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Happier With a Hoover . . . or a Lamp


I love old magazines, mostly for the ads. Nothing captures an era quite like its advertising.

Can you see the print on the circular-skirted shirt dress? It’s stylized evergreen trees, chubby angels and doves. The fifties equivalent of a Christmas sweater, perhaps. Did anyone ever wear dresses like it?

In case you can’t read the fine print—and who could?—I’ll quote it for you:

P. S. to husbands:

She cares about her home, you know, so if you really care about her … wouldn’t it be a good idea to consider a Hoover for Christmas? Prices start at $66.95. Model 29 (shown here) $95.95. Low down payment; easy terms. See your Hoover dealer now.

This ad takes me back to our first Christmas in Whitehorse, only a few months after we moved here. We—husband, wife, baby—came with everything we owned in the back of a pick-up truck. We brought no furniture and had no money.

By Christmas, we’d picked up a few used pieces—a couch and chair set, a stand for the T.V., a kitchen table with chairs, a crib, a bed, and a couple of dressers—but the apartment was still bare. My husband bought me a new end table and an expensive lamp for Christmas, and I was happy with my gifts. 

I’d made a few friends, especially one woman who took me under her wings and encouraged me as I learned to live far from family and care for a young baby. She phoned on Christmas to ask what gifts I’d received and I told her. “I wish,” she said, “I could be happy just getting things for the house.” 

At the time, I thought her remark didn’t bother me—at least not much—but thirty years later, it was the first thing I thought of when I read the text for this ad. And I could quote her words exactly. It was intended as a compliment, but it took a tiny piece of my joy.

The end table’s gone, but the lamp is here, right now, on the bedside table, reminding me of a husband who loved me and gave me good gifts. I am still happy with my lamp.

This is a redone post from December 2007.

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Reader Comments (2)

I don't mind getting things for the house, especially something like a lamp. The first Christmas gift I ever received from my husband was a tripod for the first 35mm camera I ever had. I'm still using it.

I love those old pictures.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Shay

What a sweet story Rebecca. It reminds me so much of our humble beginnings too. One year my husband
bought me a weed whacker for our anniversary because I had been trimming our yard with scissors. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

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