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Best Wishes and Happy Shopping

(Please note: this was first posted on my website YourBiography2.com.)

Before 1880 over half the population of the United States lived on the farm, and, yes, life was difficult. People woke up at the crack of dawn and read by candlelight. It’s hard to believe, but there was no electricity, no refrigeration or air conditioning, no radio or television, no computers or cell phones.

For entertainment, well, there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment. There wasn’t much shopping, either, except at the general store. Even there merchandise was limited and practical, and the head of the family did most of the shopping, bartering butter, cheese, eggs, vegetables and other staples that the merchant would resell. Thank goodness, Sears and Roebuck came along when they did.

For the 1925 woman who... From: HA! Designs - Art - by Heather

For the 1925 woman who… From: HA! Designs – Art – by Heather

Richard Sears produced his first catalog in 1893. The following year he expanded his self-declared “Book of Bargains” from jewelry and watches to include sewing machines, sporting goods, musical instruments, saddles, firearms, buggies, bicycles, baby carriages, furniture, china, glassware, and clothing for the whole family. The 1895 edition consisted of 532 pages. In 1896 he published in the spring and fall and added specialty catalogs, which two years later included photographic goods and talking machines.

Early on Sears added color. Buggies were presented in red, green, brown, and black with gold or silver trim on buggies. In 1897, shoes were advertised in black, red and brown. In 1899 carpets, furniture, and china were shown in various shades.

Although Mr. Sears retired in 1908, the company he started has always kept up with the times. In 1909 Sears carried a motor buggy. This item was replaced in 1913 with a specialty catalog for automobiles. In subsequent decades he carried television sets, dishwashers, electronic garage door openers, and microwave ovens.

The Christmas catalog first appeared in 1933. Its 87 pages were filled with presents for the entire family. There were dolls and toy trains, fruitcakes and chocolates, and live singing canaries, the latter being an accompaniment for budding American Idol competitors, perhaps. The cover of the 1937 catalog showed a photo of a brother and sister with the quote, “See the things that Santa brought, More’n what we thought he ought. Things for Mom and Daddy, too, N we hope there’s some for you.” In 1968 it was renamed the “Wish Book.”

If you long for the good old days, let your fingers do the walking through the Wish Book. It’s been online since 1998. In 2010 Sears went mobile, so customers can access the catalog with their smartphones. Earlier this year the company added another convenience: if you buy online and choose to pick up your purchase, a store associate will bring your shopping cart out to you. You won’t even have to leave your car.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

 

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10 Quotes on Childhood Recollections

(Please note: This was first posted on my new website YourBiography2.com.)

As we get older we find it difficult, if not impossible, to remember growing up. Yet we all have a first memory. Mine is the time I tied my shoes by myself. Oh, I was so excited and proud. I raced down the steps to tell my Mom.

Photo by: ToniVC

Photo by: ToniVC

Here are ten quotes of early childhood recollections. They all make perfect sense, give the paths the speakers have taken and the careers they’ve had.

I spent my childhood eating. The only exercise I got was trying to twist off the cap of a jar of mayonnaise.

— Richard Simmons, fitness guru

Playing guitar was one of my childhood hobbies, and I had played a little at school and at camp. My parents would drag me out to perform for my family, like all parents do, but it was a hobby – nothing more.

— Bonnie Raitt, singer

I have a love affair with tomatoes and corn. I remember them from my childhood. I only had them in the summer. They were extraordinary.

— Alice Waters, chef

My earliest thought, long before I was in high school, was just to go away, get out of my house, get out of my city. I went to Medford High School, but even in grade school and junior high, I fantasized about leaving.

— Paul Theroux, travel writer

One of my earliest memories was me singing ‘Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ at the top of my voice when I was seven. I got totally carried away. My grandmother, Sarah, was in the next room. I didn’t even realize she was there. I was terribly embarrassed.

— James Taylor, singer

My earliest memories are doing commercials and TV.

— Jodie Foster, actress

I played music and sang from my earliest memories. The first pictures of me show me wandering around with a guitar that was larger than I was, and it became almost second nature to me.

— Dwight Yoakam, singer

I still love making hamburgers on the grill. I guess whenever I eat them childhood memories come up for me.

— Bobby Flay, chef

Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.

— Mariska Hargitay, actress

I’m just lucky. I do have very clear memories of childhood. I find that many people don’t, but I’m just very fortunate that I have that kind of memory.

— Beverly Cleary, writer of children’s literature

What about you? Does the way you were jive with who you’ve become?

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

 

 

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What’s for Dinner?

(Please note: This was first posted on my new website YourBiography2.com.)

Today’s Parade magazine in the Sunday morning paper was all about “What America Eats.” It was as loaded with statistics as a twice-baked potato is with calories.

Fish tacos with mango. Photo by: jpellgen

Fish tacos with mango. Photo by: jpellgen

In some cases, I was with the majority and, others, with the minority. For example, 71% of us take supplements. That’s my husband and me. He meticulously puts out our supplements to take with meals. If we’re eating out, he puts them in his and her old film canisters to take with us.

However, only 12% have a sweet after dinner. We fall in this category, too – his influence. He saves room for dessert. As much as I like sweets, his portion is almost always larger than mine.

95% said they had started diets on either a Sunday or a Monday. Nope, that’s not me. I start diets every day of the week.

11% said they don’t have anything at all at breakfast. Nope, that’s not me either. I always have a cup or two of coffee.

The Parade article doesn’t go into how we eat. We’re all too aware that we don’t often sit down as a family at dinnertime anymore. Who has the time? As Marie Rudisill, also known as the Fruitcake Lady,  notes in her memoir Ask Me Anything:

“So much has changed since I was growing up or, even later, raising a family, and not necessarily for the better. That probably sounds like an old person’s point of view, but today, young or old, it’s rush, rush, rush. Go to school. Go to the office. Go to band practice or football practice or yoga. Go to the dentist. Cut the lawn. Wash the car. Do the laundry. Study, study, study. Pay bills. Pay attention. Meet that deadline. Work, work, work. And don’t forget to do your homework. Whew! Does that sound like a good way to live to you? Who has time to peel a carrot? Dice an onion? Chop up a melon? I guess no one, since everything now comes in little plastic containers already peeled, diced and chopped.”

Even as family rituals have changed, everyone has a favorite food or oft-visited restaurant. What are yours? They can be a meaningful part of a life or family history.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Coca Cola: Another American Classic.

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Happy 70th, Cheerios!

I grew up eating Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes.  I’d also enjoy a bowl of Cheerios every so often.  My brother wouldn’t eat anything but Cheerios. I guess that made serving breakfast easy for my Mom.

Cheerios is America’s favorite cereal, and it has been for a very long time.  One of every eight boxes of cereal sold in the United States has “Cheerios” on the package.

Cinnamon Nut Cheerios was General Mills’ first attempt in 1976 to extend the brand.  They took it off the shelf one year later.

Honey Nut Cheerios, however, introduced in 1979 was a winner.  Today it is even more popular than the original.

There’s also Frosted Cheerios for kids who won’t anything that isn’t sweet; MultiGrain Cereals for anyone watching their weight; and, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Banana Nut Cheerios for those days when there’s no fresh fruit in the fridge.

Chocolate Cheerios is for those who confuse dessert with the first and most important meal of the day.

All eleven varieties are made from whole-grain oats and touted as a good source of calcium and an excellent source of iron.  Some contain twelve, thirteen, and even fourteen essential vitamins and minerals.

Since 1999 the company has promoted the health benefits of Cheerios.  It states on the box that it was “clinically proven to help lower cholesterol,” a claim with which the Food and Drug Administration has taken issue.  The case is still open.

Back in the good old days before we obsessed over our LDL and HDL levels, Cheerios got our attention by sponsoring The Lone Ranger, a popular radio and then television program.  In one commercial, the Ranger showed his young followers, a boy and a girl, how to used a toy gun that was distributed as a premium.  “Play safe,” he instructed.

Cheerios celebrated its 60th birthday with a salute to the masked man and his faithful friend Tonto by offering a retro lunch box with pictures of the dynamic duo and their horses Silver and Scout FREE when purchasing the special promotional package that included two boxes of the cereal.  Pretty cool.

Today the party is on the Internet. Fans sing their praises on Facebook; followers tweet their tributes on Twitter.   To say “thank you,” General Mills is rewarding supporters with T-shirts and “cereal celebration kits.”   The latter are to be used to host breakfast parties at which devotees tape each other enjoying their cereal.

Everyone’s invited.  The kickoff begins the Fourth of July.  Let’s celebrate an enduring American classic, along with the red, white, and blue.

 

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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During an energy crisis, every little thing helps - US National Archives 1973

Good to know! - US National Archives 1975 (after passing auto emissions inspection)

Or we'll all be sitting in the dark - US National Archives 1973