Thursday, March 24, 2011

Drowning in Paper

It’s Thursday. One of the best days of the week, for those of us who like to contribute to a meme. But, it is always tough deciding which to pick from the many that call Thursday home. One of the first memes I discovered in my early days of blogging was “Theme Thursday.” I loved the themes chosen each week and met some great folks. But, over time, I began to feel out of place among those who participated. There was no reason. No one suggested I didn’t belong. It was just my insecurity coming to the forefront. Theme Thursday is a meme where talented writers and poets have found a home.
I am not a writer though I once had aspirations in that direction. I am not a poet and could never be, my head just doesn’t work that way. Some have told me I am the modern version of the old tribal storyteller. But, in reality, I am just an old retired lady with a camera who likes to post pictures and the story behind them.
While I had stopped posting to Theme Thursday I continued to lurk because I enjoy reading what others contribute. When I discovered the theme this week is paper I knew I had to contribute. Paper is something that has been the bane of my existence for over half a century.
Of the things that annoy me, paper has to be at the top of the list. My hatred for paper began back in my elementary school days when my Mother spent more time trying to find every way possible to keep her growing brood of children not only busy but financially productive.
The first day of school vacation back in 1956 my Mother announced that the oldest boys were going to start playing a new game. She produced a large stack of “Grit” newspapers and said the boys were going to have a contest each week to see who could sell the most papers. The paper sold for ten cents and the boy who sold the most each week would get a quarter for his very own. Mom sent the two oldest boys out on their bikes to the most distant parts of town and the others were assigned streets within walking distance of our house. So the summer became a competition and one long argument over who put the most money in the old coffee can.
The next week, Mom announced that the girls and younger boys were going to start taking one of the red wagons she had borrowed and go to all the houses on the paper routes collecting the used newspapers for recycling. One Sunday evening each month we tied them into bundles and stacked them in our wagons and hauled them a quarter mile to the industrial park, where we stacked the bundles on a scale normally meant for trucks. The papers were sold by the pound and we had to have them on the scales before the place opened on Monday otherwise we could not get them weighed. The older boys would camp out with the papers and bring Mom the money on Monday morning. Mom put the money in the coffee can. She said that can was going to pay for a new pair of shoes for each of us when school started. It did too, with some to spare. In fact, we got to vote on how to spend the money left over. We got a new Monopoly game with it.
Our paper business was too successful, however, so Mom did not let it end with the start of school. This little venture continued until we moved to a larger house in the country several years later. After the move Mom continued to have the boys out selling the papers but the recycling stopped. As a result the left over newspapers began to pile up all over the house.
Back then we would burn our trash, but, Mom would not let us burn the papers. By then she had another idea for how to use them. That was the summer she had all of us, and all the kids in the 4-H club she started making paper mache items. Which resulted in tiny shreds of paper and glue being tracked all through the house that was my responsibility to clean up.
As the oldest of the thirteen children, most of the kitchen duties fell to me. It was impossible to set a table or clean the kitchen without having to deal with piles of castoff paper left behind by family members. It seemed like every piece of mail or schoolwork that came in the house ended up on the kitchen table.
After I married the handle on all the paper never improved. My first husband could not read so every piece of paper that came in the house landed in a pile for me to deal with. At the time I was working as an accounting and payroll clerk for a CPA and before long I was drowning in stacks of work papers combined with the mail, bills, school work, insurance forms, and you name it that collected on my desk.
After I got a computer I told my mother my goal was to have that machine give me a paper free household. I went to paperless billing and paid my bills on line. Use of a debit card let me stop writing checks. My books, newspapers and magazines are now on an e-reader. I was almost there. Then, I married the Old Salt and found he would have no part of living in my paperless world. Now the sacrifice I have to make for having this wonderful loving man in my life is stepping over stacks of books and magazines piled beside the bed, hauling bags of used papers to the recycle bin and dealing with piles of unopened mail and other papers he likes to leave all over the house.
I once heard that everything in life comes full circle. If paper is any evidence, that statement is certainly true. I am back where I started, drowning in paper.
Now just because photos are my thing, I will leave you with shots of some old paper we found on the coffee table in the office of our investment banker.
P.S. The Old Salt says he doesn't like to leave stuff all over the house; it just happens.

I am linking this post to Theme Thursday.
To visit the entries of others click here.


  1. Glad to know your successful paper story.

    books are treasure.
    Happy Theme Thursday.

  2. Oh, the things we do for love. I am rigid about not leaving shoes laying about in the living room. I married this great guy who leaves his shoes everywhere.

    *sigh* It happens.

    Wonderful story! May you one day find your way to a paper free existence!

  3. Funny how much "stuff" happens when you're married. What would we do without them?

    Good thing we're perfect!


  4. Oh Dear, I'm afraid I am the paper spreader in our marriage. Thanks for your story, I really enjoyed it but I don't think I will share it with my husband :)

  5. I'd say this entire post should disprove to YOU, that you are not a writer. This was really good and very interesting!

  6. I am actually new to theme thursday and so happy you decided to contribute. THis was such an interesting post. I look forward to reading and visiting more of your posts, and viewing you h=photos. Thanks,

  7. Great story....I am not against paper...but for a while I sure was against junk mail. I finally got at least 80% of that stopped and now I am fine with the paper content in my life.


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