From Sea Monkeys To Baltic Amber – Life Of A Mail Order Shopper

Text message received from daughter who was picking up mail at Post Office: What did you order from Lithuania? I did not know. Texted her back, and told her I was pretty sure I had not sent for a mail order husband. Or a book of Lithuanian Fairy Tales. Or mead; I cannot remember why I know they export mead, but I think Lithuanians have made mead just about longer than anyone.

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Then I realized my package had to be the amber bracelets I ordered online. They were made from amber beads, originating from the Baltic Sea area, but I thought that was simply a selling point to emphasize they were genuine, authentic, 44 million or so year old, Eocene Epoch gems. Little did I know they were, indeed, from the Baltic Sea area, and being sent to me by a genuine, authentic Lithuanian.

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And as I waited for them to arrive, I found myself bouncing up and down, figuratively anyway, anticipating their arrival, with the same excitement and joy I felt as a child. There is no way to hide the fact that I love ordering things, and having them sent to me. Always have; from the first time I found those ads in the back of comic books.

Who can forget the opportunity to own Sea Monkeys; buy a Daisy Air Rifle; change from a 98 pound weakling to a muscle-bound strong man; become the proud master of a tiny little tea-cup size chihuahua; or even better, a teeny little monkey; buy and move into ones very own Frontier Cabin; order and sell greeting cards to friends and neighbors; and best of all, X-RAY SPECS.

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It took me a while to warm up to the idea of X-ray Specs, because I had an X-Ray Specs trauma in third grade. Billy Anderson showed up to school with a pair, and passed them around to all the boys in our class, who laughed hysterically as they claimed to be able to see through all the girls’ dresses. Of course, we were mortified and horrified that everything private about us no longer was. Our teacher took the glasses away, and Billy got to march straight to the principal’s office, and subsequently, he and his X-Ray Specs were sent home. The principal came into our class, and explained no one could see through our dresses, and we had nothing to worry about. I sort of believed her, but always felt Billy looked at me with a little too much familiarity from that day on.

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Those life lessons just kept pouring in, and ordering things by mail provided many opportunities to learn as we grew. In the ad, Sea Monkeys looked like a real, undersea, happy-go-lucky family. In person, they were dehydrated brine shrimp. Good grief! That is what we fed the fish in the fish tank. The Frontier Cabin? Cardboard. Changing from a 98 pound weakling to a muscle man was the advertising genius of Charles Atlas, hawking his system of exercises. And the X-Ray Specs? Two pieces of cardboard with holes, set slightly off-center from each other, containing a feather in between.

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How did we not suspect these purveyors of the most imaginative gizmos and gadgets, ever, were charlatans, frauds, tricksters? Innocence. Faith. A belief in the uprightness and integrity of our fellow-man. I know there never was a single moment I questioned or doubted the veracity of those who advertised and sold items printed in the back of a comic book. It was after the arrival of said item that I was surprised, often more than a little disappointed. And even then, I recall thinking perhaps I just had been expecting too much; still not realizing the world could be inhabited by those who were not always on the up and up.

With the advent of online shopping, I once more have entered the realm of ordering and waiting for something to be shipped to me. Things have changed a lot since the days of comic book ad shopping, and I have not received anything to date that left me jaw-dropped disappointed as in those days from long ago. I admit, the anticipation while waiting for notice from my Post Office that something has arrived is bliss. I may not believe in everything sight unseen anymore, but I did just order and receive bracelets made from Baltic Sea amber beads; and I have an envelope post marked Klaipeda, Lithuania. I like the fun and mystery of it all, since we really do not know what we will get until it arrives, but after debunking the X-Ray Specs, and their see-through powers; I do not feel quite so vulnerable, anymore.

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About Valleygrail

Native Californian by birth, Pacific Northwesterner by choice. Jack of all trades, master of none; always wishing I could stick with just one thing long enough to become expert. But then what about all those things left unattended? See? Not possible. I love life, my family, friends, a good book, Irish music, rain, fog, and a pint of Guinness. It's a good journey, and sharing with companions makes it even better. Thanks for being with me as I embrace it and you!
This entry was posted in 1950's, Baby Boomers, Comic Books, Elementary School 1950's, Family, Life Journey, Online Shopping, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to From Sea Monkeys To Baltic Amber – Life Of A Mail Order Shopper

  1. Doobster418 says:

    Ah, nice trip down memory lane. I so remember receiving my sea monkey packet and thinking “WTF” (or the equivalent expression of a typical 8 year old back in the 50s). And what about those “Draw Me” contests? I submitted one once and was thrilled when I received the notification in the mail extolling my enormous artistic potential. All I would need to do in order to realize my potential and turn it into a successful and financially rewarding career would be to enroll in the Draw Me artistic correspondence school. Imagine my disappointment when my parents squelched my dreams of being a world renowned artist by refusing to pay for my correspondence course. [sigh]

  2. I love online shopping! And I know I can order presents and have them sent directly to the recipient, along with an appropriate card. I may never have to leave the house again!

  3. lauramacky says:

    I order almost everything online except for some clothing. I love it!

  4. Sea monkeys! Who could forget see monkeys? They were right nest to the x-ray specs… 😀

  5. I remember all this stuff. Never got suckered for this junk but did order many sets of toy soldiers. Seems they always took about 10 weeks to arrive in the mail.

  6. Don says:

    What a wonderful post. It brought back so many memories. Thank you. 🙂

  7. So interesting! The gems are simply amazing.

  8. Great nostalgia post. Ah, for those innocent days once again, knowing what we know now. I need more of your posts.

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