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The Sears Catalog

In the movie ‘The Jerk,’ Steve Martin’s character is quite excited to see the new phone book has arrived. While I cannot say I showed the same joy and exuberance that he did, I would always be pleased when I came home from school and found that the latest seasonal catalog had arrived from Sears. They came three times a year — Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer and Christmas. Less often as I recall we would also receive catalogs from Montgomery Wards, JCPenney and Speigel. I was equally pleased to see these catalogs.

I would not uncommonly feel some frustration when they arrived as they would sit on our dining room table unopened for days. I could not be the one to remove the catalog from the mail wrapping. If I did so, I might have had to offer up an explanation for why I was looking through the catalog. I could of course always lie about my reasons for doing so but it also seemed to be good practice to keep my lies to a bare minimum. Unlike me, neither Mom or Dad normally felt the need to check out what was new in the catalog. [The Christmas issue was never an issue as all of us kids wanted to check out the new toys.]

On one level I was always eager to check out the new outfits and dresses and as I grew older lingerie to be found in these catalogs. However, there was a more satisfying pasttime I had that I could indulge whenever a new catalog arrived. New catalogs made the old catalog trash material. Once we had a new catalog, I would make the old catalog my own. One reason my parents would leave the catalogs unopened is because they rarely purchased using a catalog. They preferred to drive to Spokane and shop stores likes KMart to save money. So when I took possession of these old catalogs there was almost always an unused order form I could fill out on my own. I would browse these catalogs and find clothes I wanted to own and them complete these order forms. I was partial to using a pen when I did crosswords puzzles but for these forms I always used pencil so I could erase the entries and fill them out again. I would even to a total and calculate tax and shipping to get a final price.

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