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Monday, May 25, 2009

HOM: Cataloging Thoughts

Today we have Amazon. When I was a kid, we had Sears Roebuck & Montgomery Ward. The "Rears Sawbuck" and "Monkey Ward" catalogs came twice a year, spring and fall, with a special catalog from each at Christmas. They were Wishbooks & dreambooks and gave us rural folks a chance to buy things that Kalispell didn't offer. Some served other purposes. Grampa Streit's outhouse always always got the the old catalogs when the new ones came out, and they furnished both more entertainment (reading) and comfortable utility (TP) than the old fashioned corn cobs did, or so I was told. Later on, J. C. Penney catalogs added to the mix as they branched from all-clothing to a full line of tools and such. I guess the catalog era was winding down then, as Penney's is about the only big catalog left now, but it was such fun to browse the descriptions, decide on what was "wanted", "needed" and "really needed", and then send off the order. There were a lot of choices -- tools, clothes, fishing gear, boats and motors, guns, car parts & accessories, shoes & boots, The wait (weeks!) between the letter going into the mail box and the arrival of the package seemed as long as a school year. When I got a little older, the Herter catalog added to the mix. It had a world of stuff, hundreds of pages of everything a hunter, fisherman, sportsman, outdoorsman or back-to-the-lander could ever use, with the most lavish and florid product descriptions one could imagine. The Gun Control Act of 1968 stopped the mail order sale of firearms and the "Truth In Advertising" laws hurt them, but the endangered species acts killed them. They were carrying exotic furs & feathers for their fly tying clientele. Now, their catalogs are collectible. What brings all this to mind is that Lyn left Books West and went to work at Penney's after Books West declined our partnership offer. I suspect that her employment there was a big factor in their decision . . . TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)