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COLUMNISTS

Memories from the 1942 Sears Christmas Book

Jerry Apps
An old catalog can bring back so many memories.

What a surprise Christmas gift I received this year. One I had not expected. One I didn’t even think was available. It’s a facsimile copy of the 1942 Sears Christmas book. I was eight years old in 1942, a farm kid interested in about everything, especially the items on the pages of this catalog that arrived in our mailbox every November.

World War II had started on December 7, 1941. And now, a year later, thousands of sons and husbands were off to war. These were tough times. The country had just begun to recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s, and now, War with all of its fears and challenges. And I, a little eight-year-old feasting my eyes on things I would never have because I knew my family was just hanging on after 10 years of low prices and bad weather.

But it cost nothing to look. So, I pored over pages of fun looking toys: An “Exclusive 57-Piece Farm Set,” complete with barn, silo, farmhouse, chicken house, and other farm buildings. Plus, model cows, horses and wagon, ducks, pigs, and chickens. All for $2.98.

A cork gun shooting gallery of six crows on a fence, 52 cents. A miniature bowling game with duckpins, 85 cents. And Tinkertoys. Oh, how I wanted some Tinkertoys because then I could build things. Regular set, $1.05.  And books, so many books to choose from, “Black Beauty,” “Bambi,” “The Lone Ranger” – 48 cents each. 

And best of all, a windup train (we had no electricity at the time) with thirty-five pieces from a windup engine to the caboose and tracks for the train to run on...$3.88. This I did receive one year, and I still have it and it still works.

Oh, the memories. So many memories.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: An old catalog can bring back so many memories.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.