I got to thinking about all the fun I used to have reading the Johnson Smith catalogs when I was a kid. Another similar business was called “The Honor Company.” They advertised in Boys Life and Science and Mechanics. Reading those ads was one of those things you had to experience to understand. Some things are just like that.
Johnson Smith came into being in 1914, but some of the pictures in the old catalogs looked like they came from the 1850s. Great stuff. Scary and awesome. You could order things like “The Big Entertainer” for a quarter (The Big Entertainer was a re-print of an old book filled with jokes, cartoons and odd information like Little Willies Jokes). It looked like it might have originally been published in the 1880s. Lots of old woodcut illustrations.
Joke items abounded; dribble glass, fake ink stain, fake broken mirror, sneezing powder, itching powder, fake black eye, cigarette loads, (Bang).
Incredible concepts like “Build your own tank, build your own Hopalong Cassidy clubhouse etc etc. I ordered the clubhouse, it was printed paper you glued onto a box. But hey, no matter what I ordered I loved it! The anticipation of the arrival of the package was what it was all about.
If kids these days could re-live that I guarantee it would mean the same thing to them it meant to me. Fun, imaginative fun. The anticipation of the impossible dream arriving in the morning mail. It was one of the great enjoyments of my life. I never outgrew the excitement of that thought.
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