Generation XX

Generation XX: The Sears Wish Book

Every year around my birthday (which is in late November), JC Penny and Sears would mail out their giant catalogs of Christmas goodness.  These catalogs were the catalyst for all sorts of middle class sugar plum dreams, and when I found a CC licensed Flickr group of old images, I knew there would be posting gold inside.

Generation XX

I was not disappointed.  Make your afternoon coffee and settle in for a trip down memory lane with all the best toys, electronics, home decor and fashions from 1980-1988 or so, by way of the following Flickr groups:  Sears 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988; Montgomery Ward 1984.

Barbie was living large in 1980.  This dream house was huge.  I only knew one girl who had one, and it was something to behold.

Barbie had nothing on this plastic family, however.  I remember seeing this and drooling all over it as a nine year old.  My mom laughed and said my dolls would get snooty living in a house that big.  I was willing to risk it.

Barbie was not above reflecting the times.  In 1980, she had a nice backyard pool, complete with crappy grass and a hibatchi.

In 1988 Barbie had upgraded to the Greed is Good model, in pink and baby blue.

We talked a bit about these sweet early 80’s electronics last week in this slot, here are some more pictures of the wonders that still didn’t help me learn to spell or do math.

I have no recollection of this system at all, which makes me think it wasn’t as revolutionary as the ad copy makes it out to be.

I still kind of love 8-bit graphics.

These Commodore computers had 64k and 128k of memory, respectively.  Each of the image files in this post is over 100k.   It cost $700 for a computer that couldn’t even save a 30 page text document in 1985.

This is why most of us Gen Xers do not have videos of our childhoods.

The original snuggie.  It had snaps on the top corners to make sleeve-type openings and a drawstring at the bottom so you could tie your cousin to the couch leg at grandma’s house.  Hypothetically.

There are still rooms like this in the midwest.  I’ve seen them.

And she’s not even Scottish!

A man in tight white pants is almost always a douchebag.

I belonged to an organization for young women that required a lot of formal attire in the 80’s.  There really is no excuse for that super shiny metallic polyester crap, with or without rosettes.

These girls are totally judging your outfit, all the way from 1988.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

5 replies on “Generation XX: The Sears Wish Book”


That’s Lundby! I had a Lundby dollhouse growing up and it was awesome. Beyond awesome. I used to get sets for it for Christmas. Then they stopped manufacturing Lundby doll things period when I was eight and if I want anything more for my dollhouse I have to shell out on eBay.

The highlight of my college years remains discovering the dinky Pennsylvania toy store that miraculously carried Lundby furniture, Peck-Gandre paper dolls, Transformers, and even early-60s-era Barbie clothes.

We never got the Wish Book, but I loved looking through Best and Bell catalogs. They were discount department stores and always sold Barbie stuff for a dollar less. It was limited inventory, but good for our frugal immigrant pockets.

In high school I spent hours reading the old Wish Books from “the olden days”. Mostly I enjoyed looking at women’s fashions–oh those girdles and bustles!–, jewelry, and kitchen appliances. Most surprising item? Cars. Yup, simple model Fords. During the “greed is good” days nobody publicly admitted to shopping at Sears in my prep school. Yeah, my generation acted pretty douchey about brands and labels.

I loved the Wish Book! My family was lucky enough to have a video camera, and there still exists footage of my softball games, and the skits my friend and I used to put on. We would either improv, or we would buy a Weekly World News and act out stories. Footage also exists of when I won our towns first annual frog jumping contest.

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