Toilet Paper and the End of Civility

I was thinking about my grandmother recently while I was brushing my teeth. Grandma was crafty. Perhaps I got a few of her craftiness genes. She loved to crochet, and I am fortunate that I have one of her creations—an afghan which she crocheted and is now draped over one of my sofas.


Sadly, what I do not have, is one of her more unique projects—a toilet paper cover. So I had to rely on the Internet for a photo which I was able to locate at


These lovely creations cleverly hid a roll of toilet paper and were born during a bygone era when censors were a lot more concerned regarding what was said on television and in the movies.

My grandma was the mother of six when the movie “Gone with the Wind” was first released in 1939. During that movie, Clark Gable spoke the infamous line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Back in those days, it was quite a scandalous utterance.

The bathing suits during Grandma’s youth did not show nearly the amount of skin that you would witness poolside today in mixed company with children present. Today, bathing suits show much more cleavage and butts than during my mother or grandmother’s’ time.  Take a look at Grandma here, in a photo taken sometime in the forties.


As a child of the sixties, when the cameras rolled into the bedrooms of some of my favorite television shows, the couple (always, always married) were shown speaking to each other from their respective twin beds—separated at that time by a table. With the exception of one couple from a 1941 sitcom called “Mary Kay and Johnny,” which Grandma did not recall, married couples did not share a bed until Herman and Lily Munster of “The Munsters” and Samantha and Darrin Stevens of “Bewitched” made cohabiting one bed acceptable.


It was not long ago when we showed respect to our elders, our teachers, and the President. I am embarrassed to be from the state where it was my congressman who yelled out to President Obama during a joint session of Congress, “You lie.” While I understand that he disagreed with the President, I feel it was not acceptable to disrespect the office. What would Grandpa think?

Now cursing is commonplace even from the President of the United States, respect has flown out the window, and you never know what to expect when you turn on the television or the radio. It was hard enough when all of you were young, but I find it has gotten worse since the 2016 election. What would Grandpa think, having lived for ten years in a country where democracy did not exist?

I spoke with Grandma about this tonight and told her that a part of me longs to return to a time where rolls of toilet paper must be covered, because a civil society would never admit what was hidden under that crocheted craft. In a civil world, bad manners and incivility are hidden under a toilet paper cover. But that is what freedom and the First Amendment are about, so what would Grandpa think?