A hundred years ago, merely living required a lot more physical activity, and more time outdoors. These two pages from 1911 only start to hint at the range of Sears’ outdoor essentials. Tents range from seriously practical miner’s tents to kid’s toys, plus specialized versions for lawns and parties. There are boats and canoes and camp stoves and cots and ponchos. There’s a Life Preserver modeled by a dapper Edwardian gentleman that I don’t think I’d trust my life to.
But I keep coming back to the “Emigrant Wagon” covers at the inside bottom of the spread. In 1911, Sears is still selling Conestoga wagon components that look like a Hollywood movie, except these are still the real thing. (The wagons themselves were elsewhere in the catalog.) You could put together a complete collection of outdoor gear – wagon, canoe, cot, tent, stove, poncho, etc – then strike out for parts unknown and to hell with civilization. The pioneer life brought to you by Sears. Rough but romantic, even inspiring. And now that I’ve completed another grueling session in front the MacBook, I think I’ll step outside for a bit of fresh air. No, never mind, it’s drizzling outside. I’ll just stay here and surf.