X is for Xerox (and other copying methods)

I always blamed my mother for the abundance of paper in our house.

She saved articles from the newspaper, newsletters, and magazines that interested her. Booklets, pamphlets, stapled-together packets of paper from church meetings, Cooperative Extension, the Red Cross and various volunteer activities filled her desk.

She saved recipes by the hundreds. Six boxes of recipes on index cards sit on the bottom shelf of her recipe cupboard.The two upper shelves overflow with cookbooks and recipes pulled from magazines.

The other day, I found a booklet from 1983 called “When Parents Grow Old: A Training Design for use with Adult Children Caring for Aging Parents” by John I. Rhea. My mother had neatly written her name across the top, and saved it — for me. Little did she know.

I’m beginning to realize that my father probably saved just as many papers. He catalogued his and filed them neatly in folders. Or put them in scrapbooks.

My mother’s storage method was more like a silo — just shovel everything in, using paper clips, staples, and tape liberally.

My father is most definitely a filing cabinet man.

I take after my mother.

A few years ago we cleaned out his home office to make space for a full bathroom downstairs. I found a 2 inch 3-ring binder full of “fwd: fwd: fwd:” email messages that he had printed out.

Here’s my way of dealing with those types of emails:

This little email went fwd:
This little email went fwd: fwd:
And this little email went re: re: re: re:
All the way to the trash.

I looked at the jam-packed binder full of warm-fuzzy stories and mildly off-color jokes, and shook my head. He didn’t understand about saving them electronically. He printed them all out. And punched holes in them. And stuck them in a binder.

I confess – I threw them all away. More than one fwd: earns that fate.

My intention for this post was to give you a brief history of modern-ish duplication processes — like carbon paper, mimeos, dittos, and xeroxes (a.k.a. photocopies). I’m sure I have examples of each in the massive volumes of papers in this house. But I have no energy for that today, and I’m already a day behind.

The truth is, in the early days, my father wrote things out long-hand, and then typed them. So early papers of his that I have in duplicate, like his college application essay, are done using this method.

However, many of his mechanically copied papers, even from the 1940s, fall into that fwd-fwd-fwd realm like this one, from “Moving Up Day” in high school:

I struggle to throw it away, though.

I’ll just put it back in the silo (plastic tote).

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