Posted by: ktzefr | November 6, 2014

My “travels” with National Geographic…



     In the late 70s a friend of mine was leaving for Saudi Arabia.  Her husband was an American engineer headed to Riyadh to “build stuff” and teach others how to do the same.  She, on the other hand, was trying to get rid of stuff she had accumulated over the years from an apartment that had to be vacated.  So she decided to have a sale, and I figured I should go and buy something.

     I didn’t expect to find a treasure.  But I did.  With my husband’s help, I lugged home ten years worth of National Geographic magazines that were otherwise headed to my friend’s trash bin.  More than 100 issues and thousands of stories and photographs for only ten dollars!

     Over the next few years I traveled vicariously around the world through those magazines and they traveled with us when we moved.  This was before personal computers and the internet, so when I had a question about some place around the globe or a natural phenomenon — hurricanes or tornadoes or earthquakes — I headed to the bookshelf to search through those yellow spines to find the issue that would have the answer.  I almost always found it.

     When our son was born in the late 80s I decided to be a stay-at-home mom.  During his afternoon nap times I immersed myself in far flung places and different ways of life.  All I needed was a cup of tea, a couple of chocolates, and an issue of National Geographic.

  from National Geographic, March 1967

from National Geographic, March 1967

     In the 90s we made scrapbooks together.  At first I hesitated to deface the magazines by cutting out pictures, but some of the issues were more than 20 years old.  I figured the learning experience for my son was worth it.  We “studied” about the red crab migration on Christmas Island and the daily habits of red-eyed tree frogs in the Amazon.  Monkeys were always a hit.  We clipped some photos and left others intact in the 1967 story of Snowflake, the world’s first white gorilla.  In that same issue we discovered “Squids: Jet-powered Torpedoes of the Deep” and they made the scrapbook, too.

     Later, more and more photos were clipped for school projects, and the stack of old issues dwindled.  I continued to subscribe to the magazine, however, and I kept some favorites, including the original copy of the 1988 centennial edition and the issue with that haunting photograph of the Afghan refugee girl on the cover.


     In hindsight, the purchase of those old magazines, which I did on a whim, was one of the best ten dollars I’ve ever spent.


Holiday gift catalog, 2014, National GeographicHoliday gift catalog, 2014, National Geographic

This holiday season consider shopping online at National Geographic.  They have interesting, unusual, and fun gifts and your purchase can make a difference in the lives of others.  Purchases support the National Geographic Society’s efforts in education, research, exploration, and conservation.  The Society often works closely with local artisans “to help bring critical income to indigenous communities all over the world.”





  1. Old Nat Geo magazines were simply spectacular. I remember finding them stashed at my grandparents during the 90’s. The bright photographs left me in a trance. I even giggled childishly at the nude villagers. The magazines always smelled of mothballs from being piled in all corners of the house. My, how times have changed. Thanks for the memory.

    • Trouncingaround — thanks for your comment. Yes, they are wonderful. I still have a few of the really old ones. Just can’t part with them. I certainly got my $10 worth of use from them. That mothball scent can take one back to many place… 🙂

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