tv Through the Decades CBS December 25, 2016 5:00pm-6:01pm EST
this is "through the decades," a unique hour-long time capsule. today we look back at the most wonderful time of the year. from the story behind rudolph the red nosed reindeer. "his boss wanted him to write a comic book, paper comic book, to give away in their toy department with a toy purchase." to the tale of a man who embodies the spirit of the season. "he delivers groceries to the blind, medicine to the sick and money to the needy." and a town that celebrates christmas the way we did in the eighteenth century. "there are no crowds. there are no department stores." those stories and more in the next hour, part of a different kind of television experience, where we relive, remember and
relate to the events that are cemented in history. i'm ellee pai hong. i'm kerry sayers. and i'm your host, bill kurtis. it's the holiday special, "through the decades." it's the holidays! a season in many ways that remains unchanged "through the decades." we celebrate with the same lights, delicious treats, obligatory shopping and as much merriment as we can muster each year. so, today we thought we'd take a look back at both some of the traditions and stories that return every year as if by clockwork and a few that may feel distinctively of a different era from the time tested rituals of our colonial days to the generosity of a north carolina man who set an example for the past and the future. but, we begin with a story that you may recall. the one about rudolph. the most famous
reindeer of all. we all know his story. but what you may not know is the origin of this classic tale. things started simply enough as a holiday promotion for a department store in 1939. rudolph's backstory begins in chicago near the end of the great depression. at retail giant montgomery ward, adverstising copywriter robert may was given a new assignment - to create an original christmas story for a holiday give-away. "his boss wanted him to write a comic book - paper comic book - to give away in their toy department with a toy purchase. and they knew my father was very good at writing short stories, um ... very good with limericks and rhymes and he was kind of known for that at the office." may decided to make a reindeer the focal point of his christmas story and similar to the children's classic, "the ugly duckling", he wanted the main character to
have an underdog quality and overcome a daunting obstacle. he drew upon his own childhood as a bright but undersized youngster. "the story is autobiographical because my father skipped a lot of grades. he was always the youngest in his class, he was small in stature." "he realized that kids could really identify with not fitting in, not being part of the group, but then realizing, ultimately, maybe the one thing that made them odd was going to be something that would change their life for the good and change everyone else's life for the good." may gave his main character a glowing red nose bright enough to guide santa's sleigh through a foggy christmas eve. and he named him "rudolph." then may dove into writing the story sometimes running lines by his wife and four-year-old daughter, barbara. "well, he was a great story- teller -- i had stories every night. and, i just remember his checking with me a few really difficult words like "stomach"
which he thought maybe littler kids wouldn't know. and i think i suggested 'tummy'. and i remember sitting at the desk late night after night." true to his vision, may portrayed rudoplh as both saddened by being "different" but also strong in himself. and of course, finding a unique and special purpose for his shiny red nose. "there is one illustration where rudolph is leaving a note for his mom and dad when he leaves with santa -- telling them not to worry. and that's my father's actual handwriting on the note at the end of the bed. 'dear mom and dad, don't worry i've gone to help santa.'" "that just gives me goose bumps when i know that he wrote that. that that's really is writing cause i miss him." in the midst of writing the rudolph story tragedy struck the may family when robert's wife eveyln died after a long bout with cancer.
his boss at montgomery ward offered to take him off the project but he refused. "my father, after his first wife passed away, wanted extra things to do to keep busy and i think it gave him something he could do with his daughter as well, as a single father. he could come home at night and work on the story with her and i believe that that ... i think it did help him through a very difficult time." in the fall of 1939 robert may finished "rudolph the red-nosed reindeer". that holiday season, montgomery ward gave out copies of the booklet to its customers nearly two-and-a-half million in all. the booklet and the story were an overnight sensation. "he was very excited that it was popular, that it had gotten such a good response, that people had written in and said they loved it and that their kids had loved it." in 1940, the war in europe deepened and with it came a paper shortage forcing montgomery
ward to suspend production of the "rudolph" story. after the war, production resumed. the downtime only helped increase rudoplh's popularity. ward's gave away over three million copies in 1946. by then, robert may had remarried and started a second family but times were still tough, he was burdened with medical bills from his first wife's illness. and then came a suprising stroke of corporate benevolence. "at that time, people at montgomery ward could see that the public was really infatuated with rudolph. and a friend of our dad's interceded on his behalf and was able to get the copyright so that allowed my father to pursue publishing offers that had come from several publishers who wanted to put out a hard-bound edition of the book." in 1947, the rudolph book was introduced, and the following year saw a nine-minute animated film version of the story.
"well, i remember moving from, kind-of a dingy little apartment to a wonderful house which had wall-to-wall carpeting and those miraculous light switches which didn't make any noise." "well, my dad always felt that it was just a complete gift that rudolph had been as successful as it had been and he always referred to our house as 'the house that rudolph built'" rudolph's next big leap would come in the form of music. robert may's brother-in-law was a songwriter named johhny marks. "my uncle john and my father - they discussed writing a song that would parallel the story that my father told in the book. my uncle said sure he would give it a whirl and ended up writing the song, 'rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.' it was recorded reluctantly recorded by gene autrey. his wife told him not to sing it, that it was not a good song and he shouldn't even take it on as a project. he did the first recording of it and it was a huge, huge hit." a huge hit indeed. "rudolph the
red-nosed reindeer" sold over two million records in the first year of its release in 1949. and it remains second only to bing crosby's "white christmas' as the best selling christmas song ever. "he was thrilled that the song was written and that it was catchy and cute and it was played a lot and it took my father's story to the next level." in 1951, the rudolph had become so popular that robert may took a 10 year hiatus from his joat montgomery ward to manage the rudolph franchise. "the late 1940s and early 1950s there were over 500 different products that had been licensed for "rudolph the red- nosed reindeer". "this was nothing that he never thought would happen to him -- ever. and all of a sudden, this was like his child. and he was responsible for it. he wanted to make sure everything that was done around rudolph was done properly, that it was
respectful, that a child could identify with it. they had everything from pajamas to headbands to stuffed animals." in the 1960s, rudoplh would be introduced to a new generation of youngsters. this time through a rankin-bass t-v special. the t-v production included a cast of additional characters but stayed true to rudolph's original message. "each additional character was sort of a mini rudolph idea within the rankin bass special. the doll that had red hair and freckles, the charlie in the box, the elf that wanted to be a dentist and was laughed at and all of those characters really reflected the same idea that rudolph projected which was 'i'm different but that's ok. i'm gonna do what i need to do. i'll be accepted.' ultimately, the toys were all adopted and loved." the special premiered in
december of 1964 and became an instant classic, appealing to rudolph fans old and new. "my father was thrilled with the show. he couldn't believe it. i remember vividly the first time i saw it. and he was just thrilled and so happy and proud and excited and the phone rang, and he got so many congratulatory phone calls and it was a magical time." "rudolph the red-nosed reindeer" has remained a mainstay of christmas tradition bringing joy to millions. and true to the song, he really did "go down in history." when our journey continues, we go back in time to celebrate the season of goodwill as it was before being transformed for all its commercial possibilities. "but in this one place there are no traffic jams, no gaudy lights, no television commercials, no commercialism
at all except that the baker is baking gingerbread cookies to make the children of the town happy on christmas morning." we'll remember the holiday toys of a bygone era. the story behind an unexplained symbol of the season. plus, the enduring response to a little girl's letter about santa claus. then, the holiday tradition of giving on the coast of maine and the history behind the unique christmas tree craze of the 1960s. it's all still ahead on "through the decades." it's all still ahead on "through the decades."
remain most true to the original spirit of the holidays as it foraged its way from europe to our earliest pioneer days. and today, colonial williamsburg celebrates the joyful season as it has for centuries including when charles kuralt journeyed through time in 1979. "for some, even at this late hour, it may not seem like christmas but as charles kuralt reports from 'on the road' christmas isn't really hard to find, all you have to do is step back a few years." "we found a place which does not celebrate christmas with enormous crowds jostling in the department stores. there are no enormous crowds. there are no department stores." (music playing - what child is this?)
"here christmas is observed simply. old friends meet to play an old song of the season together. fires are lighted in all the fireplaces of the town to warm the body and the spirit. i don't mean there's no celebration here. there is a rattling good fife and drum parade down the main street that even the little kids take part." "there are wreaths on all the doors of the town - evergreens and apples and an air of expectancy. people are bustling about on their errands. i don't mean that it's an ordinary time of year but in this one place there are no traffic jams, no gaudy lights, no television
commercials, no commercialism at all except that the baker is baking gingerbread cookies to make the children of the town happy on christmas morning. the baker is baking and the blacksmith is working right up until christmas day. the ringing of the hammer on the anvil is like a bell to the town as the early winter darkness comes alon" (choir singing the first noel) "a group of carolers stands under torches on the square singing together. the simplicity of the moment is sweet to feel. standing out here in the cold and misty dark among the people singing brings on long thoughts about what we have done to christmas in the name of commerce. this quieter christmas seems so much more of what christmas should be - a
wreath, a candle, an old song and time for quiet reflection." "and what is this place? it is colonial williamsburg virginia where christmas is observed as it was observed by the people who lived here in the 1770s. you get the feeling here that this is the christmas many people of america are trying to find. it's too bad we have to go back to the eighteenth century to find it." *singing "born is the king of israel." "merry christmas! merry christmas to you! charles kuralt. cbs news. on the road." still to come as we continue our hour long look back on the holiday season "through the decades," we remember the charm and the lesson's learned by antique toys "toys teach a child many things. they teach a child when he can see a mechanical toy the way things work." plus, we'll take you back to
today we worry about the latest sneakers, phones and games as we fuss over gifts for our youngest loved ones, but we remember a time when the wrapped boxes under the tree featured gifts made by hand, carefully and painstakingly and would last a lifetime. "well now that the first toys of this space age christmas are broken, we thought you might like to see some toys that have endured decades of christmases. they are short on computer chips but as walter cronkite reports, these toys are long on that ingenuity which answers
the timeless appeal. the wonder of children at christmas. "the toys are too dated for this to be santa's workshop but it could be his museum which would make apple stan speelhouse santa's curator. a geophysist, former university dean, aide to three presidents, speelhouse is an elder statesman of science for who toys have never lost their magic and an educator who thinks they've always been more than just playthings." "toys teach a child many things. they teach a child, when he can see a mechanical toy, the way things work." "the scientist is intrigued by the science in old mechanical toys. the way they harness and demonstrate the principals of physics, the use of gravity in this turn of the century french toy. magnetism in a 1950s japanese bear. energy storage in the flywheel of this 70 year old british toy." "he has a little can underneath and he draws a picture. turn
of the century by field matter of germany." "this mark with his handlebar mustache and the whole thing. that must be quite a mechanism inside there?" "well sure. this is a forerunner. you see we think we are so smart today but these fellows did it with a can like that.." "old toys also are history. pieces of christmases passed. carved on their shapes and painted on their surfaces, are the hopes, fears and prejudices of their times. here's a toy of the french revolution, blacksmith at his forge but that's no horseshoe he's hammering, it's an aristocrat's head." "toys today are very different of course what with computers and other electronic gadgets but speelhouse doesn't think the change is for the good." "i don't think the culmination of art and the wonderful thing you feel by winding a toy by
hand, it's hand size, the ability to understand it's movement, see it's little, simple mechanism and the funny antics it does. these are all, i think, to me, lost in the modern toys." "toys are such marvelous tools for learning of course because they first of all are instruments of wonder and delight. vehicles in which youthful imaginations can learn to soar. those are qualities these old toys had in abundance for generations past. qualities that you don't have to be a child or a scientist to understand. this is walter cronkite. cbs news in santa's museum." when our look back on the stories of the holiday season "through the dfecades".. continues..
we have the story of a lone tree found along america's back roads adopted and beloved by motorists passing by. "the tree is a juniper and it grows here beside u.s. 50 utterly alone. not another tree for miles. nobody remembers who put the first christmas ornament on it, some whimsical motorist years ago. from that day to this, the tree has been decorated each year. nobody knows who does it." plus, the iconic response to a child's letter that has become as synonymous with christmas as the man whose existence was in question. the story is still ahead right the holiday season is a time to
pause and reflect, to consider the joys and challenges of the year gone by. in this next piece, charles kuralt finds meaning in a single tree on a busy highway nestled high in the mountains of colorado. it lives day in and day out, above the tree line. it endures on its own, without reason or logic, an unexplained symbol of the season. "trees just do not grow up here on the high plateaus of the rockies. everybody knows that.
trees need good soil and good weather and up here there is no soil and terrible weather. people do not live here. nothing can live up here and certainly not trees. that's why the tree is a kind of miracle." "the tree is a juniper and it grows here beside u.s. 50 utterly alone. not another tree for miles. nobody remembers who put the first christmas ornament on it. some whimsical motorist of years ago. from that day to this, the tree has been redecorated each year. nobody knows who does it but each year by christmas day the tree has become a christmas tree." "the tree which has no business growing here at all has survived against all the odds. the summer droughts somehow haven't killed it or the winter storms. when the highway builders came out to widen the road, they could have taken the tree with one pass of their bulldozer but some impulse led them to start widening the road just a
few feet past the tree. the trucks pass so close that they rattle the trees branches. the tree has survived the trucks." "the tree violates the laws of man and nature. it is too close to the highway for man and not far enough away for nature. the tree pays no attention. it is where it is. it survives." "people who live in grand junction 30 miles back that way and in delta, colorado, 15 miles that way, all know about and love the tree. they have christmas trees of their own of course, the kind of trees that are brought to town in trucks and sold in vacant lots and put up in living rooms. this one tree belongs to nobody and to everybody." just looking at it makes you think about how unexpected life on the earth can be. the tree is so lonely and so brave that it seems to offer courage to those who pass it. and a message. it is the christmas message - that there is life and hope even in a rough world.
charles kuralt. cbs news. on the road in colorado." as our journey continues, we remember the story of a man on a decades long mission to give back. plus, the answer to an age old question that captured the power of journalism and the human capacity to believe and we look back on the glorious, glittering reign of aluminum trees in living rooms nationwide. you're watching "through the decades." there are people who remind us of the humanity in our communties, those who embody the spark of compassion and kindness, those who can't help but bring light to darkness and without trying leave good will in their wake. we won't explain more about why we are sharing this next piece today, just watch for
yourself. "john fling is delivering the milk but he is not the milkman." "hey loretta. i got your message." "he's an auto parts delivery man, is what he is but every day in between deliveriess of carburetors and truck springs to customers he delivers groceries to the blind, medicine to the sick, money to the needy." "how about food? how about food?" "yes, sir." "y'all gonna need some food too." "most of us can live with the thought that other people are hungry. john fling has just never been able to live with that thought." "i don't have too much with me but that'll help a little bit." "what is your biggest need tonight?" "as always, food." "food?" "for 40 years with no weekends off and no vacations, he has made the rounds of the rough streets and back alleys of columbia giving away his own pay. he does not discriminate. he gives it to anybody. mrs. dorothy barksdale told us john's blander than we are. he
can't see black." "good to see you." "the cap he wears says 'i love to tell the story' but h really doesn't stop to tell the stories, he's too busy giving away everything he has." "somebody told me one time you just took your socks off and gave them away to somebody." "i gave it to a man on the streets who had no socks." "i went outside and met a one- legged man. he was crossing the street to get his meal on a day like today and he says john if youver run across a raincoat that can fit me, i'd love to have it. i get wet comin over here to get my meals everyday. i pulled off my coat and handed it to him and the two fellows with me from my church he says come on let's get in the truck. if we stay here much longer, you're gonna give your pants away." "i want a cabbage patch doll." "cabbage patch doll?" "he gave away his only television set. he gave away his watch. he's had three cars in the last ten years, gave them all away." "i'm gonna whisper to santa claus just like you whispered to me." "his boss at love chevrolet let's him use the company truck
for his good works but must harbor the secret fear that someday john's going to give away the truck." "i've always been in a situation where if i had five dollars in two or three hours, i'd meet somebody who needed it worse." "other people hearing about john fling give him some of their money to give away. there is a welfare department in columbia of course but it can't take time to run errands in the middle of the night or mow lawns or take kids fishing or stop to bring a smile to the face of a little girl so john fling takes care of all that." "one of his daily visits is to jake sam, an 85 year old amputee who lives in a 8 by 11 foot shack with no lights and no bathroom. he wouldn't have food or heat either if it weren't for john fling." "jake, i got you seven bags and a box of *inaduible ." "it's a hard way to live. isn't it?" "well, he lives in the shadows of a big church but sometime we get pretty busy you know the beaches and the mountains come before your neighbors sometimes."
"anything i need, he will get it. medicine or anything else." "he doesn't forget you?" "no, he never forgets." "pretty soon, we got where when we needed to go anywhere we would say, well john we need to go somewhere and he'd be here by the time he got off of work and what was amazing he wasn't just doing this for two or three families, he was doing it for dozens of families." "i guess he still is huh?" "he sure is." "i've been trying to figure out, maybe you have figured it out, why do you think john does all of this?" "he just has a deep love for people is all i know." "why i do it? i don't know. i guesit's just a responsibility of man maybe feels that he has so christ says pick up your cross and follow me. he didn't say how far it was expected to be carried. he didn't say how heavy it was. he didn't even say what description it would come in." "what do you got on hand in the way of food right now then?" "well, right now, all i've got in there is a few bags of beans
and a couple boxes of grits and that is about it." "you run around there to winn- dixie and get you some groceries for these kids and uh, okay, okay joyce i'm gonna leave you. i just wanted to stop by and see how y'all are doing." "we all know there are people in our towns with christmas trees in the windows and only beans and grits in the kitchen to eat. we try not to think about. john fling thinks about nothing else." "my everyday christmas is what i can do for somebody else. that's christmas every day. i don't think we have to wait for christmas and another thing, i don't think we have to wait to we die to enjoy a little bit of god's kingdom right here on earth. i just don't think so and that's the way i live. that's the way i live." "saint nicholas as we know does not drive around in a blue chevrolet truck but i though this would be a good time of year to tell you about another saint who does. charles kuralt. cbs news. on the road. columbia, south carolina." magic, the holiday season wouldn't complete without it.
the sparkle off the snow, the twinkle of the lights, there is just no other way to describe it. but, perhaps the most magical of all the holiday traditions is the notion of santa himself. and in 1897, one little girl asked a question that would keep the holiday magic alive for all. in the late 1800s, eight-year- old virginia o'hanlan wrote to "the sun," a conservative newspaper in new york city asking if there is a santa claus. her question was answered on september 21, 1897. printed on the seventh page of the newspaper, the editorial titled "yes, virginia, there is a santa claus" was written by veteran newsman, francis pharcellus church. and his response made its mark in christmas folklore by capturing the innocence of childhood, cementing the power of the written word and unlocking the transportive
power of memories. to date, it is the most most reprinted editorial in history. television specials, t-v movies and musicals have all been made. major retailers, like lord and taylor and macy's have used "yes, virginia, there is a santa claus" for various displays, campaigns and commercials. reminding us, every holiday season, of the story's enduring appeal. still to come, we look back on an annual new england occurrence. the origin behind the "santa of the lighthouses" plus, we remember the gleaming aluminum trees that decorated living rooms across america in the 1960's. the 1960's. this is "through the decades." and now we go back to a moment this is "through the decades."
and a talking family dollhouse. "long christmas lists" "you're not afraid of santa claus, are you?" "smile." "...and cameras." "oh, that's cute. oh, that's perfect. oh, it's perfect." "but this christmas, kids have some new competition for a place on santa's lap." "what's the matter, puppy? oh." "a lineup of canines and cats..." "what's your name?" "this is snuffle and this is pee-pi." "...complete with doting parents..." "whoa. he's big enough." "...behavior problems..." "young lady, you need to be polite." "...and bad attitudes." "pitbull." "santa, can you pick up chester just a little bit?" "no--oh, yeah, sure. this is a dangerous job." "this is the third season for this santa at a dallas petsmart store." "max, sit, max. good boy." "santa, look over here." "a national chain that shares its holiday picture-taking profits with animal charities." "santa's starting to sweat now." "for hours, he must cope with constant heat..." "zoe, come on." "oh, boy."
"come on." "... and uncooperative pets." "come on. santa has got to go back to the north pole soon." "they're just unpredictable. the ones that you think that are going to be easy are the tough ones." "sit. sit." "it's just a lot more work than you think it is." "and always, this santa faces the possiblity of posing with something frightening." "this is very unusual. you all are perfect little pets." "i've done monkeys. i did a 14 foot python. all different kinds of pets." "photographer sherry hicks has learned to make them all look good." "the main thing is to get their eye contact." "and her team does whatever it takes." "that's good." "okay maggie." "yes!" "it is barely controlled animal anarchy. a chance to sniff and be sniffed. a chance to show off and show affection." "cause we're getting ready to
take our picture with santa now." "all of this may make no sense at all to people who don't have pets." "it's only 39.95." pets." "it's only 39.95." "but it is worth every penny to those who do." "oh that's cute!" "for a permanent piece of christmas." "perfect." "a furry, family portrait." "where even the naughtiest, at least for an instant, are nice." "bob mcnamara. cbs news. dallas." don't we all wish that gifts would come falling from the sky? that santa claus would bring presents from the heavens to brighten our day? for a few in remote maine, those who guide in the ships from the dark - that's exactly what happened. "this is a story about light and about tradition. it begins in 1927 when a pilot lost in
bad weather off the coast of maine spotted the faint gleam of a lighthouse, turned toward the light and taking his bearings from lighthouse to lighthouse was saved. in gratitude, that christmas and each christmas that folllowed, captain bill winkelpaw flew over each of those lighthouses and dropped off a bundle of gifts for the stationkeepers and their familes. in 1936, new england author and historian edward ro snow took up the tradition and flew the santa claus flight to the lighthouses in good weather and bad for 44 years taking his wife and daughter along to help him with the well-padded packages of toys and books and candy that he dropped at the isolated lighthouses. his daughter dorothy will never forget the thrill." "you know it would just be very windy and noisy and you'd go along and you'd see him go *pfft right out the window like that and then *pfft again and he'd say, 'they got it! they
got it!' and my mother would say, 'now edward. bring ... don't lose your hat. come back in here.'" "thank you for the things you sent down. i wish i could have seen the package fall." "anna murrow snow has kept all the letters from halfway rock and monhegan, cuttyhunken, nantucket, from children in lonely places." "i saw you drop the package over eastern point light and i was the one who got it. i bet you make a lot of children happy. i am 14 and even i enjoyed it." "mrs. snow remembers watching the young bride of the lightkeeper at remote gurnett light off plymouth." "she was out there and it was her first year married and she was so lonesome and when she saw the plane coming, she ran out and she danced up and down and then when the package landed you could see her feet going she was running as fast as she could to get it and she held it up way over her head and
you could just feel the joy she had at that lighthouse. it was very nice and it made us feel good to you know?" "what the snows remembered all these years and what other people safe in cities forgot was that there were people out there on those islands and headlands, coast guardsmen and their familes, alone most of the year and alone at christmas. edward ro snow died in 1982 but the santa flight was too splendid a thing to die and that is why this year, santa came again to the lighthouses of new england under the sponsorship of the whole lifesaving museum now and again the shouts of wild anticipation and again the little family groups waiting on the ground for the one exciting event of winter and the familiar figure waving from the sky and again this year, a long way from any playmates, little children wrestling with
big packages in the snow. the santa flight started as an act of gratitude 58 christmases ago. nobody had to do this at first. by now, george morgan, a santa whose white beard is his own, finds he does have to, every december." "merry christmas! did you expect to see santa come up to visit you? yeah?" "so an old tradition of warmth and gratitude was carried out this week in cold and stony places. of course, it's a tradition that acts out the christmas story of strangers carrying gifts great distances toward a light that pierces the darkness. charles kuralt. cbs news. on the road in new england." they were all the rage in 1960's when we return we look back on the history behind when living rooms across america replaced their traditional tree with a newer, shinier and modern version.
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politically correct toys and along with the promise of fun, they carry a message." "christmas shopping is in full swing and for families with children, toys are at the top of the list. but in some of the toys the kids are looking at this christmas, there's more than meets the eye." "i like him because he cleans up the world." "marcus presley is talking about toxy. the toxic crusader. one of the many new toys that try to be more than just child's play." "there's actually lots of different types of toys but they all have one thing in common. they are attempting to latch on to a new consumer interest in the environment in what's politically correct and socially correct." "and what's correct for hasbro, the nation's largest toymaker, is a new mission for g.i. joe. he's been redeployed as an eco-warrior, doing battle against the cobra organization and it's highly polluting septic tank." "with toys, what you try and do is mirror what's happening out in the kid's world. the enviornment is a very hot button with children today."
"hasbro is not the only toy company putting correctness into toy boxes this year. there are those plushy endangered species whose proceeds in part go to saving the real ones. there's the updated science lab that teaches kid how to test for acid rain and radon gas or earth alert, the board game that encourages kids to recycle. together, they make up a kinder, gentler generation of toys." "the violent toys seem to make them more violent so hopefully these toys will have a positive impact instead of a negative impact. they will be more caring toward the planet which is very important." "and it's not just the planet that toy manufacturers are noticing, the ethnically correct doll that supports self-esteem is in demand. this year, mattel introduced shani, an african-american friend of barbie's." "it's about time. my mother always bought the white dolls and i always wanted a black doll and now they finally have one. pretty ones." "they may be less than one percent of toy sales this year but in an age of new sensitivity,
manufacturers think toys with a message have a future." "niche marketing is certainly one way that manufacturers are going to grow their business and if tapping into the social area is a way to grow your business, i think you are going to see more of it." "the trend has spawned a whole new set of good guys and bad guys in toyland. hasbro says its next special g-i joe doll will be a crusader against drug abuse." these aren't your mothers' christmas trees , but they may have been your grandmother's. the aluminum christmas tree made popular in the late '50s was the perfect solution for someone who wanted the sparkle and shine of the holiday without the muss or fuss. on the eve of christmas, a look back at how these relics from our past took root more than half a century ago. the christmas tree, one of the most celebrated traditions of the holiday season rose to popularity after queen victoria, prince
albert and their family were illustarted standing around one in the 1840's. since then, shopping for, decorating and cleaning up after the christmas tree has become an annual tradition but in the 1950's christmas trees went from being old school to heavy metal. aluminum that is. "you had so many things going on in the american culture at that time. you had space exploration. um, a lot of new uses with aluminum." "so, it was sort of like the timing was right in the culture and everybody just embraced the idea of an aluminum tree." dave harms says there were advantages to the space age trees. "if you were going to buy an aluminum tree, you're bringing home in a box. you can set it up in the living- room anytime you want. . you can do it easily within an hour and you don't have to worry about watering it, or hauling it back outside or vacuuming needles up off the
floor." plus, it wasn't a fire-hazard "it's a piece of aluminum, thin aluminum stripping, which is then serrated with a machine and it's wrapped around a thin...uh..needle or branch if you will and inserted into a christmas tree trunk." and there were so many options to choose from. "some were flat-needled. some were loop-needled. some had a twist and a curl in the needle design. there were silver trees. there were pink trees, gold trees, blue trees. and then there were bi-colored trees. some of them had ornaments that were in the ends of each of the branches. they made a rotating tree stand which also had a color wheel built in the base. . they had four to five different colors on it that would rotate so that you can shine uh this light on the tree and your tree would change colors." "when i started collecting
early christmas, i found a colored aluminum tree at a uh antique shop. and it made me smile right away of course, cause i remember aluminum trees as a kid. and the realization that, oh, there were colored aluminum trees." by the early '70's, the aluminum christmas tree fad had faded away. the last couple of decades has seen a bit of a resurgence but harms says the illuminated ones have always held a special place in his heart. "there was one company in chicago that made a tree that has lights built into the tree. . and when all the other tree makers had a warning in their assembly instructions about not placing lighting on your tree for the danger of shock, these people already had lighting built into the tree. so you could still have illuminated aluminum christmas tree. that's my favorite" that'll do it for us today. that'll do it for us today.
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captioning sponsored by cbs >> severe weather creates holiday havoc. blizzards slams the north central u.s. dangerous thunderstorms blast across the plains. also tonight a russian jet crashes with 92 on board including member of a famous choir. and we'll drop in on the christmas lights king of queens. >> you are truly clark griswold. >> absolutely, that's who i am. this is the "cbs weekend news." >> happy hall dairksz i'm demarco morgan. it's a whiteout christmas in parts of the