An even greater factor may be the instant communication now available via technology. No longer do we depend entirely on the daily newspaper read hurriedly over morning coffee and thoroughly before going to bed to supply us with the news.
It’s a good thing, I guess, that other needs previously met with newspapers are disappearing, too, since we may not have as many to use. Crumpled newspaper went under kindling sticks in the fireplace and stove and was lighted to start the fires. If the fire didn’t burn well right away, we opened wide a section of newspaper and covered the mouth of the fireplace, making it “draw” from the bottom to accelerate the flames.
We cut strips of newspaper, rolled and twisted it into long, thin tapers for candle lighters. A supply was kept on the mantle for lighting the kerosene lamps.
A fun pastime was folding a sheet of newspaper accordion style and cutting out a string of paper dolls holding hands. If we made a mislick with our scissors, we simply tossed the flawed creation in the fire and made a second try with another sheet.
Newspapers were once considerably wider than they are today. Our mothers used them to cut their own patterns for garments to be sewn for the family.
I think one of the most clever and “selling” commercials of all time is the paper towel promotion that says to “Wrap up work and throw it away.” Newspapers fit that description before paper towels. They were placed under the slop and slosh buckets to catch spills that inevitably happened. After the kitchen floor was mopped, my mother would spread them in front of the washstand and across the traffic areas to save the clean floor for a while.
A folded newspaper made a good fan on a sultry night when it was hard to cool off enough to sleep. Folded pages were slipped into cracks around doors and windows to keep out the cold winter wind. My dad told of a poorer boy who put layers of newspaper inside his shirt as insulation to help keep him warm when they were schoolboys together.
There was no end to the uses we found for newspapers. No one had to be coaxed to recycle. Rarely did they accumulate sufficiently to have to be burned in the trash barrel or carried to the gully and weighted down with rocks to check the rain runoff.