A friend sent me a history of the paper that is used mostly in the bathroom. It was very interesting. For example, 70 percent or more of the world’s population doesn’t even use it. You probably do not want to know how they do handle it. Makes you wonder though about all the countries that people visit on cruises and airplanes. I will mention that in some of them it is not good to be left-handed. Yep, it can create a problem, but there are tale-tell signs so, if you observe carefully the people that you meet, you should be OK.
On the bright side in today’s world, the Clinton administration passed a tax of 6 cents per roll which is in effect to this very day. What is good about that tax is that with the enormous amounts of toilet paper (yep that stuff) that has been sold recently (most of which has disappeared somewhere), we may be able to pay off the 2 trillion debt yet. In fact, if Congress had not been unkind to President Obama who wanted to the triple the tax, we would really have it made. On Congress’s behalf there is no way they could have known about the present crisis.
It seems that the first recorded use of toilet paper was in China in the 6th Century. Seems like everything starts in China. They weren’t so great though since it was 1935 in this country before a manufacturer could guarantee that there would not be any splinters in the paper. As our grandparents used to tell us, things were bad back in their day! Not as bad though as in the very early days when people used fruit peels, wool, sand and even corn cobs and broken pottery. Our ancestors did what they had to do. You never see any of that in historic movies or even historic novels! It is though part of the history of human kind is just forgotten.
Naturally, the wealthy over the years did better than the average person. The wealthy Romans used wool soaked in rose water and French Royalty used lace. The lace was most likely not the good stuff that they used for collars on shirts and dresses – unless perhaps there was a real emergency. Even today there is a royal person who uses silk handkerchiefs. That’s actually good as the Royal Stewart does not have to travel all over trying to find a store that has toilet paper. I mean that would be unseemly for the Royal Household!
Since this is an historic type column, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Joseph Gayety. He was the man who introduced packaged toilet paper to the U.S. in 1857. He did it with a flourish too as he put his name on every sheet. Considering the use of the paper, I don’t know that I would consider that an honor, but he did. You can’t knock a guy for getting a little publicity! He didn’t make any colored paper though which was popular in the U.S. until the 1940’s. If the Madison (WI) Museum of Bathroom Tissue hadn’t closed in 2000, you might have been able to see some of the color that graced bathrooms back then. The museum had 3000 rolls of toilet paper from all over the world.
It is undoubtedly well that they did close as if it were open today, it would have been heisted by now. It is true that the FBI would have picked the bad guys up quickly as you see very little colored paper on the black market these days. In addition, Charmin has a contest for the best design of a wedding dress made out of toilet paper. The winner gets $2000, but since a wedding dress would take a lot of rolls of paper, the paper is worth more than that now on the black market so not much is happening in that area.
I tell you we live in different times! The only problem is that I won’t be able to tell the grand-kids about it as they are living through it too. Oh, well they will be able to tell theirs!
Barry Evans writes about Life in The Villages for Villages-News.com.