Tuesday, 8 October 2019
The way we were
So how did we live in 1942? The Christmas Book was obviously not as comprehensive as a full Sears catalog but this 224 page book still gives a good impression of what must have been in millions of homes, especially the seventy-five pages of toys. Some of these are quite impressive, a Marx dial typewriter, portable phonograph, movie projector (and a selection of movies like Mickey Mouse, Popeye, the Three Stooges, Our gang, Charlie Chaplin) kitchen appliances: Prosperity stove, Coldspot refrigerator, Kenmore washer. As the country was now at war toy tanks, battleships, cardboard fighter planes were available and how about a Junior air raid warden kit for $1.10.
I was surprised at how little everything cost, though the average wage in 1942 was $36 a week. Sears was proud of their low prices and three pages list the ceiling price as decided by the Office of Price Administration, everything in the catalog is always below these prices. The most expensive item I could find was a Platform rocker at $24.88 (Ceiling price $28.08) hundreds of everyday household items cost between a few cents and three dollars.
The book is paperback size unlike a normal Sears catalog and it's nicely produced with sixty-two pages in color and printed on a reasonable matt art paper. For those of a certain age this will make an ideal present under the tree.