25 Days of Christmas: Day 19 ~ A Century of American Christmases, Part III (1960-1980)

Christmas in the 1960s

1960 tape recorderA pivotal decade, the 1960s were marked by the Civil Rights movement, the rise of the hippies, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War, and the race to be the first nation to reach the moon. Postwar baby boomers began to transition from teenagers to adults against a background of toys that included Easy Bake Ovens, the Etch-a-Sketch, and GI Joe.

1960s Christmas Budget

Kitchen convenience was offered in style in the 1960s – never mind the refrigerator, check out the lazy Susans and the electric can openers!

  • Lazy Susan – $4.76
  • Electric can opener – $7.77
  • Ladies’ stretch slacks – $3.97
  • Aluminum Christmas tree and stand – $2.99
  • “Your kiddie’s Polaroid picture taken with Santa himself” – $0.49
  • Viewmaster stereo viewer in “rugged, shock-resistant plastic” – $1.75

 Christmas in the 1970s

1970sProtest against the Vietnam War increased as the decade opened; it would close with the capture of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, after seeing the end of the war and the resignation of a president, North America families took to the highways in station wagons, sporting mood rings and playing with Rubik’s Cubes, skate-boards, and Matchbox cars.

1970s Christmas Budget

  • Stereo set with turntable and 8-track player – $199.95
  • AM radio mounted in headphones – $14.95
  • Lava lamp – $45.00
  • “25-function” calculator – $49.95
  • CB radio – $89.95
  • Bionic Man action figure – $6.65
  • Baby Thataway – $8.88
  • Ten-speed bike – $99.50
  • Evel Knievel stunt cycle – $9.95

Christmas in the 1980s

1980sThe beginning of the end for the Cold War marked the close of this decade, as the Berlin Wall fell in Germany. Here at home, the drive toward space continued with the first reusable space vehicle, the Space Shuttle, in 1981. Computers arrived in homes and schools, while video games such as Nintendo and Pac Man gained huge followings. Shoppers flocked to stores in search of Cabbage Patch Dolls, while other hot toys included Trivial Pursuit and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

1980s Christmas Budget

  • Microwave oven – $227.00
  • Videocassette recorder (1980) – $1,395
  • Videocassette recorder (1989) – $299
  • Garfield telephone – $44.70
  • Space Invaders video game cassette – $24.88
  • Care Bear – $13.99
  • Castle Greyskull, from Masters of the Universe Collection – $23.99
  • Lazer tag game kit – $29.99
  • Rambo Rocket water launcher – $14.96

(Jeffrey, Yvonne; The Everything Family Christmas Book)



A thing called “MeTV”

MeTV = Memorable Entertainment

As I spend countless hours tossing and turning in bed each night (Ms. Insomnia instead of Mr. Sandman has been my bed mate for quite a while now, however that is an entirely different post); many months ago I was scanning the boob-tube searching for something that would offer “white” noise and hopefully…sleep inducing .  Even with the 500+ channels to choose from, my television watching is mostly contained to the big four, NBC, ABC, CBS, and TNT.  I occasionally meander over to the Hallmark and Lifetime channels to see what movies are slated for the weekend and should one or two pique my interest, I’ll set the digital recorder for viewing at a later time.

So, on one of my channel surfing excursions, I found myself wandering in the 180 channel range and before my eyes I saw in the program guide “Family Affair”.  Quickly I hit the info button to see if it was indeed the “Family Affair” from my childhood that immediately flashed in my mind.  I was pleasantly surprised when my secret hopes were confirmed. (I always had a crush on Brian Keith.)

Some of the characters who provided much entertainment and enjoyment in my youth….and 40-some years later are displayed blow.  They are still entertaining my sleepless nights/mornings.

How many do you remember?

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A Childhood Memory

There are a few shows that have yet to resurface on MeTV; however, I am hopeful they will cycle through at some point in time since the Fall lineup of shows is a little different from what was aired earlier this year in the Spring.

Herman Munster

One show in particular that I would love, love, love to see return would be The Munsters.  Herman, his childlike antics and his laugh were so genuinely funny; he was a kid at heart.

As a kid, something that always struck me as odd were the “other characters” (actually the story line) on the show.  The story line characters thought the Munster family was a little “off“, but really never commented that they were an off-shoot of “freaks”, especially for the 1960’s.

Marilyn, far right

Then you had the niece Marilyn who was perfectly “normal” in comparison to the rest of the family.

Not that it really made any sense to me then, but their address of 1313 Mockingbird Lane fit them perfectly.


And then there was Grandpa…well let’s just say Grandpa could have carried the show practically on his own with all of his crazy shenanigans.

Uncle Fester

Now that I think about it, Grandpa from The Munsters and Uncle Fester from The Addams Family were each other’s counterparts, just in different shows.

Entertaining “Me” with MeTV

So, on my long nights when sleep eludes this body yet again, I am ever so grateful for the technology of digital recording and MeTV.  Not only do the shows occupy my nocturnal hours, they also let me revisit a time in my childhood where there were no cares in my world (oh yeah…and I got to watch groovy shows like these).

The Progression of Childhood Aging

Not the beginning, but not far from it.

Life’s Adventures Author (uncertain of age)

I have other photos of an even younger me, however my scanner crapped out and so here I am, only able to post with but a few of the photos I initially planned on using.  Oh well, such is life and we move on.

Today has been a nostalgic day for me.  The date does not mark anything particular, other than it being a Sunday in August when I was recalling milestones in my life and thinking about some of the people whose paths have crossed with mine over the last four and a half decades.  Some of the ones I have fond memories of were friends from junior high; and they are first and foremost Karla Y, Sherri L, Kim F. and Amber M. (I’ve listed their maiden name initial).  There are also those girlfriends from my adulthood, who are: Sandy, Tammy, Denise, Paige, Sam, Judy and a few ladies who were involved in the Boy Scouts with our family (Barb Z, Maria B, and Robin).

So with all this reminiscing going on today, I pulled out the box of photos my sister gave me over a year ago from our mother’s belongings and saw there were a lot from my childhood.  While looking at each one it was rather apparent that my features changed quite a bit from one year to the next.Since the picture of me (above) in the blue dress is the earliest one I was able to scan, we’ll start with it.

I have always adored that photo.  I know…I know…quirky smile of sorts, but the look in those eyes, a soft gaze…is it a look of adoration?  Was I on the brink of a really big pretty smile, and the photographer snapped this one a split-second too soon?  Was the photographer talking to me?  What was I thinking?  I guess we’ll never know.

I’m boyish looking and missing a tooth!

The Oldest Four Children (of an eventual five)

WOW…what a change in that little girl in the pink dress.  Per mom’s writing on the back of the picture, the moment in time was captured in February 1970, the month I turned four.  I remember this photograph being taken.  Believe it or not, the photographer actually came to our home, set up his lights, backdrop and camera in our living room and when he was ready, we were seated for the photo.  I remember it just about being an all day event, first we had to help mom move the furniture against the walls, then it was time for everyone’s bath and finally….dressing for our photo.  If memory serves me, we lived in Dayton, OH the year this was taken.

Okay I’ll be the first to admit, my brothers Rick and Tony and sister Missy were all cute as a button in this picture.  My question is…what the hell happened to me? I went from that cute little girl in the blue dress, to a tom-boyish girl in a pink “itchy” polyester dress (yes, I remember it being itchy).

You can tell the photographer was talking to Missy during this shot.  She’s playing with her hands and our oldest brother Rick is looking down at her.  Tony and I….looking straight ahead and smiling.

Why did I elect to show teeth (less one) in this picture?  Why didn’t I just smile like I did in the one with the blue dress?  UGH!  No matter how boyish I feel I looked in the photograph, I know mom would have told me I was a beautiful little girl and she would have it no other way.

Mother, is “The Joker” my real father?

Holy Hell Batman???

This photo was taken the following year.  All I can say is O.M.G…I look like I could be in the running for the “THE JOKER’s daughter” from Batman!!!  SERIOUSLY, What the hell is wrong with my flippin mouth; AND look at those big puffy cheeks?  YIKES!!!

Go ahead, I give you permission to laugh your hind-quarters off, just don’t wet yourself. I know you’re not laughing at me…you’re laughing with (yeah, yeah…we know).  Gawd knows I’m cracking myself up just looking at this photo!



Now I know why I currently have bags under my eyes that I cannot make go away!  I was plagued with them a the ripe old age of SIX!  Are you kidding me, really…6?

I am slowly starting to understand some things that have always bugged me about myself.  For starters, I never like my mouth and always felt it was too big for my face (refer to joker lips in the photo above for proof).

Secondly, I currently have hazel eyes, and on and off during my teenage years sometimes they would be hazel and other days blue.  I was told my eyes were blue from day one…ah, not in this picture.  I’m not going to say they are brown in the picture to the left, but they aint “blue”( Note to my dear…dear mother:  Mom, you could have applied cucumbers to those sad baggy eyes of mine.  Ya know, given me a head start in that particular “woman’s war against her own body” that every woman engages in sometime in her life.  Love ya mom.)

Yay, a teenager at last

Late 1970’s

I guess in the end I didn’t turn out too bad (or ugly).  Over time I grew into my mouth.  I thought I was tall, but realized I am just average height (5′ 6″).  Just a pretty normal, average 15 year old girl.This picture (right) was an impromptu shot.  My two brothers and sister from the photos above are shown here.  Not sure where our youngest sister Melody was and why she was not in the shot, but I promise you…she does exist.

Tony is on the far left in the brown shirt, Rick is on the far right (yellow shirt), Missy is in the front row between mom and dad, and I am in the orange “Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s” t-shirt.  The other people in the shot were future spouses (except for Tony’s girlfriend who is standing next to him).

And finally

July 2012: candid shot, no makeup

June 2012: headshot for work