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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Shopping in Life, December 14, 1962

Life Magazine, December 14, 1962

For those of you who think online shopping is a break from the important traditions of Christmas, I want to take a little time to remind readers how they might have shopped for their loved ones' Christmas presents fifty-two years ago.

No, your grandparents weren't hoping for the latest smartphone.  They were hoping for the latest Kodak!  And why not?  With "steadiness built in" and a new shape that "gives you a firmer grip for sharp, clear pictures", the Brownie Super 27 Outfit could be bought in toto for less than $22.00.  (That's $172.96 for you and me.)

But wait, there's more, as you might have guessed.  The Brownie Starmite has a built-in flash!  Or what about the Brownie Starmeter with its built-in eexposuremeter?  Or there's that electric eye (an electric eye!  We aren't kidding here, an electric eye!) in the Kodak Automatic 8 movie kit.  This baby sets the lens opening automatically for beautiful movies.  Heck, buy the movie kit and the movie projector for just $118.00.  (Just under $1000.00 in 2014.)  And don't forget, this price includes the lamp bar and lamps.

Now here you'll see that some things never change.  Watches are still a common gift found under the tree.  (I still remember one I opened when I was about twelve.  There is nothing like seeing the sparkle of a new watch on Christmas morning.)  And here we see Bulova, a watchmaker that is still ticking.  I'm partial to the Bulova Beau Brummel, since I'm a man who demands dramatic styling.  Heck, at just $115.00, this timepiece is almost affordable.  Uh, except...that's the 1962 price.  Today that would be $904.13.  A bit steep for me.  I'd have to stick on the lower end of that $24.75 to $2500.00 range.  (Yeah, the high end of that would now be $19,665.00.)  The highest Rolex I can find now is under $10,000.  And Bulova has nothing even close to that.  So it is safe to say watches are a bit more reasonably priced today.  Maybe that's why Bulova thinks wishes were watches.  And they wish they were getting prices equivalent to 1962.

Okay, you knew I'd slip a car in here somewhere.  And let me just be up front.  If any of my family wants to buy me a 1963 Buick LeSabre I would not turn it down.  After all, "for all its sleek beauty, there's a lot of hustle built into the full-size LeSabre."  Hey, I mean, it has Advanced Thrust engineering.  And you know what that means, right?  Uh, it means straight tracking, flat cornering, and precision handling.  Oh, don't forget the trigger-quick response of its famous Turbine Drive--optional but sensationally smooth!.  And who knew that the Safety-X frame construction ends rattles?  (Now that I think about it, I bet my father-in-law knew it did.)  Clearly a gift I'd cherish.

Now, how about something to liven up your Christmas party?  Well, at least something to liven up Jack Carter and his wife Paula Stewart.  According to this add, he's a noted screen and TV comedian, and she's an actress, though I don't guess she's noted.    (Now, I know a lot about old TV--Jack Parr, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Milton Burle, etc--but I've never heard of Jack Carter.  He looks really vaguely familiar, but I'm stretching it here.  Basically, I think Heublin Cocktails paid for cheap talent here.  But then again, I don't remember Heublin, either.  Anyone out there remember Jack or his cheapskate sponser?)

I do know that Jack and his wife and their little party look pretty sad without those cocktails.  And we can guess that they can at least act happy with the cocktails.  At least for the cameras.

I'm tossing in this vintage ad from Bacardi not because I enjoy a little eggnog and rum from time to time.  I'm tossing it in so you can see the creepy elves that were hawking Bacardi rum in 1962.  Let's be honest, elves are weird nearly all the time.  But these little creeps are scary.  I think I saw something like them in a Tales from the Crypt episode.  Don't believe me?  Take a closer look.

I don't know about you, but I'm afraid to find out what this old rummy is mixing into the eggnog.  I think it would be prudent to pass on this holiday beverage.  We'll just smile, nod, hold out a hand in the universal gesture that says "I'm trying to cut back, my belly's getting a bit too big, and you're too creepy to mix my drink.  And Merry Christmas!"

Check back next week for a special appearance by the GE Christmas Guys.  They're not as creepy as the Bacardi elves.  I mean, for starters, they aren't trying to slip strange, possibly lethal concoctions into your Uncle Harry's glass at your family get-together.  Lord knows that's the last thing Uncle Harry needs.  

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