News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

August 2, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Missing the wishing inside the catalogs

Only 24-hours after returning from vacation, our mail person delivered a two-week accumulation of mail. Our mailbox overflowed!

You’d think this would be a treat. Alas!

Once the pleas for money hit the circular file — one promised that if we sent $50 this one time, they would never ask again — I winnowed out a few things which seemed to need attention. Only then did I begin to sort the catalogs.

Some I never look through. This includes one which sent three catalogs, one for men’s clothing, one for women’s clothing and one for household stuff. I do like the quality of their things, but when I tumbled to the fact that after I add the sales tax to my order, they assess shipping costs to include the tax! How much can it cost to mail sales tax? To whom?

I toss toy catalogs. The grandchildren are too old for toys, except electronic toys. I also pitched a bunch from the same company which were the same inside — just different covers. The recycle bin also gained one which offered a selection of wares with a Victorian theme. I didn’t like Victorian the first time around, so why revisit.

I got the collection down to about a half dozen which might rate a second look.

It wasn’t always like that. As a kid I looked forward to the semi-annual arrival of catalogs from Sears and Montgomery Ward — we called the latter “Monkey Ward.” Both had everything. My brother and I about wore out the spring/summer issues before the fall/winter editions arrived.

I caught Ed one time paying particularly close attention to the pages featuring ladies’ underwear. He was sheepish about it, but I had a second look too. After all, those girdles and harnesses would become part of my essentials sooner or later.

I remember one season the Sears catalog came with a center page in full color — the others were black and white, as usual. I was fascinated. The page was sectioned off into about 20 small squares each featuring a little girls’ dress, each with matching bloomers. I wanted a green one, but Mom made most of my clothes and it never happened.

Dad spent time looking over the tools and automotive offerings and Mom was more interested in sheets and towels to keep things at home running.

These wonderful catalogs no longer arrive automatically, and at no cost. If you want to look at a catalog, go to the outlet store.

By the way, those “wish books” are in color now. I miss what was, and now isn’t.

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Liz Ciancone
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