Friday, October 14, 2011

Toilet Paper Masks

I went to a press preview for a new National Portrait Gallery exhibit on Gertrude Stein. It was interesting and as always, I like getting an advanced look at an exhibit and hearing curators give background...but what really fascinated me was a Life magazine ad that was next to story by Stein.

It was an ad for a Scott Tissue emergency mask that was "used only once and is instantly disposable." It was illustrated with pictures, one of a father bending over a newborn alongside the doctor and one of a mother leaning over a baby. The lower halves of both parents' faces were covered with the "tissue mask" and there were written instructions for how one could use sheets of toilet tissue, secured with a safety pin, as a mask to prevent the spread of germs.

Was this really a serious attempt to market an alternative use for toilet paper? I don't know. That was a different time.

Given what I learned about Gertrude Stein and of her high opinion of her own genius, she might be dismayed that I took this much time to ponder a toilet paper mask instead of concentrating on her writing on the opposite page. Then again, she might not care at all.

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