as it turns out, everyone and their brother saved National Geographics
I grew up in a house filled with back issues of National Geographic Magazine. Long before the Internet and ubiquitous television coverage of everything started showing us the world in an instant, the magazine was (to use that lame old expression) a window to the world. My parents’ collection went back into the 1920s and I kept it up well into the late 1990s when I found I could not longer afford so many magazines.
My love of the National Geographic led me to major in magazine journalism. My love of travel sold me on being one of the writer/photographers who made his living (and saw the world in the process) by writing an endless series of the first person, straightforward articles for which the magazine is known. Fate, as we say, got in the way insofar as writing for the magazine–but that didn’t stop me from reading it and saving it.
I often thought that one day my heirs would love having a hundred years worth of back issues and counting (they don’t) or that I’d sell the whole archive to somebody for a small fortune even though I don’t have the first issues that came out when Alexander Graham Bell was president of the Society in 1888. The fortune is smaller than I thought because, as it turns out, everyone and their brother saved National Geographics. Heck, you can’t even give away the oldest issues on eBay.
However. . .
. . .those boxes and boxes of magazines are not only heavy, but they take up a lot of space. If I got rid of them, I just might be able to get a car into the garage. (My family has a long history of never having space for cars in the garage.) And then, if we were to sell our current house and move, all those magazines will take up a lot of space on the truck.
So, it’s time to part with them, I think. I’ll save a few issues for sentiment and/or a few of the articles I liked best. I’ll probably pull out a few pages with some of the more memorable advertising campaigns such as “See America First” and the Great Northern Railway advertising for Glacier National Park.
In addition to cleaning out the garage, I see those magazines as a dream from the past that’s become the baggage of the present. I need to focus on my fiction writing rather than harboring the idea that the magazine will one day give me a call and say, “Malcolm, send us 10,000 words about the Everglades.” My love of nature and faraway locations has found a place in my novels and stories. So, as hard as it is to part with them, those old magazines with the famous yellow borders have to go.
Well, most of them, anyway.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels and paranormal short stories set everywhere from the summit of K2 to the Philippines to Glacier National Park Montana to Chicago to the Florida Coast to the Netherlands.