This item is posted not because it is in any way significant, but precisely because it is so completely insignificant. This renewal notice, printed on thin, cheap pink paper — paper so acidic that it has burned a deep stain into the pages between which it has lain for the past 75 years — was tucked into hundreds, maybe thousands of copies of the Improvement Era in 1935. Tens of thousands of similar notices must have accompanied issues in other years. It would have been a common, familiar piece of litter in the lives of our grandparents.
But for all the thousands of such renewal notices that were printed, how many exist today? Does the survival of this copy add anything to our knowledge of or feel for life in the Mormon past? If all copies had utterly vanished, would history be any the poorer? I think so, although I can’t exactly say why. I only know that in common with all people, we Mormons tend to save the things we know are valuable — the leather Bibles, the silver Sacrament services, the paintings, the carved furniture — while letting vanish many of the small details that make up our world.
We can’t save everything, and probably shouldn’t even try to do so. But when something survives against the odds, somehow the picture of our past comes into sharper focus, if only infinitesimally so.