Answer Man: Why are men's shirts missing pockets?

News-DemocratMay 7, 2014 

What's up with all the men's shirts being made without a pocket? First they took away my slide-rule holster, then they stopped making pocket protectors and now this! -- W.N., of Belleville

Hey, if you pay $92 for a shirt, the least it could have is a pocket, right? But even at Brooks Brothers, I found customers wondering why the clothier's French-cuff shirts don't have them.

As it turns out, the answer is partly aesthetic, partly economic. Many of the finest European shirt makers leave them off dress shirts because they figure if you're wearing pants, vest and a coat, you have more than enough storage space for all your hankies and iThings. They think a pocket messes up the sleek lines, especially, say, if you're wearing a thin tie and next to it is a honking pocket ruining the looks of some $500 creation.

However, on the cheaper versions made in China and Indonesia for department and discount stores, I suspect it's also a matter of saving manufacturing time and material by going with a plain front. It may not sound like much, but just look at all the companies that have squeezed 1.4 ounces out of your dishwashing liquid bottle, etc., so they can proudly say they didn't raise the price.

Personally, I hate pocketless shirts, but look on the bright side: As least you don't have to worry about one of your Papermate fountain pens leaking in them, right? And if you're desperate you can always go to and design your own -- with or without pocket.

I am looking for a metal mailbox name sign that has a place for name and house number on it. We can't find anything like that anywhere. -- M. Going

I think I have just what the mailman ordered from Nasco in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

If you aren't familiar, Nasco was started in 1941 by Norman Eckley, a vocational agricultural teacher who wanted to offer teaching aids to fellow ag teachers. In the 70 years since, Nasco has added more than 80,000 products sold in more than 180 countries.

In your case, you can choose from signs with one to three tiers of small and large plates. The large plate is 21/2 by 18 inches long and can take up to 17 letters and numbers. The small plate is 21/2 by 7 inches and accepts up to six digits. They contain white, reflector-beaded letters and numbers on black, baked enameled aluminum.

It will be custom-made in Colorado with delivery in 8-10 weeks after you order it. A single custom-made long plate is $41.95, a small plate on top of a large plate is $47.95, a double large plate is $49.95 and a small plate on top of two large plates is $53.95. To see them, go to and search for "mailbox name plate." To order, call 800-558-9595.

You might also try a general Internet search for other providers, but I didn't have much luck. If you'd just like to stick your number on the box, Home Depot has a plate for $16 -- it's in aisle 12 of the Belleville Crossing store.

Why can't we throw phone books in with newspapers in those recycling bins? -- W.N.C., of Collinsville

It's astounding how wasteful we are sometimes.

According to one estimate, if all the phone books in the country were recycled, we would save 650,000 tons of paper and free up 2 million cubic yards of landfill space. Alas, only an estimated 18 percent of phone books are recycled.

And, as you note, those ubiquitous yellow-and-green bins don't make it easier because they don't accept them -- for a good reason. The fibers in phone book paper are too short to be mixed with newsprint and slick magazine paper to make new newsprint. In fact, if a few phone books slip in, they can contaminate the recyclability of the other paper, according to Abitibi, which rejects cardboard, fiberboard and hard-cover books for much the same reason. Phone book ink also is hard to remove from a page, it says.

But please look for designated drop-offs for phone books because scrap wood can be added to this paper to make new phone books. Otherwise, environmentalists suggest shredding your books and using them as garden mulch, packaging filler (instead of those polystyrene peanuts) and barbecue fire starters.

Today's trivia

Under what pseudonym would you have found Arnold Schwarzenegger listed in the credits of his first movie, "Hercules in New York"?

Answer to Wednesday's trivia: His movie career was just starting to come alive, but the casting director picked then-28-year-old Kevin Costner to play the corpse in the 1983 movie, "The Big Chill." By the time the movie came out, however, his role was dead, too. All footage of his face wound up on the cutting room floor; you can only see the rest of his body being dressed at the start of the film. Since then, of course, he has won two Oscars for "Dances with Wolves" and an Emmy for "Hatfields and McCoys."

Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or or call 618-239-2465.

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