Tuesday, December 24, 2013

1960s Sears Wish Books

My memories of thumbing through the toy section of the Sears Wish Books published during the 1960s, specifically from 1963 through approximately 1969, are still quite vivid.  By 1969, my interest in dolls had faded, but in the years prior, I enjoyed circling the dolls and toys I wanted, hoping that these things would be under the Christmas tree.

Prior to age 10, Christmas Eve would find me full of anticipation.  I would always stay up until after the local weatherman, Dale Milford, had provided the forecast and used his primitive animated graphics to illustrate Santa's exact location.  I always wanted to be asleep before Santa arrived to our house, because although he would bear toys and gifts, I was terrified of him!

In later years, after discovering what Santa really was, I still continued to circle desired stuff in the Sears Wish Books.  I had also discovered my mother's toy-hiding places and would peek at some of my toys as soon as she began hiding them and when the "coast was clear" for me to invade these places.  My invasions were done with precision, often alone, but sometimes with my brother as my accomplice.  Except for once, I made certain I  left everything exactly the way she had it because I did not want to suffer her wrath.  After one invasion, she angrily asked, "Who's been in my closet?"  My answer was silence.  If I didn't say anything, she couldn't prove it was me and I wouldn't have to lie.  After I became older, I discontinued this behavior to eliminate the need to pretend to be surprised on Christmas morning as well as to rid myself of the guilt of having done this.  

Because my mother is a fashionista, I believe she wanted Barbie for me more than I wanted the doll for myself.  I was between the ages 9 and 10 when I received my first round of Barbie, Midge, and Ken dolls and extra clothing packs.   I honestly do not remember circling Barbie in any Sears Christmas Wish Book, but in separate years I did circle Ideal's Tammy and Pepper, and Barbie's little sister Skipper.

This book is a compilation of doll and bear pages from Sears Wish Books from 1950 through 1969.

 The doll pages of the 1950-1969 Sears catalog are compiled in their entirety in the book, The Doll & Teddy Bear Department, edited by Thomas W. Holland, published by Windmill Press in 1997. 

In this book, the introduction to the 1963 Sears Wish Book reads:
The Barbie explosion hit the Christmas Wish Book big in 1963.  The headline reads, "Sears puts at your fingertips more of what America's children want most:  Barbie and her friends with 4 pages of wardrobes and accessories."  The buying public had made the shapely doll a huge success and now there were costumes and accessories galore.  Barbie now had bedroom suites, sports cars, authorized carrying cases and more.  She even had a beau, Ken, and a best friend named Midge.

She also had competition.  Sears aggressively marketed Ideal's Tammy, a teenager not as busty or thin as Barbie, along with her Mom, Dad and siblings Pepper and Ted.  Tammy was a wholesome family girl... not a flighty high-fashion model!  But the public spoke again and Tammy never came near Barbie's popularity...

Published in black and white, flipping through specific catalog years of The Doll & Teddy Bear Department can still conjure up fond memories.  I can easily visualize my young self thumbing through the actual pages of the 1960s Sears Wish Books in hopes that those circled items would appear under the Christmas tree or be found, pre-Christmas, in Mama's hiding places.    

Today is Christmas Eve.  I now get to enjoy the anticipation of Christmas Day through the emotions displayed by my grandsons.  While they have never viewed a Sears Wish Book or invaded any hiding places, they have either circled the Toys R Us Toy Book, prepared handwritten lists, stated their desires vocally, or used some other form to communicate their Christmas wishes.


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  1. I remember those Sears Roebuck and Co wish books but my favorite was the JC Penny wish book. I would poor over that thing for months! It's not like we ever got anything out of them, I was just always fascinated at the stuff the white people got because that's who I thought that stuff was for.

  2. Muff you have given me my first laugh of the day! Thank you and Merry Christmas!


  3. I remember the year I got Julia and Francie! It was my favorite Christmas was a child. Very few Christmas morning since has been it's equal! Here we had the Kiddie City circular. It was thick with tons of toys. With it and the Saturday morning commercials, there was hours of doll dreaming. Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks Ms. Leo. Happy Holidays to you and your family!



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