Sears catalog comes to life at McHenry County Historical Museum

This Christmas display is one of the many things that can be seen at the McHenry County Historical Museum this holiday season. (Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Historical Museum)

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 in Union. These pieces predate the current versions you see on front porches and lawns today.

Also on display will be the 5 1/2-foot tall Santa that on holiday fixture at Brandt’s Pharmacy in Marengo for more than 40 years; plus municipal decorations from the ’50s 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 recreated 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.

A display of rocking horses. (Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Historical Museum)

“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.”

MCHS 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 exhibit continues from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday throughout December and until Jan. 4 with the following exceptions: Dec. 5, 24, 25 and 31, and Jan 1. Limited weekend hours by appointment only. Call 815-923-2267 for availability. Regular museum admission applies. For details visit