By Prof. Martin Meadows
Recently I saw the following aphorism in an emailed collection of similar expressions: “You never appreciate what you have till it’s gone. Toilet paper is a good example.” That saying is quite amusing; however, the reason I mention it is because that is precisely what reminded me of, and thereupon gave me the idea to revisit, the situation that existed in Santo Tomas Internment Camp (a.k.a. STIC) regarding the rarely if ever discussed subject of toilet paper, now known more politely as bathroom tissue — hereinafter to be referred to as BT. I decided to explore the topic partly for the edification (?) of those who are unaware of it; partly in the hope that it would elicit similar recollections from others (especially women, whose perspective unfortunately is necessarily missing here); partly for my own records; and primarily because I was unable to find any treatment of it elsewhere. That is surprising, considering that BT is almost the equal of food and drink as a necessity of life (he said tongue-in-cheek). To be specific, I found no discussion of it in the four principal sources of information about camp life that I consulted for this brief survey. They include three primary sources (primary in the sense that they (1) were written by internees, and (2) are about STIC in general rather than personal accounts centered on the authors), and one secondary source. These are cited next in a short bibliographic detour.