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Corduroy, double knits and extreme weather: What Christmas was like 50 years ago

Resident Russ Allert shared this photo on the Kamloops History Facebook page of him and his sister tobagganing on the cul-de-sac of Munro Street's 500 block in the winter of 1964-65. Behind the house is where the Peterson Creek Bridge was built in the 1970s.
Image Credit: Contributed
December 25, 2014 - 9:31 AM

KAMLOOPS – Fifty years ago in Kamloops the gifts, clothes and news were different, but the holiday spirit was just as strong as today’s.

In a look back at the Kamloops Daily Sentinel from December, 1964 the hot ticket items to gift for kids were dolls for girls and trucks or model kits for boys.

The best–selling “Claudette doll” whose eyes opened and closed when you rocked her back and forth was on special at the Hudson’s Bay for $4.49. A different model, the “Teeny Tiny Tears Doll” sold for $3.77. She didn’t close her eyes, but she did cry “real tears,” blew bubbles, drink and wet herself.

For boys, the iconic green plastic miniature army sets were selling for $1.99.

The ideal gift for your teenager was a “lightweight, all steel, jam proof” typewriter that sold for $69.95.

Eaton’s department store which was on the corner of 3 Avenue and Seymour Street, did its best to promote furniture as a gift item with an advertisement that stated: “Bedroom groups make interesting gift ideas, too.” If bedroom sets weren’t your thing, then there was always a scotch-guarded nylon frieze-covered rocking chair with your name on it.

The still-present Commodore Cafe on Victoria Street promised a holiday luncheon special which you could take advantage of during holiday shopping.

When it came to trendy winter fashions, hipster pants were a thing - although a far cry from today’s skinny jean hipster standard.

Ladies classed up for Christmas parties with puffy chiffon dresses with swirling skirts or a cozy, velvet sheath. For kids, it was all about corduroy; sometimes change is good.

Beyond the plastic toy sets, real life American soldiers were deployed in Vietnam with many wired media reports making the front page of the Sentinel. Two days before Christmas, it was announced there could be anti-American protests in Saigon as outlined by South Vietnamese army generals. The U.S. countered by threatening to withdraw aid.

Making Canadian headlines was, of course, extreme weather conditions. Just before Christmas, a warning was extended to those driving on rural roads. The district superintendent of highways in Kamloops told motorists they should prepare for “every eventuality” in case of a car incident. He made specific mention about a woman and child who were stuck on the road only wearing “light sweaters.” 

Ironically, Kamloops residents read a story about a Gaglardi family member facing a fine 50 years ago just like present-day locals did this month.

Then-Highways Minister Phil Gaglardi was handed a five dollar ticket for making an illegal left turn and hitting a bus in Edmonton. The five-dollar-fee he faced didn’t match the $140,000 his grandson was recently ordered to pay but the story similarly ran province-wide. Gaglardi stated “I’ll wire the mayor, the chief of police and the bus system the next time I visit them. I want to make sure that they get all their little buses off the street so I can’t hit them.” He then wished a Merry Christmas to Edmonton Bus drivers.

What do you or your family member remember from Christmas 50 years ago?

-With flles from The Canadian Press and the Kamloops Daily Sentinel

To contact a reporter for this story, email, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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