Growing up in the 1970’s the Christmas season always began with the arrival of the Sears Wishbook in the mail. There has never been a more aptly named book. If you were like me, this book defined the Christmas season. I’d take the catalog, lay down on the floor in the front living room, so as not to be distracted by the TV, and immediately flip to the toy section (It was always in the back) and commence dreaming. If a toy wasn’t in the Sears catalog it simply didn’t exist.
So join me for a dream. The year is 1975, and I have just turned 7. It is a cold day, and I am sitting over the heat register in the front room, wrapped in an afgan, turning the pages…
Before we get to the good stuff, first we need to give some perspective. For anyone that grew up in the 1970’s, you have probably gone through therepy because of outfits like these. I can’t tell if the kids are singing, or screaming. It doesn’t get anymore more quintessential 70’s than the plaid polyester suit, with matching white leather belt.
And just in case you think the girls had it any easier, check these out. The poor girl on the right looks like she has been locked into a Holly Hobby Iron Maiden. Is it any wonder that 25% of my generation is on antidepressants?
About half the boys I knew had this bed spread in their bedroom. I was always jealous of them. Last year I looked, and looked for something similar for 20 Prospect Jr.’s bedroom, to no avail.
The mid 70’s was the dawn of the BMX craze. At the time a BMX bike was little more than a banana seat Schwin stingray with knobby tires. I fondly remember my Huffy Thunder road. Great for popping wheelies, or doing Evil Kneivil style jumps.
Did Sears only mail these to kids in the North? I used to always look at these backyard rinks and wonder if anyone owned one. In Batavia we never had the consistently cold temperatures to make outdoor rinks.
OK, now we are into the good stuff. We had the Air Hockey table on the lower right. We used to keep it in the cellar. I can still remember trying to muscle that thing up the basement steps to put it on the kitchen table to play. Plug it into the wall and the fan would come to life. The “ice” surface would rise, and the little red puck would begin to float. Then ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk, clunk SCORE!!!!
This one page was the very stuff of dreams. I got the Electric football game in the middle left. ($8.87!) Which my parents soon augmented by mail ordering four NFL teams for me (I think my Big Bruddah picked them out) The Rams, Raiders, Vikings and Cowboys. I spent countless hours playing this game. I eventually lost the cardboard stadium, and would fashion one myself out of poster board, drawing in multicolored dots for the people. I would also eventually add the Broncos and Seahawks to the list of teams. As my friend Mike from across the street can attest, our Mom’s would bring home the little paper circles from the three hole punches, and we would spread them over the field to have snow games. Buzzzzzzzzzz…. it’s a fake field goal, Chester Merkel rolls left, touchdown!!!!!
In 79′ I would get one of those Coleco table hockey games as well, but in 75′ I was still playing my bruddah’s older NHLPA version (as pictured in a post last week). Big Bruddah’s game had the classic metal players. Oakland, and Chicago if my memory is correct…
Super Toe! I had forgotten about this guy. You hit him on the head and he kicked that hard plastic football. The harder you hit, the farther he kicked. Are you getting the sense that I was spoiled? What can I say… Mom and Dad always did love me best.
This was the grand daddy of them all. The AFX slot car track. Never did get this one, although Santa brought me a Tyco one. For those that had one you know that the Tyco version was the Betamax version of slot car tracks. It was fun, but it never quite matched the performance of the AFX. Of course, we were a Chrysler family, so I guess the shoe fit.
I was mad for trains as a kid. I had the good fortune of inheriting my big bruddah’s HO train set, which originated with one of my Uncles. Eventually I would get a 4′ x 8′ plywood board, and in the 7th grade I built my railroad empire down in the cellar. I still have the HO trains in a box, minus track and transformers. I really do need to bring them out and get them running for 20 Prospect Jr. one of these days. He’s old enough now to appreciate them.
GI Joe with Kung Foo grip! Ah.. the Kung Foo craze of the 70’s. When GI Joe grew a beard. Hardly Government Issue in my opinion, but it was the 70’s. Post ‘Nam, I guess the emphasis was on trying to make Joe into an “action figure” and not a soldier. Coulda been worse, they could have made him into an Alan Alda look-a-like that preached at you when you pulled the string. Still, we knew better. Firepower was what GI Joe was all about. You don’t liberate Europe from the Jerry’s with a shark hunting harpoon.
Eventually Joe got the “mange”, and the fuzzy hair fell out in patches. Poor GI Joe. I got hours of enjoyment out of that GI Joe Helicopter though…
This was 1975. The year before the Bicentennial when everything was painted red, white and blue. It was also the pre-Star Wars world. Look closely kids. Before Star Wars all an 7 year old boy had to dream about was the Bionic Man, and the Planet of the Apes. I forget how horrible Science Fiction was in the early 70’s. It was always about post apopocalyptic death. Soylent Green, the Andromeda Strain, preachy Apes reminding us we were a lower life form than them. You cannot over estimate the joy that Stars Wars brought, and how it liberated us to actually have fun again. George Lucas, we will forever be in your debt. I’m even willing to give you a pass on the Ewoks, but Jar Jar Binks?
So what awesome toys did you dream about when you were a kid? What pages of the old Sears & Roebuck Wishbook were dog-eared from your frequent wishing?
Check out this archive of scanned copies of Christmas catalogs going back to the 30’s, and let yourself dream like a 7 year old…