When Wall Paper Was in Vogue

Long time ago, most old fashioned houses were simply made with wood. At least for us, we had never heard of wall paneling or sheet-rock, so the inside of our house was just dark, unsightly wood – the same as on the outside.

My parents, like many homesteaders, did what they could to make their house bright, lively and more appealing. My mother decided to buy some wallpaper, which was very popular at that time, and I am glad it was, because if there’s anything I sorely dislike, it’s looking at a dull, blank wall with nothing to see but wood. Now, don’t get me wrong. Wood is OK. Walls indicate that at least there’s a structure enclosing you from the heat, rain, cold, wild beast and unwanted guest. They afford us a measure of privacy, and without them, we would certainly be living in the outdoors. So, since I like beautiful things, I loved plastering paper on our unsightly walls. And wallpaper then was so colorful and appealing. With such eye-catching art covering the walls, there was always something inviting to stare at.

When I look back on it, I wonder how, as poor as we were, we afforded to purchase, of all things, wallpaper. As a kid, I had no idea if those rolls were expensive or not. All I know is that most people decorated their walls with it – and so did we. I’ll offer a guess that my mother probably ordered the paper from a mail-order catalog (Sears, Spiegel or Montgomery Ward). Chances are, that’s where she got it. We kids didn’t have to worry about where things came from. We simply enjoyed whatever came our way. Fortunately, we didn’t have the burden of figuring things out and planning and saving and budgeting. We simply lived a child’s life and that was it.

Anyway, I remember that for the kids’ bedroom, my mother bought this bright wallpaper with pretty, pink roses all over it. Flowers are my favorites, and it was a pleasure walking into a room with walls covered with “beauty.” In the wintertime when we stayed in to avoid the cold, drab outside days, at least we had springtime in the house.

As I browse through women’s and other trade magazines, I notice that wallpaper is making a comeback … or did it ever go out of style? I think it did, because for a half-century, I didn’t see wallpaper anywhere, but now, it’s popping up in a lot of the print media that I view.

Whenever I see ads with wallpaper and especially the bright, floral prints, I get warm fuzzes as I recall our beautifully covered walls. Do you remember that old, somewhat corny joke that goes … “What did the wallpaper say to the wall?” The answer is, “I’ve got you covered.” Now, let’s hear it for the wallpaper!

Published on Oct 29, 2013

Grit Magazine

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