Holiday exhibit recreates pages from old Sears Christmas catalog

Remember opening up your mailbox to discover your eagerly anticipated Christmas catalog?

Children would excitedly flip through the pages to select items for their letters to Santa or identify potential gifts for hard-to-buy-for family members.

The Sears' Christmas catalog truly provided one-stop shopping, from popular fashions and toys, to the latest outdoor Christmas innovations.

Now you have the opportunity to revisit the 1969 Sears Wish Book in person.

See page 351 come alive with authentic lighted and animated decorations at the McHenry County Historical Museum, 6422 Main St. in Union.

These pieces pre-date they current versions you see on front porches and lawns today.

Also on display will be the 5½-foot tall Santa that on holiday fixture at Brandt's Pharmacy in Marengo for more than 40 years. There also will be municipal decorations from the 1950s through the '70s.

A collection of rocking horses, dating from the 1930 through the 1960s, will complement the "Rock Around the Quilted Tree" show and exhibit.

They include an early Mickey Mouse model from the 1930s and Peppy the Horse from a popular 1940s comic strip.

Veteran Christmas collectors Dave Harms and Lynne Eltrevoog of Marengo re-created the catalog scene in exacting detail, featuring original "blow mold" plastic angels, a snowman, a 10-foot-wide building and more!

Harms has staged holiday displays at the McHenry County Historical Museum for the past 12 years.

However, the opportunity to reconstitute an exact scene from an iconic company very much in the news proved too alluring to pass up.

"It's something that has not been done before," said Harms of the flashback holiday scene. "It's a little bit of a different twist."

The McHenry County Historical also is once again hosting its popular "Rock Around the Quilted Tree" quilt show, a display of World War II holiday-themed war posters belonging to Crystal Lake collector Bob Frenz, a Sears aluminum Christmas tree and a "Letters to Santa" table.

The quilt show features quilts with a silver and gold theme. Stroll through a fabric forest of quilted trees and vote for your favorite.

The exhibit continues from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday throughout December and until Jan. 4 with the following exceptions: Dec. 24, 25 and 31, and Jan 1. Limited weekend hours by appointment only.

Shop the museum store for notecards, history books, antiques and crafts for holiday gifts.

Call (815) 923-2267 for availability. Regular museum admission applies. Admission is $5, $3 for age 60 or older and students; or $12 for a family. It is free for museum members.

For details, visit or

Check out the collection of rocking horses, dating from the 1930 through the 1960s as part of the holiday exhibit at the McHenry County Historical Museum in Union. Courtesy of McHenry County Historical Society
Vote for your favorite at he popular "Rock Around the Quilted Tree" quilt show. Courtesy of McHenry County Historical Society
This year's holiday exhibit has a Sears' Christmas catalog theme, featuring the popular fashions and toys. Courtesy of McHenry County Historical Society
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