By: Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian
I am a booklover. Realizing at a young age that much of what a person learns is through reading, I set out on the adventures of learning through reading a long time ago. Now, I don’t mean to imply that reading is the only way to learn but I believe it is one of the most important ways to learn. Some kind folks over the years have given books to me and I thoroughly appreciate their thoughtfulness. In this column and in later columns I want to mention three books that I have received recently or at least within the year.
A few weeks ago, I pulled my car into a space near a yard sale that was being held just off 421 South. My wife Mary is a huge yard sale enthusiast, as are many others folks it seems. She opted to visit the sale, but I decided to stay in the car. After all, it was very hot that day and I decided to turn on the air conditioning, put the seatback back a little and relax. While I was relaxing and doing a little daydreaming, I noticed a pickup truck parked in the space next to where I was parked.
In a few minutes, the owner of the truck, who is a good friend of mine, appeared at the window of the passenger side of the car. It was Tim Furchess. We talked awhile, and then Tim got a large book from his truck and gave it to me. He said that since I like books so much, he wanted me to have it. It was a reprinted 1922 Montgomery Ward Catalogue.
It was a large and somewhat heavy tome. It was 13 inches by 9 ½ inches by 2 inches. It was well preserved and the dust cover was in remarkably good shape. The original was published in connection with Montgomery Ward’s 50th anniversary. It was labeled The Golden Jubilee edition. It was published in the Roaring Twenties. Looking back the prices are astounding. A man’s 2-piece suit with vest was priced at $12.95. A nickel-plated watch was 89 cents. A snow sled was a low $1.48. Men’s dress shoes – $3.98 per pair. A high-grade medium size heater priced at $18.95. A bicycle could be purchased for $22.95. Some pocket watches priced at $2.95. Fiddles were selling for $5.25. A guitar could be bought for $5.65.
Of course I know that money was difficult to get and a dollar was worth more then than in this days economy. But it is interesting to look back to how it was in bygone days. Thanks again Tim for the book.