By Tom Morrow
A kid’s wish-list for Santa these days would have been unimaginable for us kids of 50 or 60 years ago. The digital age has completely revolutionized Christmas for kids of all ages.
Back in the dark ages of the 1940s and ’50s, the only thing you could expect on Christmas morning that consumed electricity was a toy train or, if you were really lucky, a radio. Toys used batteries back in the olden days, but they were the big “D” types and they didn’t last very long. For the most part, toys were pretty mundane compared to the whiz-bang goodies of today.
A video game wasn’t even thought of in those gloomy days following World War II. The word “Video” was only known to those who owned a TV set, which were few and far between, and, if you did have a TV set, you knew about “Captain Video,” the space hero at 4 p.m. weekdays — if you could get a clear picture. In the first place, there weren’t many television sets. If there were video games, they would have been in black and white, because color TV was pretty much a dream.
The one thing I really wanted on Christmas morning was a Red Ryder lever-action air rifle (BB gun), but Mom said I’d “shoot my eye out,” so forget it. Guns of any kind were something our family never possessed. One year I finally did get the five-foot sled I had wanted, but by the time it slid under the tree, I had grown to nearly six feet tall, so that sort of took the edge off. To make matters worse, that year wasn’t a white Christmas. It was the middle of February before I could use the sled.
The next year I received a pair of clamp-on roller skates. It was a very snowy and cold Christmas. Ever try to roller-skate with metal wheels on icy sidewalks?
The year I received my electric train was pretty good. Well, sort of. It looked nothing like the real thing instead of the American Flyer I really wanted. That top-of-the-line job cost a whopping $49.95, which was a key factor. Santa only had $18.95.
The Philco desktop radio was the best of my childhood Christmas gifts. It allowed me to leave that cold, dreary Iowa prairie and explore the yonder airwaves. During the day I’d listen intently to the hog and grain futures from WMT in Cedar Rapids. I didn’t understand a word of the market reports, but, hey, it was nearly 200 miles away from a big city (in those days about the size of Carlsbad).
At night, I traveled to far off places like Chicago or all the way south to WWL radio in ol’ New Orleans for Dixieland jazz or, the dance music of Leon Kelner and his orchestra from high atop the Roosevelt Hotel.
Yep, that old tube radio was the best of my childhood Christmas gifts because it gave me my first glimpse of the world beyond dreary southern Iowa.
MAN-WOMAN TRUISMS — If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman.
EATING OUT — When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it’s only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.
MONEY — A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need but it’s on sale.