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⚑ January 14, 2018

News in a Box πŸ“°

A box full of precious papers.

A box full of precious papers.

And now, as promised yesterday, here’s the rest of the story. Once upon a time, people got their news from papers. Delicate, fragile, tissue-thin and smeary; rich people wore gloves when touching them, after a servant had ironed the pages. These news-papers were cheap and plentiful and vast forests all over the globe were chopped down so that the news could be distributed day in and day out and more than twice a day in big cities.

So newspapers were cheap and plentiful, a proletarian textile.


Precious papers on the wall.

Precious papers on the wall.

I once read in a book or a magazine that Jackie Kennedy had decorated a guest room in one of her houses with pages from a rare first-edition of something or other, and I was off to the races. I, too, could decorate like the rich and famous, and I would, by golly! I would. And I did. This story really pains me to tell it to you, but I must put it down here, for the permanent record.

In my first house, where my kids were born and partially raised, there was a regular dark and dank basement which I sought to make into a playroom for the ages. And I did. Photos remain as proof, and everyone who has ever seen it remembers it to this day. The ceiling was a light green shag carpet, giving a nice woodsy feeling to the room, which was lined floor-to-ceiling in old barn wood.

But before you got into the actual room, your attention was going to be wrenched to the illustrations I’d shellacked onto the walls of the stairway going down. They were not to be missed: a series of posters that Vietnam soldiers were given to show them how to act if captured – I kid you not. I remember a pen stabbed into a bogus confession, but that’s not all. There were lots of color photographs of Indians that I’d ripped out of a thick book. Real Native Americans photographed for the first time by some kind of governmental official. I remember a necklace of fingers.

Funny story. I was watching Antiques Roadshow on TV one day when I saw the exact same book that I had taken apart for those photos that I’d varnished to the walls of a basement in a house in Pennsylvania that we bought for $29,000. The book, of which so few were ever made, was valued at $450,000.

I bought shellac by the gallons back then. It solved many problems. πŸ”