Monday, December 17, 2007

Some Classic Christmas

I've collected so many images the past few years that I guess a post of pix from Xmases past was inevitable. A prime opportunity to start things off with a shot of the always-lovely Miss Bettie Page being positively fetching in festive spirits... (and why not?)

After the end of World War II, Christmas boomed in America and took on heretofore unseen Macy-Parade-Balloon proportions. Decorations themselves became a whole different animal as we reached the middle point of the last century. All new highs in cheerful-insanity and engineering-excess were an integral to the holiday least the commercial part.

Take this giant fiberglass Santa outside a department store for example... much more detailed and classically surreal than the big inflatable he'd be today.

ahh... and those department store window displays. Not a damn cell phone in sight...

We always went to my Grandmothers in Florida for Christmas, and almost every small town along the way had their own set of main street trappings. I remember this style in particular.

Ad-men reached new heights in abstracting the holiday in the 1940s & 50s... sometimes it was even hard to tell if Santa himself was truly being good or bad. (Wotta Shill, btw.)

Here's a room with an offbeat tree display from 1955 ( I know that smell).

And there was no Amazon or Wallmart... in the 1960s WE had the Sears Wish Book!
( It usually came in the mail around Halloween.)

Where you could order anything you could think of practically!

...The toy sections seemed endless... (and what a great spread this is!)

Yeah... Like I Wish I still had that Bugs Bunny.

And pages and pages of Christmas decor...

Sears, Pennys and all the Catalog stores sold more than a couple of different types of Mangers and accessories...

And all the cheesy crap that I love so much now...

Love the cardboard fireplaces. (Kids in apartments need a Santa snorkel too!)

The door coverings were hot at the end of the '60s. Ehh... not so much now.

Where's all this big-plastic illuminated stuff now? Antique stores? Flea Markets?

There's a couple of these plastic Santas around town that I've noticed... and they're TALL --around 5 feet!

Well, keeping the spirit alive here's our very own front door from last Christmas 2006. (The illuminated Reindeer we bought at sears in 1993 --the last year they sold them... The "Noel pole" I bought at Zayre in 1974 --for 3.99).

And here's the view down our walkway to the front door.

And last, when I went inside I snapped this picture of our own set -- and I didn't fake this, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was actually on Cartoon Network at the time.
Best wishes to all Arglebargle readers! Stay tuned --much more ahead in 2008!

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Blogger Robert Pope said...

You've made me day. Swell stuff.

9:18 AM

Anonymous royatl said...

what! you gutted a perfectly good old black and white console set and put a flat screen in it?!

tsk tsk.

11:04 PM

Anonymous CultTVman said...

I love it...

First, that's not the Betty Page Christmas photo that I remember so well.... :)

Man, the catalog pages really flooded back memories. The Sears, JCPenny and Wards Christmas catalogs were my dreamland. I always wanted Capt. Action but never had it until I was in my 30s! I had all that Major Matt Mason stuff. And wow, we even had one of those cardboard fireplaces!

Thanks for sharing Clay!


11:51 AM

Blogger C. Martin Croker said...

Royatl: Perfectly good? ...I pulled that TV out of a trashpile in Virginia Highlands --It had a smashed tube and cats had been living in it... so go tsk yourself.

2:24 PM

Blogger Maurizio Ercole said...

Hi Martin! Wonderfull adds, I love this blog! I have added your URL in my blog... look at my weird stuf links.

4:10 PM

Blogger BlogFoot said...

That giant fiberglass Santa is positively epic.

8:43 PM

Blogger BlogFoot said...

Love your blog, by the way. I'm going to link you in mine, as we muse about similar topics at times. Check it out and see if you care to add my link. If not, that's cool. I'm not all blog militant.

9:59 AM

Blogger Karswell said...

I recently moved into an old 50's house and in the attic found tons of catalogs from the 50's and 60's... it's like a goldmine of memories. Also found some old phone books which are alot of fun to page through too, though equally depressing to dial a long gone Burger Chef phone number and discover it's now of course an Auto Zone.

11:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim T says:
Great stuff, lad! The Wish Book's arrival in the mail was a much anticipated event at our house as well.

2:47 PM

Blogger Dave said...

Love this vinatge stuff. Thanks for sharing. we had one of those cardboard fireplaces too until my Dad broke down, and installed a real one. we also had one of those Putz look cardboad village sets, althought ours only had 10 pieces instead of the 16 shown on the page you titled "And all the cheesy crap that I love so much now...
." Thanks for sharing.


12:51 AM

Blogger Dave said...


You'd make a small fortune selling those old catalogs on ebay. I saw a Woolworth's Wish Book from 1959 go for almost $200.00 once on ebay.


12:52 AM

Blogger Smilodonna said...

Croker said: "Where's all this big-plastic illuminated stuff now? Antique stores? Flea Markets?"
I think it all ended up in the yards of about five houses in my town, whose residents cover every square inch of their yards (and roofs) with glowing santas, snowmen, and carolers. I think they know one another as each house has its own separate theme that does not compete with any of the others (a strictly snowman house, a strictly Santa house, etc). It really is a glorious sight to behold. Yeah, they probably got 'em from used venues, but those lucky decorations go to happy homes.
Wonderful stuff!

7:46 PM

Blogger Ace Jackalope said...

Have you any idea where or when the photo of the giant fiberglass Santa was taken? I photographed a very similar Santa near Kansas City recently and would love to know more about the manufacturer and time line of those things. Here's all I know so far:

4:34 AM


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