Sears catalogs were sources of many Christmas wish lists


I heard a news report when I started my car. The tail end of a brief said that Sears would close over 200 more stores in 2019. My clue of a problem was a recent visit to Columbia Mall. Brown paper blocked the glass doors of Sears. That was a big-box-store anchor of the mall.

Sears was my store, apparently not for many other mid-Missourians.

Sears and I go back a long way. It was wish book of choice for a farm boy. When young, they put out a special catalog for me. The thin Christmas book was easy for me to navigate.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, I spent much time making lists from that book of toys, games and more. Those lists had little influence on Santa. Presents under the tree came from dime stores.

When I became aware of the Santa scam, my presents under the tree change drastically. As I recall later, I was disappointed to find that my presents were hand tools, which ended up in the farm toolbox.

Oh well. The catalog was a delight.

Many of my clothes came from Sears. That is those not sewn by Mom on her treadle Singer sewing machine. Later another source was my uncle’s hand-me downs. Those were my Mom’s brothers.

We were recycling long before that became the current mode.

Actually, we used three catalogs. The biggest competitor was Montgomery Ward, or as we said, “Monkey Ward.”  We called Sears by the full name, adding Roebuck. The other catalog came from Spiegel, which didn’t get much use from our family.

Sears was the Amazon of its day. From recent stories, it seems the CEO didn’t recognize the Internet power in seeking buyers.

Quality of goods still attracted me. I had refrigerators, dehumidifiers, car tires and batteries from Sears, the store not mail order.

In days of yore our mail carrier was Santa Claus. Sometimes, I waited by the roadside mailbox to receive mail from the carrier. In those early days in WWII he drove a Model A Ford with lots of room for mail. The back seat was full of mail-order packages.

Recently before Christmas our “old folks” Sunday School class turned to reflect on Christmases past. One of us recalled a special rural mailman. Mail was not to be delivered on Christmas. But, this one made a special run on the holiday delivering packages that arrived after the mail run the day before Christmas. This carrier knew those late packages would make Christmas for some families.

Sunday School became more educational when I joined the senior group. The best wisdom I heard came from one of our own. “Religion is not what you profess in Church, but what you do. Not what you do on Sunday but what you do every day of your life.”

That’s profound enough for me. The advocate of that thinking is a somewhat retired minister. Religion is not words, but actions. That’s harder to do.

I’d learned much earlier in teaching the power of a professor. At one of my retirements, when students came back to tell their stories about me, I learned a huge lesson. Boiled down it was: It’s not so much what I said, but what I showed how to do. My work set an example. From that the students learned to apply the words. Knowing the words is not enough. You have to apply them.

In Church or in School, teaching leads learning.

A tweet floated before my eyes this week. I wish I’d kept it to quote.

It said, just because you were raised a certain way, doesn’t mean that you stay that way. I like that. But, there’s a caution. Some things I learned as a kid stick with me and are helpful in adulthood. Some kids are missing those basics today, as I see it.

Tell of your wish lists at or Tweet to @AgNewsDailey.


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