Bob-n-Along: Christmas gifts today just don't seem as personal as those in the 1950's

By Bob Stealey | December 24, 2016
The customs of Christmas shopping sure have changed over the years, haven't they? When I was just
a young'un in my grade school and junior high school years, I took my Christmas shopping that I did in
Clarksburg quite seriously.
When I say this, I suppose what I'm attempting to convey is that back in those days I'd have formulated
a list of as many as 15 to 20 relatives to buy for, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, I wasn't
driving a motor vehicle anyplace back in the late 1950s.
Yep, I'd wait until my mom or dad was heading into downtown Clarksburg from Stealey, where we lived,
or, in the earlier years of the '50s, I'd wait 'til they'd hop on a Norwood-Stealey bus--these were operated
by City Lines of Clarksburg--and accompany them, in an effort to catch up on my shopping.
Let's see: For Christmas, I'd have my parents, my brother and two sisters to shop for. Another brother
would come along in late 1959. Also, my granddad, my grandma, my three aunts, my uncle and aunt,
and a couple of cousins to buy for, I could say I had made progress toward completing my shopping for
that particular season in "the big C city" of Clarksburg.
Things are so-o-o much different now in 2016 in Clarksburg. So much different! It seems that the luster
of it all has disappeared, but then again, I'm quite a few years older than in those more exciting, more
youthful years.
Nowadays, most of the shopping for the family is handled by my wife, Nadine, who has a keener sense
of Christmas shopping than do I. Probably the greatest difference in Christmas shopping is in our choice
of gifts--even the type of shopping we practice.
Back in the day, we would all buy gifts that we would wrap. After making our purchases, we'd really look
forward to taking home each item we'd bought and wrapping it. Since that's one technique that I've never
excelled at--wrapping Christmas presents--it was somewhat of a hilarious "adventure" at our house. And
since it was so hilarious, I do believe I'll decline to mention the "fun" we experienced while doing it.
Yet today, since our practice of shopping is so different from an earlier age, often the extent of wrapping
a gift was limited to an envelope, mainly because we've chosen to give them U.S. currency rather than
a larger item or items requiring a box that I've now learned to let somebody else utilize her wrapping
expertise. Well, I don't know about you, but this different method of shopping for our loved ones really pales in comparison with how we used to do it. That is, it seems so much more impersonal--even more uninteresting.
Really and truly, I don't think the kids and their tastes are so much different from back in those days.
A little earlier, I'd mentioned the '50s and '60s. In downtown Clarksburg at that time, you had the "five-and-ten-cent stores," including Woolworth's, Grant's, Murphy's and McCrory's. There were plenty of other businesses, too, like the clothing stores:  Parsons-Souders, Watts-Sartor-Lear, Sears-Roebuck, Broidas and others.
Can you remember going from store to store to find those specific toys for the kids that we just know
Santa won't have enough room for on his sled, so it's left up to us to fill in the gaps where all those little
details are concerned?
Maybe even at stores in and around Clarksburg you recall the Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo, Thomas the Train and a few others that were all the rage with the younger set--not all that many years ago. When I was a lot younger, I was really happy to receive a catcher's mitt, all wrapped up and almost ready to take outside and start up a mid-winter baseball game. In addition, I loved those bright yellow Tonka trucks that we'd show off in the sandbox or the dirt pile.
Nope, there were no computers around in the '50s or even the '60s. No Smart Phones. Those would become popular quite a few years in the future. Probably the closest thing to video toys were the View-Finders in which we'd slide in a cardboard disc with photos around the circumference. Just point the View-Finder toward a light source and you'd have maybe six or seven pictures to see per disc. These were quite neat at one time. Today, they'd be left in the dust by the more technologically advanced playthings.
There was also a time in Clarksburg when record players were fairly popular. In the years before pop music caught our ears, we had those larger-diameter 78-rpm records that featured stories and songs for the kiddies. We'd be more than happy to open these as gifts on Christmas morning. Story books were also a hit with the little ones, because if we were too young to read, we'd employ the services of one of our parents or another adult who might be handy.
To me, building sets were a favorite. I really did like Lincoln Logs, American Bricks, Skyline, Tinker-Toys and Erector Sets, to name just a few. They just don't seem to make those anymore--not that I've noticed, anyway.
So there's just a little bit of a run-down of gift-giving. For those searching for wrappable presents to give,
I suppose you'd be fairly safe in shopping at the local computer stores. 'Just a case of using the good ol'
imagination, I suppose.
Ah well, if all else fails, I guess there's always a lot of fun in reminiscing!
- - -
Here's to WVU Mountaineers head basketball coach Bob Huggins on claiming his 800th victory. He's only
the tenth Division 1 coach to reach that pinnacle and only the third active coach to do so.
This very special accomplishment came on Saturday afternoon, December 17, against University of
Missouri-Kansas City. Our proud congratulations to Huggy on his milestone triumph and, of course, to
the team members for helping to make it a reality for their mentor.
Beginning next Friday, December 30, the Mountaineers will be getting into their Big 12 campaign for
the 2016-17 season, so let's be sure to support 'em, Mountaineer fans.
- - -
Today's Bible Verses:  "That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their
flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the
glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said.
'I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah,
the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem!'"--Luke 2:8-11

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