Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking Back at the Sears Wish Book Catalog 1979 (Part 1)

This Christmas I received a Vermont Country Store Catalog in the mail for the first time. Taking a look at their old-fashioned catalog advertising format left me nostalgic for the many catalogs that used to arrive in the mail right before the holidays back when I was a child. The undisputed master of the catalogs in my opinion was the Sears Wishbook. I went to the Sears online website to see if I could recreate that Sears Wishbook feeling. I found the website to be organized very oddly and that most of the staples of their past Wish Books were not available on their website:

** Where were the Gourmet Processed Cheese Gift Packs or the many cans of nuts? (Especially the cheese in a frying pan gift! How could you ever go wrong with that classic?!?)
** Where were the tartan granny nightgowns trimmed in lace in sizes for men, women, boys, and girls? (Okay technically the men and boys items were called night shirts....but still!)
** Where were the pages of useless but festive decorative gifts for under $10 to give to Drunk Aunt Sally or Stuck-up Third Cousin Jenny?

How I miss the good old days of silencing people who complained about how hard you were to buy for by handing them the Sears Catalog with little pieces of paper for the pages that contain items you would enjoy receiving. Of course I never did receive such exotic gifts as Petit Fours, Cans of Nuts, a new Dollhouse, the Barbie Dream House, a Holly Hobbie nightgown, Chemistry Set, or the holy grail of gifts: a food cheese/sausage/cracker/chocolate sampler gift pack of my very own! Obviously our family was on a budget like most families so when I look at the prices on some of the items I can see why my parents did not buy them for me...they did the best they could by buying some of the less expensive items further down on my wishlist and of course more than once I received gifts that my parents must have wanted as a children but held absolutely no interest for me such as:

* A Laverne and Shirley Mystery Date Game.
* An ugly blue vinyl toy chest/hope chest.
* Slipper socks (although this gift came from Grandma of course.)
* A Clown doll.
* A Victorian looking candle holder.
* A Barrel full of Monkeys (I know some people love these things and don't want to offend those people but to me they were always a Barrel full of Boring.)

Looking through the Sear's 1979 Wishbook brings up some interesting item on practically every page however the page I spent the most time looking at and would pray for years in a row that by some miracle I should receive this expensive gift (because having this toy would of course make my life complete and ensure happiness for the rest of the days of my life!) was:

At what is equivalent to $206 today I can understand why I never received parents like many parents back in 1979 would never dream of spending $206 on a toy for one of their children. Although times and cultures have changed... which is apparent when you hear stories of parents from all income levels spending that or even more than that to buy their child a video game system or new iPod for this Christmas.

Here is the link to the flickr account of the person who so kindly uploaded this whole interesting 1979 Sears Wish Book catalog.

A question for the Comments: "What page was your favorite to look at when you were younger and what items where they?" or "What catalog page do you wish existed today so that you could order something from it?"

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