Everything Collected…

By Shawn Robare

So I was thinking about how weird it is that some things are "collected", things that by all rights should have been used, torn up, lost, crumpled, discarded, or just plain thrown away.  Things like old food packaging, for instance, these dog food cans.  Now I don’t think it’s weird to be collecting them now, decades after they were originally meant for the trash or recycling bin.  I mean the cans are the very definition of Pop Art, disposable, banal, products consumed by the mass public (or their dogs hopefully.)  But where have these been all these years? 

I guess they could’ve been washed and then used to store nuts, blots, and nails on some handyman’s work bench.  But I bet there was someone out there ready to collect it, as it was when it was new, and this is what I find weird.  Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support this behavior, and am currently benefiting from it via eBay and six million sticker collections worldwide. 

But where does that first impulse come from, to collect something non-traditional or disposable?  With the stickers I’m looking at on eBay right now.  Who, in 1982-4, bought a package of Trend Scratch ‘n’ Sniff stickers and decided, "No, I am not going to open that package.  No I am not going to open it, peel a sticker off of the sheet, place it on my notebook and scratch and/or sniff it."  I mean why buy stickers you don’t intend to stick someplace?  I’m not taking trading card stickers like Garbage Pail Kids or Topps Sticker Trading Cards, but plain old 12-up on a sheet jelly bean scented stickers.  Are people thinking of money?  Are they saying in their deep voiced internal monologue: "No, I am going to save this, keep it in safe keeping because one day in the future these stickers are going to be worth approx. 15 times what I paid for them.  Yes, in about 20 years these stickers, which I invested in at $1 a package, will be worth upwards of $15 dollars a package."  I mean it’s not like they were rare.

Maybe that’s it.  People recognize that items like dog food cans and scratch and sniff stickers are disposable, and because of this they realize that if they keep them, then in the future they will be rare, because honestly who keeps them?

Once again, don’t get me wrong, I applaud this behavior.  I want scratch and sniff stickers damnit and it’s to these people that I turn.  I got to thinking about this awhile back when I was trying to remember the proper name of a book club from my elementary and middle school days.  Every few weeks the teacher would hand out this little catalog (or newsletter, order form, pamphlet, what-have-you) with a bunch of books, some magazines and stickers that we could take home to our parents to get them to order them through the school.  I don’t remember much besides the fact that it was printed on news print in color, was one or two pages folded, and I think had a butterfly on it somewhere.  I’ve pretty much guessed it as being the Scholastic Book Club from reading various blogs and stuff.

Well, here’s the thing.  I want one of those catalogs from the 80’s.  Where in the hell do you find something like that?  I’d settle for a jpeg, but I haven’t found any on the internet.  What are the odds that some kid used to neatly refold his order forms when he was done looking through them and neatly setting it on a pile in the back of his closet?  Normally, I’d say zero, but there are those dog food cans to think about…

  • Esteban

    I used to order books from that book club all the time! Now I don’t know how likely it would be that I could track down a flyer/order form, but I do know that my mom used to save all of my schoolwork when I was a kid. She still has boxes and boxes of my school papers from the 80’s that most parents would have thrown away. It is possible that somewhere in my parents’ garage there exists a book club order form or two from 1983 or 1984. I called my sister about this and she said she remembered the book club-she even called it “”Troll Books”” right off the top of her head. I didn’t remember a name like that but she agreed that maybe mom has something from them in the school papers archive. So my sister said she’d look and see what she can find. It’ll probably be a few weeks before we get results, but it’s a lead. With my luck someone made a torrent of the complete Troll Books order form archive but then deleted it because nobody wanted them.

  • Patty M.

    I remember the book orders, too! I am actually seeking out a particular book with a title, something to the effect of, “”Amazing Fun Facts About Ghosts””… or close to that??? I have just learned that Mom cleaned out boxes and tossed them! Would love the specs to see if I could find one copy SOMEWHERE!