Something we never see in the movies is how people dealt with the delicate subject of wiping their bottoms. What can you tell us about the subject?

Warren and Millie Sutherland
Gulfport, Mississippi

I knew that question would come up sooner or later. Sex, foul language and violence is okay for the movies, but Americans aren’t yet ready for graphic bathroom scenes.  Dysentery and diaper rash were the nemesis of frontier life and make one question whether the “good old days” were really that good. Early-day Americans cleaned up in a variety of ways—from leaves to grass to corn cobs. The Vikings used discarded wool; French royalty used lace or silk and the Romans used sponges.

It wasn’t until 1890, about the time the frontier closed, that the Scott Paper Company came out with toilet paper on a roll. The marketing of such an unmentionable product caused the company to be so embarrassed it wouldn’t put its name on the package. Toilet paper turned out to be a success and the company really cleaned up . . . sorry.

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