Whatever Happened to the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog?

Ah, how I miss that Sears & Roebuck Winter catalog when November rolls around! It was the one time of year if I just happened to show my mom a doll I really liked, or the black shiny shoes with the neat silver bow attached, then I might, just might, find it in one of the Christmas packages I opened. Wonderful toys and dresses filled page after page in that thick book. Each tissue-thin leaf jam-packed with photos of everything a family could want.

Well, almost everything…There was no book section. Oh, there were so many good books on shelves in book stores and libraries. Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Girl of the Limberlost – the choices were endless. But none could I order from the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

And so, I am set to wondering if those really were the good ol’ days when we waited each day for the mailman to finally deliver our mail order ‘shopping cart’.  Have you ordered anything recently from a shopping cart? Of course you have if you own one of the sleek modern black catalogs called computers, or its miniature version known as an ipad or tablet. Or even more convenient, the smartphone that goes everywhere with you, has automatic wi-fi. A compact little device that stores more information, including choices of dolls and toys, AND books than the average person could explore in his or her lifetime.

Perhaps the most obvious difference between today’s mail-order shopping cart and the leafy Sears catalog would be the time element for delivery. Next-day delivery is almost the norm. It took days for the little brown envelope complete with check and the hand-written items to reach Sears in Chicago, more time to hand-sort and package the items and then for the parcel to reach the same mailbox where the little brown envelope began its journey.

And so it’s November once again. Shopping season for those special people, including the ‘one who has everything’. Well, if you have a senior citizen friend or relative who may have grown up on a farm, I’d like to suggest my recent book called Ira’s Farm. And I have a very real reason for suggesting it. Since I published it in April 2018, I have given a number of presentations to groups of retirees and groups living in senior independent villages. The responses I receive are so heartening to me. I hear comments like “the memories brought tears to my eyes”, “I had a good laugh as I remembered the same events happening on our farm”. I really believe that the joy many received as they relived good memories brought a kind of healing to them and lifted their spirits with joy amid the problems many were facing. Smiles and precious memories keep hearts young.

I will always write a personal note when I sign a book. I keep copies on hand to fill orders for autographed copies. In other sections of my blog page, there are descriptions about “Ira’s Farm” and I am always available to answer questions through email, blog or IM on facebook.

May your holidays be filled with joy and “laugh out loud” moments. Hold tight to the wonderful gift of family that you have been given.  Sincerely, Ginny



My Story

Each of us have a story to tell. We tell them around campfires, to our grandkids at bedtime, over coffee with a good friend. And some of us compile memories line by line, page after page until a book is born. In March of 2018, some eight months ago, I gingerly opened a box from IngramSpark Publishing and caught my first glimpse of “Ira’s Farm” with those vibrant-red polished apples shining on the cover and the author identified as Virginia Johnson. At 87 years old, I had “told” my story.

It no longer belonged to just myself or my grandkids – it was on Amazon and local bookstores for anyone to pick up and read. And form opinions. And express them!

I will try to be honest about the responses I have gotten about these 1930’s farming years, but the positive comments have been almost overwhelming to me and it’s difficult to be nonchalant about them! Thank you, kind readers, for your feedback. It is fine compensation for those days and days of sitting at the computer and the nights I would wake up with a new word or sentence I needed to include on the pages I had just finished.

Overall, it has been a grand experience and I recommend it to each of you.

But what is next?

You can buy my book, Ira’s Farm: Growing Up on a Self-Sustaining Farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s on Amazon.

Ira’s Farm: Growing Up on a Self-Sustaining Farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s

By Virginia Johnson

A WWI veteran with a young family, Ira bought a sixty-acre farm in the rural community of Harlan Michigan just ninety days before the October 1929 stock market crash and its ensuing financial crisis.

He fashioned a living with a team of horses and a never-give-up work ethic on land his wife often called “sand banks” when a harvest failed. This memoir covers a thirty-year span of farming through the eyes of Ira’s daughter who went from a bare-footed carefree girl to a “hired hand” when her older brother joined the Navy in 1942. She drove horses, hauled hay, picked up stones, bagged milkweed pods and a myriad of other tasks. For senior citizens it may bring back childhood memories. Young readers will perhaps experience a tinge of fantasy or a scene from TV’s Walton family. An easy read about rural farm life in the thirties and forties.

You can buy my book, Ira’s Farm: Growing Up on a Self-Sustaining Farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s on Amazon.