Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
I trust in Thee.
--Ann Kimmel

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Friday, September 26, 2014

Particularly Revealing

It's the weekend, time to unwind and have a few laughs. I've got one for you, at least.

Do you know what these are? Ancient precursors to internet e-trade: mail order catalogs.

Long before eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, this is what shoppers were surfing. (Well, when they weren't sitting on them. These were also precursors to booster seats, and a generation or two of Americans rested their small bottoms on stacks of these as they sat at the dinner table.) Sears... Montgomery Wards... Spiegel... J.C. Penney...  Wonderful big, fat, meaty catalogs full of hundreds of pages of clothing, housewares, furniture, tools, and toys! Generally you could count on receiving at least three of them per major retailer per year. There was the big Spring/Summer issue, the all-important back-to-school Fall/Winter catalogue, and the ones we kiddos all lived for--the Christmas "Wish Book", indispensable for making out those all-important "What I Want for Christmas" lists for Santa Claus.

I have five of the large vintage mail order catalogues, and every now and again I'll pull one out for a fascinating stroll through the past, poring over the pages, reminiscing. They're great resources, too, for identifying and dating mid-century collectibles, so if you see one of these lying around at someone's garage sale or gathering dust in an attic, do grab it if you can. Nowadays they're getting pricey if you do find one--about $15 minimum and often more than that for the older, rarer issues, like this treasure from Etsy shop, RecaptureMemories:

1950 Vintage Montgomery Ward Mail Order Catalog with Fashion, Household, Tools, etc
These volumes are truly glimpses at the lives and times of the middle-class Americans who shopped from them. The wares were practical, mainstream, and family-friendly wholesome. Nothing outlandish, nothing "over the top". 

There was, however, one major exception. But it wasn't over the top. 

It was out at the bottom.

Yes, I'm referring to the infamous Sears Fall/Winter issue of 1975, and the scandalous photo of The Man on Page 602.

I had actually had this issue in my collection for years without knowing its singular claim to fame, until my brother-in-law put me onto it. I guess I missed the furor while it was going on, but he says it even made the national evening news at the time. 

Snopes.com says the report of the alleged indiscretion is "undetermined", that Sears claims it was just a black-and-white photography glitch, and maybe that's so. All the same, it's humorous--not just because of the photograph (which is fairly indistinct, actually), but because of the uproar which ensued when the public noticed it..

My own copy of the offending issue.
Okay, that's enough history....  On to a 100% Epsteam treasury I made earlier today. I hope you'll click on and visit some of these great shops. Hey, Sears isn't going to send you a Wish Book this year, you know!



  1. love the catalog tale, and the red & yellow treasury is Hot Hotter Hottest.

    I'm partial to the melmac cup pincushion, as it's in my Etsy shop! thank you

  2. love the old catalog books. great memories reading those and making notes in the margins!