Give Him a Collection of Cliches for Christmas! Tie bars…cufflinks…pen sets…ties…belts: all the used-to-be-cliches from decades of fatherhood gift-giving, before the onset of electronic gadgetry. Men were so limited in their gift options in the 50s. And yet look how impressed the young husbands are! Look at how thrilled the young wives are! Apparently, dramatic cufflinks (literally dramatic, with Greek masks of comedy and tragedy) are the way to bring a couple extremely close and intimate. Just look how close they are! It recalls the old Groucho Marx quip “If I was any closer, I'd be in back of you.” Oh, wait – in one picture she actually is. Few males have a need for ties or cufflinks in our casual age, and so we turn to the best (or worst) male-gift page of all — pajamas. These flannel monstrosities seem guaranteed to stop any closeness or intimacy dead in its tracks. The dads (for they must now be fathers) look positively horrified. Those frozen smiles merely feign delight, but really mask the fear that their wives and children have conspired (via bad fashion choices) never return to those romantic Christmases of yesteryear, back when it was just the two of them, alone with a monogrammed belt. Or is it possible that ugly Christmas PJs were a thing long before ugly Christmas sweaters? Next time, we'll look at what Dad has done to decorate the home for the holidays.
We're celebrating all the abundance and excitement found in vintage 20th century American catalogs: the exotic, the fashionable, the surprising, the latest, the coolest, the cheapest, the oddest, the choices.
Not just Sears and Montgomery Wards, You could buy anything from a catalog in the 20th century: from a box of raisins to a house, from a computer to a car, from a billy club to an inflatable brassiere. The old-time printed catalogues which arrived in the mailbox showed the 20th-century American Consumer just how to consume.