In my boxes of memorabilia, I came across some items from my Christmas Wish List ~ 1955. I didn’t find lists wishing for world peace, or the end to world hunger. Nope, I found stuff any naïve 7 year old would have been thrilled with…. in 1955.
Probably why I am who I am!
Growing up in the 50’s and even into the 60’s there weren’t many kids that didn’t wear out the pages of a Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Wards Christmas catalogue ‘dog earing’ pages and circling items. Those two books literally held the dreams and wishes of 99.9% of the male population and a lot of the girls as well. Let’s face it, that was the world in your hands!! Guns, knives, canvas tents, toys, hunting clothes.
I was lucky living on the farm plus having an uncle that was seriously into hunting and trapping. Once in a while I travelled his trap line with him and was taken along on fishing trips. He influenced my love of the outdoors and encouraged it by passing on a much treasured publication called “The Trapper Magazine”.
Now not only were there articles about trapping and the outdoors but there were advertisements dreams were made of. This issue was the Fall issue and was packed with must have items for my Christmas wish list. (When I went through the pages I thought there were coffee stains on some of the pages, but I think they’re actually drool stains.)
And if you already had a knife, who couldn’t use a Marble’s Axe?
When you think about those prices for an axe coming in at $6-12, that was a considerable investment in 1955. Average family income was around $4200. Now if you wanted some of these ‘finer’ things in life, you needed to supplement your income and on the farm, fur trapping was an option. I can remember making more then one deal with dad to supplement the purchase of a ‘must have’ item by agreeing to come up with 1/2 of the purchase price. I’m not a fan of trapping, but it definitely played a roll in rural economies in the 50’s.
Not a trend setter but a follower…
So was I a part of this fad? Damned straight! My dream knife was a Davy Crocket pocket knife. Imperial built these jewels and if you owned one, plus a coonskin cap and a BB gun, you were definitely at the top of the social ladder of 7 year old’s. I was in the club. There weren’t many boys that didn’t have items like these on their Christmas Wish List back in the day.
It’s hard to explain the excitement of a treasure like these showing up under the Christmas tree 65 years ago. The fact that I still have that original Davy Crockett knife on the left is a testimony to how bad I wanted it. I really wanted the ‘hatchet’ knife on the right and had to wait 60+ years to fulfill that dream. The prestige and thrill of owning something so simple is impossible to explain to kids today. Hell, it’s hard to explain to some ‘young’ (mid 30’s) adults!
When I was a kid, Christmas Wish lists weren’t all that long in content. You knew you had to focus in on a couple of reasonably priced items that Santa could afford. That’s why the pages of those catalogues were so worn. A lot of thought went into the process. You couldn’t afford to make a mistake and end up with new underwear and socks! My best buddy at the time and I spent hour upon hour pouring over the Sears Christmas Catalogue that would fulfil all of our dreams. What a great time.
Where I’ve come from
I told the story a year or so ago about my dad’s quest for the perfect Christmas tree. In brief, when I was in high school he and I found a tree that had a gorgeous, full bottom. The top was nice but the problem was fitting a 10′ tree into a room with 8′ ceilings. We came up with the solution of cutting off the top of the tree to keep the perfectly shaped bottom. The tree had the appearance of growing through the ceiling. Mom didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as dad and I. The pic below helps explain the motivation to find the perfect tree once he was making a little more money. Too many Christmas’ we had a tree that came from our own thinning wind break on the farm. It doesn’t look like much by today’s standards and at the time, we didn’t think much of it. We were pretty thrilled to have a tree.
It’s amazing how the times have changed. What we wanted as kids seems pretty minor compared to what kids expect today. It didn’t matter if the Christmas Tree wasn’t perfect and full. Presents weren’t stacked to the ceiling. Christmas lists weren’t measured in pages and kept on a computer. All of us were just really grateful for what we got.
Remember to look forward while you’re looking back
I’ve said it countless times, I wouldn’t want to go back to those days. As wonderful as they were in many respects, been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.
The best part of those old days is looking back and remembering where we came from. Going outdoors to the outhouse when it was snowing and 10 below zero. Huddling by the oil burner on a cold winter evening trying to stay warm. Helping stack straw bales around the house to keep the cold winter breeze out. It wasn’t easy, but we didn’t know any better.
Today, I look through the old pictures and go through some of my childhood treasures. They bring back great memories. Getting together after Christmas with my buddy to check out each others gifts. The school Christmas program at the old country school with everyone packed in so tight you couldn’t move, standing room only and the smell of wet wool clothes. Even sitting by the stove at home with my sister reading to me. And this was a favorite book.
So 65 years later what’s on my Christmas Wish List? How about 50#’s of peanuts for my squirrels and blue jays. A wish that everyone can spend a day forgetting about the miseries of the past year. A hope that all of you can remember the marvels of Christmas’ past when all your dreams came true. A promise that next year could be one of our best ever. But most of all I wish Everyone a Very Merry Christmas!!!