Firth Carpet - The guilty party.

Have you ever moved into a house or apartment and gotten a full-scale attack of the heebie-jeebies because of the filthy magenta carpet, and then you notice, by looking through one of the larger holes, that there's perfectly good hardwood underneath? And then you growl to no on in particular "Double-you, tee, EFF? Why did someone do this?!" while your hands become shuddering claws of anger. Think carefully. We'll wait. No we won't. YES YOU HAVE. Thank Firth carpets.

*The Images and Scanning Them Brigade apologizes for the awkward shape of today's picture. It spanned the bottom third of a two-page spread. Also, they're sorry you have to stare up into the crotch of a magazine binding. Click through the picture for bigness.

As you read the copy in this ad, you get extra points for cutting off the ad's question before you even reach the end of the sentence. "Wouldn't you love to exch-NO! ..your old roo- NNNO! ... for thi- I SAID GDMFING  NO! PRICK!"

Actually, with a house this cool, it's hard to make it look bad. It'd look pretty nice even if you carpeted it with a zebra kill. The best Firth could do to play down the niceness of the wood floor was to make the picture tiny and black and white. Also, they put humans in the carpet picture, which I guess makes it seem nicer, if you're into that sort of thing. Whatever.

It's no scandal (yes it is) that carpet companies are the responsible parties for convincing people to roll soon-to-be-shitty carpet over their lustrous hardwood floors. That's the biz they're in. (No excuse.) Who can blame them? (Me, that's who.) It's got to be possible to understand why people would do this to a nice wood floor. Hardwood floors are nice. You can sand and refinish them when they get shabby in a decade or two. You can put rugs on them that look cool and move them around if you get tired of looking at them. So, why did so many sane (possibly) people carpet their wood floors? Let's dip our heads into the creepy mirror of Galadriel and see things that are, some things that were and, as Galadriel said, "some bullshit that probably happened once".

As far back as the powdered wig days, everybody had wood floors. At first, you wore your shoes everywhere because the wood was splintery and dirty. It's all there was. You could throw down a few beaver skins or straw mats, or expensive woven rugs if you were the type who was rich enough to own two powdered wigs, but basically you had no choice. Wood was it.

Even in the forties, lots of houses still had wood floors. Wall-to-wall carpet As weaving became less of a multi-wig owner's privilege, fancy woven things like bedspreads and area rugs became affordable. During the industrial revolution, giant mechanical looms replaced the Oriental Person and anyone with a month's salary to spare could have a few big rugs. By the fifties, it was practical to carpet your whole house, and so people did.  People liked the quieter sound of a fully carpeted room, and they liked the fuzzy feeling of a rug under bare feet. In 1958, reasonable carpet like this Firth broadloom was popular. A rug installed in the fifties was ready to be replaced in the late sixties, and shag became The Shit, because thin carpet is for squares, man. Within a few years, shag was no longer the shit with capital letters. It was just small "s" shit, also with no "the".

Now, hardwood floors are desirable, because in the age of carpet, few houses are built with hardwood floors. Hardwood is expensive. Under the carpet of most houses, you'll find a layer or two of CDX plywood. So, something that used to be a lame symbol of old-fashioned-ness has become a status symbol. Refinishing hardwood floors is messier, slower, and more expensive than just tacking down some new carpet, but things like that only add to the cache', right? RIGHT?

Look at this: The copy says that in 1985, a phone bill was around $14 a month. The handy inflation calculator says that comes out to $104 in today's money. Oof! And no roaming, caller ID, or data.


Sue said...

When my mother sold our childhood house, I found out there were hardwood floors throughout!! I asked her why we had carpet EVERYWHERE. (I was a newborn when they bought it, I don't remember it any other way) Her mind set was that 1. hardwood was dangerous for little kids that would be running around the house and 2. carpet would protect the hardwood. Weird!

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