Day 3: Kenwood Bicycles

For #WishlistWednesday we are taking a look back at Kenwood Bicycles from the 1902 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue. The Kenwood Manufacturing Company, in existence from 1891-1908, was located at 153-255 South Canal Street in Chicago. Like many companies at the time, Kenwood looked to participate in the big bicycle boom at the turn of the century. Over 75 bicycle manufacturing companies in Chicago can be traced back to the 1890-1910 time period, including some like Schwinn that survived until 1992.

The 1902 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue featured both ladies’ and men’s Kenwood bicycles for the reasonable price of $10.95. The ladies’ bike featured a lower crossbar so skirts could be easily lifted over and out of the way. In addition, the chain and back tire had a fender and cover to protect skirts from getting caught. The men’s bicycle featured handlebars below the crossbar, whereas the ladies’ bicycle had handlebars above the crossbar. The advertisement in the Sears, Roebuck catalogue was a full page and promised a money back guarantee if you were not satisfied with your bicycle. The advertisement also highlighted that when buying the bike you would receive a tool bag filled with items needed to maintain it.

The Sears, Roebuck Catalogue had a large selection of bicycle parts which could be purchased individually to maintain your bicycle. Tires and seats were common repairs, with a large variety offered to purchase in the catalogue. More in depth add-ons were available, such as horns and whistles, attachable tool bags, locks, gas lamps, and trouser guards.

Day 2: Howdy Doody

Children from the 1950s may remember the Howdy Doody television show, which ran from 1947 – 1960. It aired on the NBC network in the United States and was one of the first NBC shows to broadcast in colour. The show’s host, Buffalo Bob Smith, created the voice of Howdy Doody while working as a radio announcer. As the positive response of the character grew, an idea for a television show began to take shape. A puppeteer was hired to create a Howdy Doody puppet and the stage was set as a western town.

The show’s “peanut gallery” made the show especially popular among children. A live audience of approximately 40 children sat on bleachers on the stage during filming. The show began with Buffalo Bob asking the peanut gallery, “Say kids, what time is it?” to which the kids would yell, “It’s Howdy Doody time!” There were jingles and a theme song which the audience also participated in.

Howdy Doody himself is a freckle-faced, western dressed, marionette puppet who went through different appearances during the television program’s run. Many of the original Howdy Doody puppets can be found in private collections or museums around North America. Howdy Doody dolls and marionettes began to be mass produced in the 1950s. The image above features a 1952 Howdy Doody marionette manufactured by Peter Puppet Playthings, Inc. based in New York. Howdy Doody lives in his original box here at the Welland Museum, with operating instructions, and a pamphlet on other puppets that were available for purchase from the company. He was last on display in 2017, during our Canada 150 exhibit.

Day 1: Teddy Bears & Catalogues

Earlier this week we shared a teddy bear advertisement from the 1910s Sears, Roebuck Catalogue for our #WishlistWednesday feature. As the advertisement says, teddy bears “have come to stay more popular than ever”. Stuffed bears have had many invention claims over the years, in a variety of countries around the world but the teddy bear specifically became wildly popular in the early 1900s.

The name “teddy” is in honour of the United States President at the time, Theodore Roosevelt. A political cartoon ran in The Washington Post in 1902 which illustrated President Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a tethered bear during a hunting trip. Morris Michtom, a shop owner in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, saw the political cartoon and created a tiny stuffed bear which he then sent to Roosevelt. He asked permission to use Roosevelt’s name and, once received, placed the bear in his shop window. The bear became immediately popular in North America and led to Michtom founding the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. in 1907. If the incident had happened to any other president at any other time, we may be calling them Georgie bears or William bears.

Toys like teddy bears could be ordered from the Sears, Roebuck Catalogue, as shown from the advertisement on Wednesday. The catalogues could be purchased for 50 cents, and once you found an item you wished to buy, you would mail the company the money for the item with a description of what you were buying. The price of teddy bears in the 1910 Sears, Robebuck Catalogue was based on the height of the bear. For those living far from stores or shops, purchasing from a catalogue was one of the only ways of getting manufactured goods.

Businesses were able to use similar ordering catalogues to order goods for customers. In this 1958 Rosbergs advertisement, placing your order over the phone and using lay-away plans were both options for shopping. Rosbergs was listed in the 1937 City Directory at 72-86 East Main Street. Stores had access to the inventory they had on location, but could also order in a variety of products.