Christmas in 1965

life-65-coverIt’s 1965 in America, a time of incalculably seismic political and cultural shifts. Lyndon Johnson is president. The first US combat troops arrive in South Vietnam. Civil rights advocates march in Alabama. War protesters burn their draft cards and hold teach-ins. Medicare and Medicaid are established. The Beatles play Shea Stadium. Bob Dylan goes electric. 

It’s also a time when technology is changing. The way we consume media is changing, as televisions, cameras and other ways to share ideas and news become more affordable and hence more common. If the December 3 issue of Life magazine is any indication of what was on people’s minds at the time, technology, travel and convenience defined the picks that made their way onto people’s Christmas wish lists. 

The conveniences of home appliances. Elves and Yukon Cornelius not included.


For those who simply couldn’t wait to have film developed, the Polaroid Instant camera was the answer. The downside, no negative to reprint if you caught a really great shot.


Drug stores offered quick gifts at prices that didn’t make a buyer wince. Note: vintage lovers would love to have that 79 cent box of Shiny Brites, right?


“An idea Christmas gift for young people with something to say.” No, not a smart phone. A typewriter. This technology involved thinking before you typed because correction tape was a pain to use.


With travel more affordable for more people, suitcases were popular gifts. As a testament to making quality products, these Samsonite pieces (and their American Tourister counterparts) are still in great shape when vintage lovers find them today.


The home tape recorder. Cutting edge. Being able to record sound at home was nearly magical. Launching a thousand garage band dreams, some of which became careers.


Costume jewelry was an investment gift. While the finer makers were higher priced, department store staples like Trifari, Monet and Sarah Coventry were affordable, and as any vintage jewelry lover will tell you, wonderful quality.


Some things never change. A television is still a top notch holiday gift. And a place where innovation still happens yearly.

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  1. Talk about jarring the memory bank! I remember all of those things! And that GE Toaster Oven, my mom used that thing until about 2010 when it finally caught fire. Such great memories. Thanks for that trip back in time.

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