A look back at Christmas from a half century ago | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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A look back at Christmas from a half century ago

Humanity saw the Earth from a new perspective for the first time during the Christmas of 1968, when the Apollo 8 mission became the first manned space flight to travel out of low earth orbit to the Moon.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/NASA Facebook
December 25, 2020 - 8:00 AM

If you were sitting around the table for Christmas dinner in the Thompson-Okanagan 50 years ago, there was likely one dominant topic of conversation. Gauging from newspaper stories from the season in 1968, residents joined the rest of the world focused on mankind's attempt to conquer the greatest technological challenge of the day - putting a man on the Moon.

The news that made the front page of every newspaper in the region in the days prior to Christmas was all about Apollo 8’s mission, the first time a manned spacecraft left low earth orbit to orbit the Moon.

“Astronauts Head For Moon Orbit,” headlines in the Dec. 21 edition of the Penticton Herald read.

As we all look forward to the holidays this year, we thought we'd take a look back at a Christmas of the past. 

Aside from the Apollo Mission, one other news headline helps set the scene. “Shrinking world for mini-skirts” told us the popular garments were being prohibited in some countries.

It was definitely a white Christmas that year with mention of sled runs on Vancouver Avenue in Penticton following a recent snowfall.

Those shopping for Christmas gifts didn’t have the internet, but didn’t need it, as the local papers were full of ads by local stores offering gift ideas, such as a cassette tape recorder from Hi Grade TV in Penticton for $49.95.

Long’s Building Supplies in the same city was selling ping pong tables for $22.93, and the local appliance outlet — Tony Stolz Ltd. — were offering household conveniences like electric can openers for $19.95, a blender for $39.95, or a toaster for $32.95.

If you were a big spender, you could buy someone a car, like a 68 Mustang GT for $4,190 at Valley Motors in the Peach City.

A 1968 Ford Custom would set you back $3,605, and if things were tight you could still hit the road in a 1960 Chevrolet for $195.

Forget about emails, as snail mail dominated the day, and locals didn’t send Christmas cards without attaching a Christmas seal on them, a tradition in Canada since 1908.

“Gentlemen, did you forget to buy your Christmas present for your wife?” asked one ad, suggesting the purchase of a gift voucher for some drapes.

A local newspaper story also suggested Fido would make a great gift.

“SPCA figures Show Dogs Are Popular Gifts,” the headline read. That's certainly changed; the SPCA offers plenty of caution for giving pets as gifts.

Having a few too many drinks and getting behind the wheel wasn’t a good idea back in those days either, although in 1968 it seems society was just beginning to come to terms with the cost associated with drinking and driving.

Just before Christmas, police announced their intention in the local paper to set up roadblocks, (not road checks). The Christmas Roadblock Program checked all motorists for their drivers license, registration and an inspection of the vehicle’s mechanical fitness.

Those found to be impaired were subject to a 24 hour suspension.

“The purpose of roadblocks is to deter impaired driving, more than to arrest drinking drivers,” explained one officer.

The same news story urged drinking motorists to take a cab instead.

Sound familiar?

— This story was originally published December, 2018.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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