Remembering Judy Garland on Her Birthday

The wonderful Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm 101 years ago today in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. From that humble beginning, she went on to an amazing career that few others have matched.

A friend once asked us, “Why is it that you’re so fond of Judy Garland, but you’re not so crazy about Barbra Streisand?” That was an easy one for us: With Ms. Streisand (with all due respect), it’s all about her pipes. With Ms. Garland, it’s all about her heart.

We’ll be featuring Garland’s music all today on Cladrite Radio. Why not tune in now?

Judy Garland quote

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

There’s a woman who serves as just the slightest irritant every day during our morning commute by trying to foist upon the new edition of one of those 10- or 12-page free daily newspapers—AM New York or the like—as we make our way through the Fulton Street subway station in lower Manhattan.

We don’t kid ourselves that our face is particularly memorable—dozens of women over the years have easily wiped it from their memories—but wouldn’t you think she’d eventually begin to recognize our hats? After all, among the many people who pass her every day, how many are wearing fedoras? Very few, we would think.

We consistently decline the proffered paper, but every morning, she throws her arm out in front of us, folded fishwrap in hand, like a human turnstile that we must make our way past.

Read All About It: A newsboy holds a folded paper aloft as he hawks his wares.

But today, she won us over, if only temporarily. we still didn’t take a paper, but we smiled as we ran her one-woman gauntlet because she’d changed her newsie’s rap. We don’t know if perhaps she’d watched an old movie on TCM last night or what, but this morning, her barker’s pitch went like this:

“Renovate Penn Station! Renovate Penn Station! Read all about it!”

Read all about it! It’s the first time in our life we’ve actually heard someone call out that oh-so-familiar phrase as they hawked newspapers! The only thing missing was an “Extra! Extra!” or two, but that’s nitpicking.

It made our morning, we don’t mind telling you, and we won’t be the least bit surprised if the warm glow we’re experiencing doesn’t last well into the afternoon.

(Retro)active Browsing: Vintage Christmas Catalogues

1933 Spiegel Christmas cataloguesAnyone who spends time browsing antique fairs, flea markets, and eBay knows that vintage retail catalogues are in demand and command a pretty penny, but no catalogues are more coveted than vintage Christmas catalogues.

As we’ve said here before, there’s something about Christmas that fosters a wistful nostalgia more potent than any other holiday, and it’s the pull of Christmases past, we’re convinced, that keeps these old mail-order catalogues in such demand.

1946 Sears and Roebuck Christmas cataloguesIf you find you can’t swing the price of one of these treasured commercial publications, don’t despair. We’ve found a site that will fill in ably while you’re saving your pennies. boasts scans of complete Christmas catalogues dating all the way back to 1933 (and up to 1988). The majority of the catalogues featured are from Sears, but there are other delights to be enjoyed, too, including a 1941 Lord and Taylor catalogue and a Spiegel catalogue from 1933.

And this site doesn’t just offer selected highlights from these forty-plus catalogues; they’ve scanned and posted each in its entirety.

a page from a 1937 Christmas catalogueSo if you’ve ever wondered what kind of holiday toys might have enticed your parents, your grandparents or, heck, even your great-grandparents when they were whippersnappers, you need wonder no more.

And of course, Christmas catalogues don’t limit themselves to toys—these publications are terrific resources for researching and tracking the changes and advances in clothing, furniture, electronics, housewares, and so much more.

And if you find yourself wondering, while perusing these catalogues, “What would that gorgeous console radio that cost $52 in 1937 run me today?”, just call up the Inflation Calculator, which compares and contrasts prices from as far back as 1800 all the way up to 2014. (To answer our own question: $52 in 1937 was the equivalent of $846.21 in 2014.)

This post was first published, in slightly different form, on December 21, 2011.