Oh, the things I remember growing up!

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Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash

Do you remember getting the JC Penny or Sears catalog in the mail?

If you don’t then this post will be obsolete.

The catalogs were big enough to stack on the chair at the dining table so a younger sibling who wasn’t tall enough to reach the table but too old to sit in a high chair could reach the table.

These catalogs were my reading material. They contained my dreams of a future life. I was twelve years old.

I would take the catalog and cut out pictures of furniture and appliances and arrange them in every room of my future dream house.

The Christmas catalogs were the thickest. My brothers and I would fight over who could look at the catalog and for how long. There were time limits for all three of us older children.

When it was my turn I would flip carefully through the pages taking notes on the toys that I wanted for Christmas. I knew that out of the fifteen on my list, I would be lucky to get one.

My parents didn’t have the money to buy a lot of gifts. My brothers received sports equipment and I might receive a doll. I didn’t care if I got the gifts I asked for. I got joy out of flipping through the pages. It introduced me to a world beyond my reach.

Wood furniture carved with designs, bedspreads with patchwork that covered the entire width of a king-sized bed, towels for the bathroom, pots and pans, crystal glasses used for drinking wine, platters for serving turkey and ham, and delicate china that would have not survived in my home of four boys and only one girl. We drank out of plastic cups because they wouldn’t break if dropped on the floor. We ate with cheap silverware and CorningWare dishes. Tupperware was common.

I spent hours in dreamland and planning.

I went to college, to Mexico, and ended up in Japan with my Japanese husband.

The house was small and we were just beginning our life. His parents gave us some furniture as a wedding gift.  The house didn’t need much furniture because there was no space. We had what we needed and nothing more. None of my furniture matched what was in the Sears catalog.

We sat on the floor and had a small sofa that fit in our “living room”, a small kitchen table with two chairs, and just enough tableware for seven people. It is bad luck to buy in even numbers. There was a crib for our daughter who slept in the same room as us. We bought a double bed that took up the entire bedroom. I couldn’t sleep on the floor when I was pregnant because I couldn’t get up without rolling over on my side first. It was not an easy task.

We lived in Japan for five years and then moved to Michigan.

In Michigan, we lived in a company rented house. We had no furniture. Now, was my chance to invest in some real furniture. There was no Sears catalog to flip through. We shopped at the local furniture stores and bought a king-sized bed for us and a double bed for our five-year-old daughter, a sofa, and a recliner. We didn’t buy too much because we weren’t sure how long the company would keep us there. The dining room furniture belonged to the owner. We didn’t buy a hutch because my husband thought they were useless. We didn’t have any expensive china to display.

We ate most of our food with chopsticks. We had silverware but nothing expensive. The most expensive items in the kitchen were knives. We always had the best knives and they were always sharp. Japanese cooking requires a lot of slicing, dicing, and chopping.

We moved three times to Michigan and took our stuff with us. We lived in Michigan for twenty-seven years and always had the same furniture.

We then moved to Arizona because of my new position at ASU. My husband was living with lung cancer and came to Arizona to receive treatment at the Mayo clinic. We didn’t want to bring our old furniture with us so we had movers come and put everything in the front yard.

We sold and gave away our furniture, books, kitchen utensils, and garden tools. Sumio had a collection of cast iron pots he cherished. We sold them to a man for a very cheap price. We were sad. We brought our dining room table with us because it was made by the Amish and my husband didn’t want to give it up. We drove a small Uhaul to Arizona with our clothing, and photo albums.

Everything was in storage for almost two years. We bought a new house and went shopping for furniture again. This time my husband told me that I could buy what I wanted because we knew that he only had about a year to live. It was sad. He enjoyed picking out new furniture.

We moved into the house and six months later he passed.

I have the same furniture, plates, and utensils. Not much has changed.

Now, instead of flipping through catalogs, I scroll the  Amazon page.

I purchased a Ninja air dryer because it is summer and the temperatures get up into the 100s in Phoenix. I don’t like to heat up the kitchen so I thought an air dryer would do the trick.

It arrived two days ago and it is like a new toy. I want to cook everything in it.

I might not have a Sears catalog, but now I have Amazon



From Sears Catalog to Amazon Shopping


I am a retired ESL teacher. I have a dog that owns me. I travel to learn about a culture. I want to share my stories with you. Come along with me!

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1 year ago

Carol, I love your story and especially this unique perspective of your life! Thanks for bringing a smile to my day, Sally

Joni Weaver
Joni Weaver
1 year ago

Good to read your story!! I miss seeing you!! our coffee get togethers and parties at your house!! joni

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