Memories · The Last Half Century

When Wishes Come True

Photo courtesy NASA

What makes childhood dreams? As a kid in the 1960s, for me it was the Sears Wishbook. When this Christmas catalog arrived at our house, my sisters and I would fight over who would get to browse through the pages chock full of toys and other wonders. I dont’ remember exactly what year it was, but I think it was 1971 when I saw something I instantly wanted for Christmas: a space age watch which featured the Apollo space capsule as the hour hand and the Lunar Module as the minute hand.

Like many people at that time, I was obsessed with the recurring Apollo moon landings. I couldn’t watch and read enough about the astronauts landing on the moon. I recall watching many of the launches on our grainy black and white television set.  I can still see the image of the shadowy figure of Neil Armstrong climbing down the ladder of the lunar module and taking the first step on the moon. That lunar watch was the coolest thing I had ever seen in the Wishbook and it was at the top of my Christmas list underlined and circled.

But like so many things in the Wishbook that we put on our Christmas list, I was sure that it was only a wish. We often picked things that were just too expensive. So when Christmas came that year, I was certain it would not be in my stocking. I unwrapped my gifts and just as I expected, there was no lunar module watch — that is until I was given one last gift. When I unwrapped it, I was shocked to see the lunar watch.

I wore that watch everywhere and showed it off to my friends at school. Every hour I had to watch the lunar module minute hand dock with the command module. I felt so cool wearing it. The funny thing is that when you finally get something you want, after while its novelty wears off. To this day I cannot recall what happened to the watch. I can only guess that because I wore it everywhere it finally stopped working and was thrown away.

Just for fun I tried to find a picture of that watch to no avail. I thought you could find everything on the Internet, but not this little gem. I imagine there are a few thousand of them buried in landfills across America. What I did find was a website with decades of scanned copies of Sears Wishbooks dating back to 1937. I searched the Wishbooks from 1969-1972 but did not see the watch. None-the-less, it was a lot of fun to browse the catalog and reminisce about fashions, furniture and other things that were in style at the time — but those thoughts are for another time.

© 2020, CGThelen

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