I love to ‘catalog’ my memories

Published 11:59 pm Friday, October 23, 2009

It’s the time of year when various catalogs pop up in our mailbox. There are a few that I toss in the nearest wastebasket as soon as I take them in the house. I push others aside where pretty soon they make a disorderly pile and I am forced to sort them. Even then, I drop most in my recycle basket.

There’s one, however, that I just can’t resist. It’s small — not anything like the delightful hefty Sears and Roebuck catalogs that found their way to just about every household in the country year after year. The one I now enjoy receiving only fills 88 pages. It features food, linens, remedies, clothing, kitchenware, toys, and numerous odds and ends. It appeals to me because it has a lot of once popular items that eventually faded away.

For instance, when have you thought about or seen any Evening in Paris perfume in that unique blue bottle? Originating in France in the early 1930s, it was an extremely popular fragrance by the 1950s. As a high school freshman, I tucked a little vial of it in my purse, only to have some of it spill and saturate the bottom of the bag. There was no way I could mask that well-known scent as I moved from class to class that memorable day. A picture of it in the catalog triggered the memory, but didn’t move me to order the 1.6-ounce spray bottle at a cost of $50.

I had hardly turned a page until I spotted the tinsel Christmas tree with a color wheel that sent me back to the 1960s in a flash. My mother had an aluminum tree with a color wheel that wound up at our house many years afterward. But my most vivid memory of one of those sparkling aluminum trees with revolving colors was in the window of an across-the-street neighbor in military dependent quarters in Bamberg, Germany. I had developed the mumps (on both sides) that December. Consequently, I spent days recuperating on the couch in our living room. To cheer myself, I often gazed two floors up for a view of the neighbors’ delightful tree, constantly changing colors.

Another page took me to chenille bedspreads. I’ve never thought they were pretty, but I remember them in my parents’ bedroom as well as in my aunt’s. They made me think of a chenille bathrobe I once had. I wore it so long it looked ratty by the time I discarded it.

On the candy pages, I noticed a Zagnut bar, a sweet I haven’t seen for years. On the same page were Beemans Chewing Gum and Clove Chewing Gum.

Maybe those little gumdrop trees I saw next have lingered, but I haven’t seen one for some time. There one was in the catalog, complete with a bag of gumdrops.

So far I haven’t compiled an order from this fascinating catalog, but I’m certainly having fun turning the pages.