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When you're a kid in the 50's and early 60's, you might see a dime per week as allowance, IF you've been a perfect angel for those loooooong seven days. Working towards this whopping sum involved clearing the table, washing the dishes, drying the dishes, putting away the dishes, avoiding fights with younger sisters AND not complaining about having to go to bed when it was still light outside.
Needless to say, my piggybank was pretty thin. Ads such as these didn't just show up on boys' comics (this one was with the Fantastic Four comic featured on the right), and after seeing them for several months on the back of my Archie comics (Betty, Betty, always Betty!) I sent away for both the cards AND the "Make $$$, Sell Seeds" catalogs and free assortments.
Soon, every family on my block on Swinton Avenue in Sepulveda California either actually owned packets of seeds or the promise of a box of Christmas cards. I actually made about $10.00 and thoughts of Schwinn bikes and herds of Barbie dolls danced in my head! So I ordered MORE SEEDS. Bad idea. No one was really going to plant the seeds (they had Japanese gardeners to take care of their yards) and they pretty much threw them away after I'd skipped merrily away from their home.
When they saw me skipping merrily back up the driveway a month later with my display box of seeds, they refused to answer the door. Even my mother's angry follow-up phone calls failed to dissuade them. "Marian, come ON. Nobody plants seeds in this neighborhood. We were just trying to be nice, you know."
My father bought most of my Christmas card stock and then told me if I ordered anymore I'd get a spanking from my mother I'd never forget. Then right after Thanksgiving, he sat me down at the dining room table and commanded me to address every single envelope destined for his army of family, friends and business associates. I distinctly remember sobbing, tears falling onto those wretched envelopes, and hearing Daddy yell, "Goddam it Christine, quit the crying and finish those goddam cards!"
It's amazing that I wasn't completely traumatized by the experience.