Saturday, March 05, 2011

More or less...

Susan and I went out for a sandwich tonight, and a young man approached our table and told us that he found my name on the wall of a house that he had just purchased. He was stripping wallpaper that I had hung in 1977 according to the diary that I wrote on the wall.

I started signing the walls before I papered them because I always enjoyed uncovering the dates, along with the signatures and thoughts of Merton Grills and Russell Werking, a couple of Hagerstown paperhangers that preceded me in the trade. I wrote on the walls of a lot of homes and businesses in Wayne and Henry counties. If you want to know what the weather was like on November 12th, 1976, I imagine it's recorded on a wall somewhere. Maybe in Martha's kitchen or dining room. Or maybe Thelma's.

When I started hanging wallpaper 40 years ago, a roll of wallpaper contained 36 square feet. We usually bought it in double rolls, 72 feet if I did my gazinta's right. Somewhere along the line they started selling wallpaper in bolts. 28 square feet. 56 in a double bolt. Then, after a few years they started calling the bolts, rolls. I think they just figured out a way to beat us out of 8 feet of paper.

I imagine most people today think a roll of wallpaper is supposed to contain 28 square feet, but Merton and Russell and I know better. They're probably over it by now. Me, not so much.

Sometimes when I wasn't hanging wallpaper, I was nailing on shingles. When I first started nailing on shingles, you could buy them at Losantville Lumber for $7.00 per square. Back then a square was 100 square feet. I always figured that was something we would be able to count on for a long time, and I guess we did count on it for quite a while.

But the other day I was nailing on some shingles, and I noticed on the wrapper that a square now contains 98.4 square feet. Of course, now they call it a "sales square", and they charge $83.90 for it.

And probably before too long they'll just call it a square.

But I'll know better.

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