Friday, November 22, 2019

Christmas 1960s.


The 1960’s were the decade of the aluminum Christmas Tree. This is something I distinctly remember. We did not have one, but there was one in the window of a home we passed going into town. At night it was hard to miss its changing colors as the color wheel on the light slowly revolved changing the colors of the tree.

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Believe it or not there were more than a million of these tin foil trees sold in the 1960s. As popular as they were during that decade it was a fading fad. The ‘Colortone’ Electric Roto-Wheel provided the special effects for the tree, changing its color from red to green to blue to gold. With the colors reflecting off the aluminum branches, there was no need to string lights on the tree.
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To add to the effect, solid colored glass balls (in one color) would be hung from the branches giving the tree a clean fresh look not complicated by the various ornaments, toys, tinsel, and lights one would find on a traditional tree.

THF125145But, not everyone wanted a tree reminiscent of one you would find in George Jetson’s den. A majority of homes still had live green trees, Scotch pine being the most popular. Now that glass ornaments (albeit few hand blown) were mass produced in the USA, they were available for a relatively inexpensive price. A new addition were icicles hanging from the branches. These thin silver strands supposedly gave the tree a look of being in the fresh snow with ice hanging from each branch. The idea was lost on me. But I digress.

The first icicles were made of lead. Needless to say when lead was outlawed, the manufacturer started using aluminum to create the shimmering effect. There were different schools of thought when it came to putting the icicles on the tree. Some believed taking a hand full of the silver strands and tossing them randomly onto the tree was the best way. Often this resulted in thick bunches of the icicles being hung here and there. Others were from the school of methodically hanging each individual icicle on a limb, achieving a more even look. 

This method could take many days to complete. It was not unusual for the job not to be finished by Christmas Day leaving a tree with silver strands hanging only half way down from the top or without icicles on one side of the tree. Also, it was nearly impossible to take the icicles off the tree as you took the ornaments off. Most trees found out by the trash were still decorated with thin strands of silver.

It was the decade when Christmas cards became decorations themselves. It was common to see them strung from the mantle, over a doorway, or on a wall. 
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Some of the best Christmas music was introduced in the 60’s. Artists like Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Brenda Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, the Ronettes, the Crystals, and the Beach Boys, to name some, all recorded Christmas Albums. They contained their renditions of season hits plus some of their own songs.

In 1962, the first annual Christmas stamp was issued by the US Postal Service. Every year since then special Christmas Stamps have been released. The USPS eventually started issuing 1 religious  Christmas stamp, as well a secular holiday stamp. Now everyone’s Christmas cards could be sent with a special Christmas stamp. 

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This 1962 stamp carried traditional Christmas images of lighted candles and a wreath. 
Popular toys included Silly Putty, Etch a Sketch, and Play Doh. In 1965, the Charlie Brown Christmas Special debuted. After that no on ever heard The Skating Song by Vince Guaraldi and thought of anything but the Peanuts gang ice skating on the pond.

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Silly Putty modeling compound, about 1962. 
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 Etch A Sketch as a Christmas gift in 1961. THF93827

This 1962 Play-Doh Fun Factory
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