Beth Siegalkoff

Aug. 18 is Mail Order Catalog Day, an annual holiday that celebrates the old-fashioned way of shopping by choosing items from a printed catalog, and ordering and paying for it through the post/mail or over the telephone.

It is believed that the unofficial holiday commemorates the anniversary of the day in 1872 when American entrepreneur Aaron Montgomery Ward sent out the first modern mail order catalog to customers in Chicago.

Mail order catalogs are a type of direct marketing strategy where companies can communicate directly and personally with the customers. The catalog is a publication, not unlike a magazine, that lists all the items available to buy from a business, and their prices.

Mail order shipping has a colorful history. Historians believe that one of the first shopping catalogs was produced in the late 15th century when Italian publisher, Aidus Manutius of Venice, published a list of books his company – Aldine Press – was printing.

In 1667, William Lucas published a gardening catalog in England and in 1744, Benjamin Franklin became one of the first people in America to print a catalog from which people could choose to buy books and scientific publications.

Mail order shipping did not become popular in the United States until the early 19th century when farmers and book publishers started taking advantage of the newly started national postal service and an expanded railway system to sell seeds and books all over the country.

By the 20th century, mail order catalogs selling anything from groceries to full-fledged homes became a big part of daily mail received by people.

Today, with the advances in Internet technology, printed mail order catalogs are quickly being replaced by online shopping.

However, did you know that the Hammacher Schlemmer is the oldest mail order catalog still in print today? The catalog was first printed in 1848 and sells hardware, tools and seasonal decorations. If you are in need of a Christmas train set, theirs is amazing.

Speaking of Christmas, there are only 127 shopping-days left. Better order a catalog or two and start ordering. The shelves may get emptier faster than we think, and then there are fewer people working to fill the shelves and the orders, which leaves us in a precarious position. One of our few hopes is to be the early bird that gets the worm or, in our case, that one special gift.

Let me tell you, the first week of school at the high schools was one of the best. Most of our students were so excited to be back to a little bit of normal. To be with their friends, actually sit at a school desk and see their teachers in person, to eat cafeteria food and, for Galt High, wear crazy red and white, and attend a pep rally were the highlights of the week, and then to top off the week, attend a football scrimmage Friday night.

Yes, it feels good to be back to a somewhat normal.

Flower of the day: Gladiolas

Recipe of the day: Beef or chicken kabobs with vegetables

Dates to remember:

Aug. 19 – First day of school for Galt elementary district and Oak View Elementary

Sept. 6 – Labor Day

Until next week – Be strong, be courageous and make a memory.