Use the good paper

4 minute read

When my father died in 2009, his widow handed me a black cashmere overcoat. This was your father’s, she said, try it on. It fit perfectly and looked brand new.

The coat’s labels are from the early 1960’s. This was when the young Naval Officer who would be my father was transferred to Washington, DC. It was also when he met his future wife at a cocktail party. Her kind, thrifty and newly prosperous father took an instant liking to him. It’s quite possible that he made the poor but hard-working and handsome young man a gift of this fine coat.

Dearth of good things

The enemies of the American middle class sucessfully destroyed American manufacturing decades ago. These days the remaining American producers are mostly small, niche outfits. For years I went out of my way to purchase clothing, shoes, tools and other necessary items made by these companies in the USA. Places like Rancourt and Company of Maine put out what used to be considered standard quality goods. It wasn’t so long ago in America that standard quality used to mean hard-wearing and made to last. To our impoverished eyes such out-of-reach and generally unavailable items appear wildly luxurious.

Sears Craftsman made in USA

Sears Craftsman made in USA

An expectation of good value

Are you of an age to remember Sears Craftsman tools? They were made in USA, fairly priced, and never seemed to wear out. Maybe you still have some of these older Craftsmen screwdrivers. Americans used to have fewer - but better - things.

In the 1950’s or early 1960’s the parent of a friend of mine purchased a mixer. The motor burned out after only 3 or 4 years. My friend’s parent was outraged at the obviously poor quality. He went back to the store with the broken item and received both a sincere apology from the understanding manager and a brand new replacement.

Eyes to see

My how we’ve learned to love junk! We accept expensive things produced in slave-labor conditions. Who knows or cares where it’s made. If it breaks we throw it away and buy another. We can’t fix any of this stuff anyway because most things are made to look shiny, self-destruct and be unserviceable.

Buying good-looking garbage is the very opposite of thrift. Cheapness in a person is vice. In an object it’s a mark of poverty.

There’s a connection to Jesus’ warning to the church of Laodicea:

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. -Revelation 3.17-18

Oh America, where is your self-respect?

About 10 years ago I purchased a modern cashmere overcoat made in America by Hart Schaffner Marx. It’s a good enough coat. But it can’t compare with my father’s. The older American coat is plush. The cashmere is noticeably thicker, softer, and denser than the modern one. The lining is silkier.

The tailoring on the new coat is acceptable. But the older one is immaculate. There are no hanging threads anywhere. Not one seam puckers. The 50 year old buttons are still tight and secure.

Side by side, the difference in quality is unmistakable.

Using the good paper

My favorite black raincoat finally wore out this year. I’ve been unable to find a replacement. It was made by a company you would recognize, and was only 4 or 5 years old. Its inner lining ripped early on. Two years ago I had the tailor shorten and fold over the cuffs to hide where the material had worn. But now the lining was shredding, and the collar showed obvious deterioration. Last week I folded it up and put it in the trash. Doesn’t this sound just a little like what people experienced in the former Soviet Union?

This morning was dark and chilly. In desperation I took out my father’s coat. It’s too good to wear. But I put it on anyway. It feels like a million bucks. I only wish my father had worn it himself.

Good advice

The father of my wife’s friend suffered a heart attack not long ago. He tells everyone now, Use the good paper.

Be a good Christian example to those around you. Only buy the best stuff you can find.

And. Just for today, Use the good paper.

UPDATE: The meaning of “use the good paper” is a little obscure. I try to explain it in this comment below.

Originally published at: Comfort for Christians



Use the good china, i understand. Use the good paper sounds like a play on that, which implies using the better paper plates, or those disposable plates that appear of better quality. I dont get it.

Oh, how I long for quality products made in USA! I found a great wool jacket in a store in Two Harbors, MN and it is quality. Made by Filson, from where Ive purchased other good products (some of their stuff is imported, though, and I havent bought that). I live in sweaters during the winter. I used to wear sweatshirts, but the dress code at work wouldnt allow that. I started with some cotton sweaters, but they were foreign made and didnt last long. I had previously bought a couple heavy wool sweaters made in Scotland to go with my kilt, and my wife had bought me a Norwegian woo sweater as a gift, and I really liked wool much better than cotton. Somewhere along the line I got on a list for a catalog for Irish stuff and they had an inexpensive ($100) light wool sweater, so I decided to order that to replace a cotton one. Really nice, so I bought a few more of those Irish-made sweaters for milder weather and then a few more heavy wool Scottish sweaters ($150) for colder weather. These are sweaters that will be able to be passed to my grandchildren! Is the price worth it? When compared to the junky wool or wool blends made in China, you betcha. We go out of our way to purchase American-made products which are quality-made, regardless of the cost. They last longer and end up being less expensive overall. If I have to go outside USA, it will be from countries where the product is quality and the labor not slave. Oh, and I found “Red Cap” for my slacks. Good stuff. Thanks for your link to Rancourt - gives me a new place to shop!

Glenn, God bless you for holding to your memory of products of integrity - and your commitment to finding them. Could you send me the name/link to the Irish sweater supplier? I am needing to replace two light wool sweater vests which are showing obvious wear. The only lightweight ones Ive been able to find are now made in China. Since Dockers became so shoddy (not to mention made by indentured serfs) Ive been wearing Dickeys. No longer made in Fort Worth, USA but of very good quality. Have never heard of Red Cap. Will look for them. Alec

I dont go home to Buffalo any more, once the mecca of quality manufacturing its now a ghost town of empty factories. Even Buffalo China, once the standard for quality dinnerware nation wide, is now a faded memory and the largest employer in town is the State of New York.

Thanks Ed for asking. The reference is particular to the artist community, and obviously obscure. Apologies. Its basically saying to use good quality things for your craft and in your life, and to give thanks and gratitude to God for providing such a rich, abundant, beautiful and well-designed world for us to live in and enjoy. Everything in Gods creation has a purpose and use. Even in the fallen state, so much good remains. Using sub-quality items is demonic. It comes from the evil ones hatred of everything uplifting and good. A perfectly balanced hammer makes a better world. A broken space bar on a $2 keyboard in a $1000 Apple laptop which a young person cannot afford to fix or replace confirms them in their idea that the world is crap. The idea of using the good china is (to me anyway) a little different. I agree with it. But Im not sure how many people have “good china” these days. The very concept of “good china” being available for the average person is almost completely gone. Its been quietly replaced with the idea of “multiples” and “backups”. Alec

Dinnerware from Buffalo China was used in fancy restaurants and diners throughout the country. Ive seen some (vintage) new Buffalo China made in the 1950s(?) which was heavy, sturdy, and beautiful in its utility. What happened to Buffalo is called economic warfare. Heres how it looks in another American city. Strangely the concept is verboten to be discussed in either the American Left or Right. How many have the courage to open their eyes and see the devastation worked by “Free trade treaties” rather than bombs? Some may say the metaphor is no good because there are no dead bodies in the street. Really? What do you call methamphetamine, heroin and alcohol deaths and suicides from people who live in towns like Toledo or Erie? And why does America have the highest percentage of working age men in prison of any other country in the world, including North Korea? But these things dont easily fit in the acceptable discussion points of liberals, libertarians or conservatives. Start talking about these things and the conservatives distrust your “socialism” and the liberals close their ears to your “hard right fanaticism”. America is going down because those like George Bush Sr and Bill Clinton and of course Mr Obama are working flat out to bring us into a New World Order which they believe will last a thousand years. For that to happen, America and Western Europe have to be brought to the same economic level as the rest of the world. That is, except for a small crust. There always needs to be a ruling class. Alec

Heres the link to the catalog for the Irish sweaters. They have quite a selection of mens and womens sweaters - and for kids! I bought a couple “girly ones” for my wife also. This is the one I have three different colors of (a wee bit more for colors): Nice light-weight, with the soft Merino wool. My wife bought me this one for Christmas a few years back: Heres the link to Red Cap: I found the slacks the same time I found that wool jacket in Two Harbors in 2009. I bought 2 pair because they were on sale, and they have worn very well. The heavy sweaters you might be interested in (called “jumpers” by the Brits) are made by Brenire. I have several pull-overs and one cardigan. The cardigan I got through National Geographic catalog, and afterwards discovered their price was higher than anywhere else, and their shipping was outrageous. I cant find a site for Brenire though. This link will at least show you what they look like: I have too many :oD, all different colors. (I got a couple for half price because the British store I shopped at in Dubuque was closing so the owners could retire).

We save too many things for a rainy day dont we. I do use the good china and I have good china. I do hate seeing the middle class disappear though. This new world order will not work in the long run. Its already breaking apart in much of Europe. We just keep following along… Have a fabulous day. ☺

Yep, integrity, quality, high standards of LIVING, beliefs based on the foundation of truth! Just as the Serpent of old con (beguiled) Eve and Adam followed suit, the same thing has happened, and continues to degrade today. With reformed social conditioning well be living the Sodom and Gomorrah mentality - signs of rejecting the True and Living God and bowing to the Liars Program of no quality, no godly ethics and values - bowing to enslavement and death. Thanks for ringing the bell of Soundness and to return to godliness = PURE QUALITY!

Red Cap is a brand of work clothes I bought because they offered a light poplin work shirt, cooler than Dickies. I thought they were Dominican Republic though. I wear Dickies slacks to work with business shirts now.

As a water color artist, I loved that use the good paper phrase….we can work hard and make a wonderful image but if weve used less than good paper, its not the best final image. In a way, in this example, use the good paper means, to me, that the materials we start with can be easier built upon to excellence. If we are our good paper, living close to Gods Word and all that implies, our output goes to contributing to a more beautiful world.

HI Alec, Thank you for sharing this. It is indeed sad that lack of quality in the goods that we purchase. We try to buy what will last. Along the lines of dinnerware, Fiestaware is a find product, made in the USA without lead and virtually indestructible. Our original purchase which we have used for years has no cracks or chips, none. That isnt necessarily because I am so careful either. We must have been thinking along the same lines. I wrote something similar last night. I is a sad commentary on this nation. God bless you and keep you. Amen!

Since I read your post, Ive been looking for the name of a company which only manufactures in America…Id heard about it and wrote it down: its AMERICAN GIANT….founder is Bayard Winthrop….I havent even looked into it yet but I thought Id post it here.