Confessions of a magazine & catalog addict

I’m a third generation magazine and catalog addict.  My grandmother loved them.  My mother loved them.  And a fourth generation is now well represented by my daughter.

When I was a child, even before I could read, Mother saved all her magazines and catalogs for me.  I was fascinated by how she treated them like treasures.  Not one was thrown away until it had been read and read and re-read.

I thumbed through her McCall’s, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Time, Newsweek, Life and Look.  She had a separate shelf for the big fat catalogs of the time, including Sears and Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney and Alden wishbooks.  Those we kept forever, even after new ones arrived.  The magazines were eventually passed along to other families.

In later years she added subscriptions to Consumer Reports and lots of trade publications. As I grew away from her home and no longer shared all of her tastes in printed matter, still my reverence for those publications never diminished. Today I buy some magazines at the newsstand, subscribe to others, and am the recipient of still more from friends who pass theirs along. I enjoy them all. 

Some people complain about catalogs but I’ve never considered a mailbox full of catalogs an annoyance.  I welcome the ones that arrive unsolicited and then sign up for others, and pass them along too.  Next to my big blue reading chair right now there’s an eclectic stack.  One by one they’ll go into a box in the trunk of my car to make the trip to my daughter’s house.  She shares them with people she works with and they go round and round from there and end up who knows where.

I like the thought of this widening circle of readers.  When these publications fray and fall apart, as they eventually must, then all of us will have participated in a form of social interaction that some say is primitive, but I find satisfying. 

Sure I can order online without ever seeing a catalog in print, but the items seem different and somehow more appealing when I hold the pictures of the products in my hand and turn the pages back and forth.

As for ideas in newspapers and magazines, maybe it’s an illusion but it seems to me that I even think about things differently when I’m holding onto them in print. 

All this talk about newspapers dying  and magazines getting thinner and catalogs available only online has me worried.  I hope there’s a way to keep them coming.  They’re lifelong friends and I’d miss them awfully if they went away.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

3 thoughts on “Confessions of a magazine & catalog addict”

  1. I like catalogs, too. Except that you now have to pay five or ten bucks for the big, good ones like Spiegel or Sears.

    I buy and read magazines, too, but they make me crazy. You might think for having paid the price of the subscription or single copy they wouldn’t force me to shake out all the little loose subscription cards and go looking for the ends of stories: (Continued on page 53…please turn to page 125…”TO BE CONTINUED!”)

  2. Those inserts? Me too! I tear them out the second I pick up the magazine. I’ve never looked to see whose ads they are – which makes me wonder if inserts work for anybody. But I don’t wonder enough to read them.

  3. I know what you mean about saving all those magazines. I never collected the wide assortment of subscriptions you mentioned … but when I was a kid, I got addicted to buying SPORT MAGAZINE every month. I’d peddle over to the local drug store and buy a copy, read the articles on my favorite or special players – then stash it away for safe keeping in a small storage area under the drawer next to my bed or in an old cardboard box in the closet. Either way, it was always a “tough tug” to toss them out. Fortunately, my mom usually saved most of them for me. And for that, I’ll always be grateful..

    When mom passed away in the summer of ’87, and I was going through the various closets of accumulated stuff at home .. it occurred to me why she helped me save all that printed paper over those years. That afternoon in nearly 22 years ago … as I rummaged through a box of fading magazines and personal momentos – I came across an old SPORT MAGAZINE I hadn’t laid eyes on in a very, very long time. As I picked it up and put it to the side for saving … I noticed the cover photo and year’s date: Mickey Mantle – 1958.

    Probably not worth more than a few bucks at a sports auction – but to me (as the MasterCard ad says) — Priceless.

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