Wednesday, December 28

On the fourth day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Four calling birds
Three French hens, two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Dec. 28, 2000 was a sad date in retail history when U.S. retail giant Montgomery Ward announced it was going out of business after 128 years.

Montgomery Ward was founded by Aaron Montgomery Ward in 1872. Ward had conceived of the idea of a dry goods mail-order business in Chicago, Illinois, after several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. The business grew at a fast pace over the next several decades, fueled by demand primarily from rural customers who were also attracted by the innovative and unprecedented company policy of "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back", which Ward began using in 1875.

Laura Ingalls Wilder fans recognize the importance Montgomery Ward catalogues had for those who lived far from the big city:

For themselves, they decided to buy a present together, something they could both use and enjoy. After much studying of Montgomery Ward’s catalogue, they chose to get a set of glassware. They needed it for the table and there was such a pretty set advertised, a sugar bowl, spoon-holder, butter dish, six sauce dishes, and a large oval-shaped bread plate. On the bread plate raised in the glass were heads of wheat and some lettering which read “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder
The First Four Years

That breadplate was one of the very few things to survive the housefire that destroyed their home a few years later.

One of Momma's treasures includes an identical antique glass breadplate. (She loves to collect antique china and glass patterns mentioned in her favorite kidlit books. So far she has Laura's breadplate and Blue Willow china as well as Tacy's china pattern in a teacup and saucer. She's trying to hunt down a sandwich tray in Mrs. Ray's china pattern, too.)

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