A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A whole bunch of unimportant stuff

Tonight I went to get my hair cut and colored and had the usual beauty shop conversation with my hairdresser. How's work? How's the family? Going any place exciting? yada, yada, yada

Then the bizarre path of conversation took hold. The hairbrush got caught in the velcro fastener on the drapey thing around my neck. She mentioned that sometimes she hates Velcro. I said, "Yeah, but don't you wish you'd invented it!" Which led to her telling me that she had read recently that the father of one of the Monkees had invented white-out and they all became millionaires. So now we had traveled from our families to office products.

Next stop was Post-Its. I related the story I had heard that some company was trying to make a new glue, but the dang stuff wasn't sticky enough and the pieces of paper held together by this glue could easily be pulled apart. Light bulb!!!!!

I actually remember when Post-Its first found their way into offices. It was the early 1980's and I was working at a hospital in Tucson. We would order our routine office supplies every couple of weeks, and suddenly the company began giving us a free sample with each order. A little 1-inch square pad of yellow paper with a strip of sticky stuff at the top of each piece. What the heck were these?? What would anyone do with something so small - and so yellow?? At first we just threw them away. Then we tried to find a use for them. Eureka!! We could stick a little note to a letter or something telling the person where to sign and then pull the note off with no damage to the paper! It was a friggin miracle. Soon we began receiving documents from other departments full of little yellow squares. My boss was going nuts. "What the heck are these things and why is everyone using them?!?!? I hate this, I'll never use those dang things" He was a little slow to catch on. But, within 6 months, I was ordering them for him by the ton. And, as if that weren't enough, they started making them in other colors. Glory be!

A friend of mine worked in an office where they had hired a temp to cover the front desk for a couple of weeks. The boss asked the temp to order some lined post-it pads. The temp wasn't clear on the task, so she ordered plain post-its and proceeded to carefully draw nice even lines on every single piece of paper in the pad. Hopefully the boss was appreciative.

So the post-it conversation got me thinking about other things like carbon paper. Remember that? Hated it. When we finally got "Xerox" machines and could "burn a copy" of a document, the world was bright again. One time when my son was around 15, he came home from his girlfriends apartment all aglow. "Mom, Julie's mom has the coolest stuff. It's this special black paper that is shiny on one side and dull on the other. And, if you put it between two pieces of paper with the dull side on the bottom sheet, and then write on the top sheet, the writing goes through to the bottom of paper!! It's really cool - have you ever seen that? Can we get some?" I sat him down and explained that there really wasn't anything "cool" about carbon paper and NO we could not get some.

Then there was mimeograph. The big blue sheet that was covered in some gummy stuff so that when you typed on it you actually created a stencil. Then you could run copies on the mimeo machine. Heaven help you if you made a mistake. You had to get your little jar of blue goo and cover it up so you could re-type. Sort of a blue version of white-out.

And, finally, my favorite. Ditto paper. Again,typing on special paper and running copies on a machine. But ditto paper was special. Everyone over 50 remembers being in school and the teacher distributing a handout or test, and the whole class would put the paper up to their noses and sniff that wonderful, pungent ditto paper smell. Probably why so many people in my generation became druggies in the 60's, but, oh, how we loved that smell.

I still wish I had invented Velcro.


Halfmexican Mama said...

My kid wants to invent ice cubes that dont melt....I tell her "go for it honey, but first marry a hockey or baseball player!"

Chris said...

Now you are dating yourself. Ha Ha
I want to invent something too.

Desert Diva said...

I always think of the educator who created "Barney." However, there are some things that I wouldn't want my name associated with no matter what!

Kathy said...

Love Post Its. I could always find a use for them other than their intended purpose.
And ditto machines! My mom worked in the office at Whitmore and would let us work the machine sometimes! And yes... the smell. I remember that smell.

The Kept Woman said...


My university had a mimeograph machine in the education building...this was in 1991-1995.

You better bet yer ass they didn't have one in the business school on campus.

Just saying...

I did love that purple ink though!

I heard it was Mike Nesmith's mother who created Post-It Notes...just Wiki'd it...It was a Dr. Spencer Silver. And then I Wiki'd 'white out' and LOW AND BEHOLD! That's what Bette Nesmith Graham (Monkee Michael Nesmith's mother)created in 1951...she founded Liquid Paper.

I SO hope they ask me that when I'm on Jeopardy.

Jenni said...

I remember the time Kathy and I stuck post-its to our eyelids and fluttered them like these big, yellow, false eyelashes. Probably not what the inventor intended, but fun, just the same.