The Sears Catalog – the stuff of dreams

Another title that makes no sense, eh? Not really. It makes perfect sense for a few little boys whose parents didn’t “keep up with the Jones”. We spent HOURS going through the Sears catalog every year circling, re-circling and dreaming. For us, the Sears catalog signified the coming of Christmas. It was always that time of year when we started looking at the newest toys and making lists of everything we wanted.

The Sears catalog also became inspiration for playtime. There were many times (I would hazard a guess that more times than not), where we didn’t get anything out of the “catalog” that we asked for. I think the problem was that when we gave mom and dad the page numbers, somehow they transposed numbers or something. We did often get things out of the catalog, but it was stuff that nobody ever REALLY wants. You know! The socks, underwear, bedsheets, tapestries, etc. (I wasn’t so nerdy cool back then or I’d have KILLED to have a tapestry, just so I could say “This is a castle and we have many tapestries. But if you are Scottish lord,THAN I AM MICKEY MOUSE!!!”) But alas! No tapestries. No ThunderCats toys. And especially NO Voltron lions!

The gift of imagination

We may not have gotten all that we wanted out of the Sears catalog, but we got something cooler out of it. (No, not toilet paper…) I’m talking about IDEAS! That single catalog became the textbook for our inventions. We always had hot wheels cars, Lincoln logs and of course LEGOS! The things our parents didn’t buy us, we learned how to build out of our Lincoln logs or Legos. Our builds may not have been the envy of all of the other kids, but they were some of the happiest things in our childhood.


By looking through the catalog we were able to design all sorts of toys on our own. When we watched Voltron, we used to then building our own “lions” with moving heads, legs and even tails. Inside the “lion” we also made all of our own controls etc for the operator. All of this was made from Legos. The lair? That’s where the Lincoln Logs were used!

We once went to the fair and someone got us matching John Deere mowers. That’s it, it was just the riding mower–nothing else. So, we designed and built snow blades, trailers and even mowing decks out of our Legos and mowed the carpet. I always loved big trucks, so I took the wheels/tires from fire trucks, moon rovers etc to build pickups. All of my pickups had dual wheel that I made using Lego lights and turning front wheels. (None of our Lego sets actually had turning wheels, so I made a mechanism that I could use to steer)

Products of our minds:

When we tired of Lego builds–or reached the end of the capabilities of our sets–we pulled out the Hot Wheels. Mom and dad had these throw rugs that honestly were quite hideous. Some sort of Native American knock of or something. These rugs had squares and such. Those squares and lines became parking lots, roads, foundations of houses (the houses made from Lincoln Logs), etc. Again, HOURS of fun!

Something Lost

I think this is what was so great about our childhood. Within one’s mind the possibilities are endless. Kids of today have their smart phones, tablets and portable game systems. These things, though do not allow them to exercise their imagination. How often have you read a book and the picture in your head looks nothing like what you eventually see on the screen? This is what is so good about the human brain! It allows us to go to far-off worlds, remote locations here on Earth or just about anywhere we want to go.

I think it’s great to want to get everything our kids want, but sometimes they will learn more or have more fun with those things they didn’t want. How many times have we all spent more money and time than we have to get our kids something nice only to have them play with the box instead? This happens because of their imagination. We all want to dream of something bigger and better–sometimes that can be more fun than actually having something.

Just have fun!

I didn’t intend for this post to become a lesson or dissertation on the ills of the world. The point I wanted to make is that those times, toys and experiences that I remember and cherish the most weren’t necessarily what I wanted at the time. I always wanted to have what Jim had. I never did and I’m happy I didn’t. The memories I hold most dear are those times Mike and I spent an hour “engineering” our own fun.

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