One of my impulsive “finds” at an estate sale a few years ago was a stash of National Geographic magazines. At the time, one of the members in my local mixed media art group was doing some interesting things with Nat Geo pages.
I go to estate sales on Sunday, when things are half-price, and I go at about 12:30 p.m. so I avoid the rush of all the folks who looked on Saturday and are back to grab their “must have.” What’s left is the odd papers, rusty junk, fabric scraps, and home-made contraptions that nobody wants.
At this particular sale there must have been an entire collection of Geographics.
They were tumbling out of boxes on a small patio where people had been going through them. By this time, the women running the sale were having concerns about how they would dispose of them later in the day, and were encouraging people to just take what ever they wanted. They even provided bags for them.
So, I proceeded to fill up three or four bags of the ones that were easiest to reach. This was something I would get to “someday.” Since I didn’t have room for them in my house, I cleared space for them in the back of a cabinet in the garage. I stacked them neatly in order by the date of publication, which I noted was quite a while back.
When Robert moved into the apartment behind the garage, they were still there and I had other boxes of materials in front of them. Two years ago, when I reorganized the garage to give Robert more space for his photos, I moved the boxes, but left the magazines stacked up because he can’t reach that space anyway.
I hadn’t forgotten them, but this year when I started weeding my bookcases, and then began harvesting images from my magazine stash, I knew I needed to make a decision about this secret in the garage. Before Robert came back from Florida last month, I brought them into the house and installed them in some of the space I had cleared.
At the end of most evenings, I’m looking through one or two of these old magazines and cutting out images of interest. I’ve started with the oldest which was early in 1941 about the time my parents got married. I love seeing the old hand drawn ads. My boss at the printing company where I worked in 1964 drew like that.
I estimate I have about 138 of these magazines published between 1941 and 1960. I’ve never been
much interested in history, but suddenly I’m seeing photos of how the US is building 2000 ships in two years, how the women took over technical jobs and agricultural duties.
I’m looking forward to seeing what was happening in the world while I was a child. I’ll probably cut out things that catch my attention and do a project with those images.