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Old-School Tree: 1962

Old-School Tree: 1962

        Meanwhile, seven years later ...

        This Kodachrome, originally posted here in 2011, can be seen in the December 2018 Canadian edition of Reader's Digest, illustrating the story "Andrea's Gift" in a two-page spread starting on Page 96. They spotted it here on Shorpy and I licensed it to them.

Old-school and old-old-school decorations on our traditional old-school tree. We always called these Scotch firs, but it looks more like the Noble firs I've seen online. We liked them because they had plenty of open space to let the ornaments show unhindered. The oldest one is the frosted pine cone face toward the bottom; it still has some wax blobs from early 20th Century tree candles on it. The hot-air balloon was always one of my favorites. The blue one at the center top is from our "new" c.1960 set. The plastic church was glitter-enhanced by me personally. A couple years later, all the 1940s-era light strings sacrificed their lives to illuminate my castle diorama in the basement. You can see me reflected in the ornament at lower left, along with the bright spot on the ceiling from the bounce flash I used to light this Kodachrome. View full size.

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Terrific Assortment

I really enjoy the memories triggered by this photo. It reminds me of my dad's Christmas tree, which he still puts up by himself at the tender age of 92! He even has a few ornaments that his mother and father bought for each other for their first Christmas together--in 1923! His tree looks very similar to this one, and he can tell you the story behind each ornament. I love the stories. In fact, I'm pretty sure he has ones much like the ornaments in the upper left and bottom right corners. Thanks for sharing!

I am also using the larger lights on my second tree

In addition to the bubble lights on my 7 1/2 foot tree, I have a 6 foot artificial tree using the larger bulbs. Some of the strings are the ones used on my parents' trees when I was a kid. I recently found a stash of brand new "Sugar Plum" bulbs, which are almost 2 inches in diameter and covered in plastic "sugar". They come in various colours and are beautiful. The normal bulbs, especially the blue painted ones, get extremely HOT when run on full voltage. Two weeks ago I installed a light dimmer switch on an extension cord, and now I can regulate the brightness to my liking. My 3 foot tree has LED lights,which use very little power, but they are certainly not as nice as the old style lights of which I have some very fond memories. Merry Christmas to all.

Colorful lights

I'm wondering how many people still use the larger colored lights seen here as opposed to white miniatures. I grew up with the colored lights, and can't imagine having a tree without them.

Only needs tinsel -- a thing of the past

This looks just like the tree I set up yesterday. I like tinsel and was shocked to find out that tinsel is a thing of the past. Years ago I loaded up on tinsel (3 for $1 after Christmas) and haven't needed any since. I also reuse tinsel-a habit I picked up from my thrifty Irish Grandmother. Laugh if you want but that learned thriftiness has served me very well financially. Yesterday I went looking for tinsel and was quite surprised that it is really hard to find but find it I did. I have 25 packages coming from a hardware store in Missouri, at a reasonable price. Sellers on Amazon want upwards of $8 a box. That order ought to last me until I die.

Merry Christmas all.

Why I Visit Shorpy

Today's three images are a great example of why I keep coming back to this site. The wonderful image of Union Station in Toronto, the time capsule image of the Miami Beach living room from the early '40s (despite the unfortunate "joints" comment), and this wonderful personal image. Born in 1956, a Christmas tree like this reminds me of when Christmas was such a magical time for me as a child. We also had family heirloom ornaments from when my parents got married in the early 1940s, and I remember the annual tradition of tracking down the burned-out bulb in strings of series lights. The one difference I see is that my parents used bright-plated metal reflectors under each bulb for most of their lives. Thank you!


This is one of my favourite seasonal images. I saw it on here when it was originally posted in 2011 and I use it every year as my computer desktop picture.

I am still using the early bubble lights

I wire them in strings of 16 bulbs, instead of the original 8 bulbs. They burn half as bright, but are still more than bright enough, they don't get as hot, and most of them still bubble. I have 160 lights on my 7 1/2 foot artificial tree, and about 93 of them are bubble lights. I've been using these for the past 40 years and have never burned out a light. Every once in a while a socket will fall apart, but I have lots of spare light strings for parts. You can still purchase the bulbs for these lights on eBay, and sometimes you can get replacement plastic parts for them. I rebuilt about 40 lights a few years ago. The fluid in the bubble part is methylene chloride, and is very toxic. Fortunately I have not broken many of them. Thanks for the great pictures.

Just like the ones I used to know...

Lovely photo. We still use noble fir for all those thinned out reasons. And C-7 lights too! Sadly, they aren't old enough to have cloth covered insulation on the wiring.


It's interesting to me how many different styles of decorating Christmas trees there are, in every era.

My family tree in Sacramento in that same year of 1962 consisted of the nightlight-sized bulbs: red, green blue, yellow, and purple. Ornaments were one-color plain, in two sizes: metallic gold, silver, green and red. Some "icicles" draped over the branches but not suffocated like they were a decade earlier.

tterrace, THANKS for the memories

As much as I like the old photos that show what life was like in my parents' time (born 1897 and 1910), I also like to see the photos from the '40s, through the 80s that I can relate too from my own life. KEEP 'EM COMING

tterrace, THANKS for the memories. I am about two years older than you are and I see a lot of similarity in your family photos with my lifetime. Your photos of your mother working in the kitchen bring back a lot of pleasant memories for me.

1950s Bubble Lights

In the early 1950s I became enamored of the Bubble Light display in a local store. After much pestering by me my parents finally got a set. Their use was very short-lived, as when we had to relocate to the UK in early 1952 there was something forbidding the shipment of any fragile glass articles with fluids in them. The store in Soap Lake, WA may have gotten them back to resell to another lucky family.

Bubble lights

By this time, all our old-style bubble lights had failed. I loved them, but they were a chancy proposition even when they were (mostly) working. Eventually we got a newer set, but they were about a third the size of the old ones, and just weren't the same at all. To Bull City Boy: early on in my time we still had a string of in-series lights. The only similar thing by the time this shot was taken was the lighted tree base, and each year it was a challenge locating the two or more bulbs that always seemed to have mysteriously failed in storage. In answer to Dutch, the thing that sort of looks like a giant fireplace reflected in the bottom left ball is actually the archway between the living room and dining room.

What a crime

NO bubble lights!!! Beautiful tree! Keep the photos coming, tterrace. Complainers need not visit this site if it offends them. Merry Christmas!

Lovely tree

I finally made an account to say; I love the '50 year old family snapshots' as much I as I enjoy the older photos. I like seeing what the world was like not so long ago, and seeing the happy family scenes. My own family did not have such warm and wonderful memories, and I enjoy seeing the scenes from happier families.


We have an ornament identical to that lower left one on our tree.

Look deeply into the gazing're getting sleepy...

The fun part is looking into the reflections. The top-middle blue ball has what looks like someone sitting in a chair on the other side of the room. And is that a giant fireplace on the left side of the ball (also seen in the bottom left blue ball with photographer)? A photo that begs close inspection - thanks for offering it.

Asking "Why?"

If you have to ask why . . . then you have no appreciation of holiday spirit. It isn't found under the tree, it's in your heart.


Copernicus, just drift along with us as we enjoy the ride. We'd like to see some of your photos too, really we would. They help us all think back on better times and better days.

No more Christmas trees?

It's nice to see a real Christmas tree after looking for them this past few decades and seeing so few. Mostly offered these days are "Christmas bushes" which have been heavily sheared during their life of growing then put into a giant Christmas tree sharpener to make them as uniform as possible.

Is a tree that is so dense that you can't see through it what people want today? How do you hang ornaments on the bush? I guess you just push them a little ways into the thick foliage and that will do. Certainly one can't hang tinsel on a Christmas Bush. Thanks for your photo of the kind of tree that I remember and love.


I have to say that this tree looks very similar to my tree this very year. We still use many of the classic ornaments handed down from our families and lots of handmade decorations produced by our children. Today's glossy designer trees can't hold a candle to a classic, heirloom festooned Christmas tree. Great photo!

P.S. I enjoy your family photos a great deal. Keep them coming.

You can almost hear Bing in the background

Really nice depth of field in this shot. And I always love when the photographer is captured indirectly -- reminds me of the Dutch paintings where the artist would include himself in a mirror behind the subject. This would be a great holiday-themed desktop background!

Memories Of Old Ornaments

Nice. Thanks tt.

Did you have any old strings of lights that were in series circuits, so that all would go out if one bulb failed?

Pretty much as I recall

Lovely! We had many of the same ornaments, and always had the same kind of Noble fir, which my father called a "Burn Barn Tree," for reasons that became obvious as the tree dried. A few of our old ornaments have survived, but the gas balloon is long gone. Alas.


Why are we being treated to 50 year old family snapshots lately? You can certainly put whatever you want on your own website but I have boxes of similar photos in the basement. There's nothing about these that stand out.

[New here, aren't you? - Dave]


I wonder if we'd see any details of the room in which the tree stood if we look real close at some of the ornaments.

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