‘The Big Book’ RIP (1893-1993)
Recognizing one of this country’s greatest teachers. By JB Blocker
The Millennials don’t know about this. Much of the GenX Generation don’t either. As an immigrant from the ‘60’s, the Sears and Roebuck catalogue was one of my best friends. It taught me America!
The first true Sears catalogue was produced and distributed in 1893. Many others were to follow. It became an iconic life line of what people wanted and needed across America. It you had a mailing address, you could own anything in those pages.
Clothing, toys, guns, farm tools, kitchen, living room, garage items, even houses and cars stirred the imagination of children from the city streets to farms, fields, and newly discovered parts of this growing country.
I remember in the early ‘70s listening to some old cowboys at the local pool hall in my panhandle farming community. They got in to a discussion about the new Christmas catalogue at the Montgomery Ward’s one day. The talk started over the price of things. But the discussion moved to how they had been making their wish list from those catalogues most of their lives. Those pictures of what the world looked like outside of their world gave them reasons to save their money.
Studying catalogues allowed America to become aware of the cost of things and how much money they would need to save.
A few seniors talked about the catalogues as a teaching tool. You could learn how to read while you were learning the value of all those items available from the pages of pictures, descriptions, and prices.
My Crash Course