Shirt Cardboards

Our generation straddled the Spartan youth of our depression-era parents and the electronic plentitude of our children’s world. We were more likely to spend part of Saturday morning inside than our parents but far less likely to be tied to a static indoor amusement than the generation that followed. In some ways, thankfully, my youth was very old fashioned.

It would be difficult for me to convey the excitement, absolute joy and sense of possibility I felt on the day when we would go pick up my father’s laundered shirts. These shirts were starched and folded and “wrapped” with a paper ribbon to keep the folds in place. The prize was the coveted reinforcing cardboard that was used to hold the shape of the shirt.

These cardboards could serve a wide range of possibilities. They could be used as art paper, a shiny white canvas for tempera, colored pencil, or even oil. You could construct miniature buildings for your train layout or make props for puppet shows. The ride home on laundry pick-up day was filled with excitement that required so little technology and so much imagination.