Sears Roebuck & Co. 1920s and the Depression Years


In the 1920s you could send for about anything from Sears Roebuck & Co.–clothes, toys, food, player piano rolls. When living near Dexter, Iowa, Leora Wilson even ordered her first sewing machine from their thick mail-order catalog.

During the Depression years, Clabe Wilson and his older sons trapped animals for food and for their furs. After cleaning and stretching the pelts, they could be sent to Sears and traded for goods.

Delbert, Dale, and Donald Wilson–contributing to the family during tough times.

They ordered food in bulk–three gallon cans of sorghum, boxes of graham and white crackers, prunes, large jars of peanut butter, Karo molasses. 

An order mailed to Sears in Kansas City, Missouri, on a Monday would arrive in Dexter “by return mail” on Wednesday.

Wilsons mixed Karo molasses with peanut butter to spread on bread–a handy sandwich to take in a school lunch.

For breakfast, they enjoyed graham pancakes with brown sugar syrup and butter, or brown sugar sprinkled on with cream. Once in awhile they’d have rice with brown sugar and cream. Mostly they breakfasted on oatmeal with raisins.

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A big round box of oatmeal from Sears cost 17 cents–just the right size for 3-year-old Danny Wilson to try on.



  1. Is postal delivery as efficient now as it was then? Here our postal services have virtually ground to a halt and cannot be trusted to deliver anything of value any more.

    • No! Amazon can’t fall! At least not as long as I’m alive? I’ve spent several years nearly house-bound, and have so enjoyed the internet and Amazon.

  2. I love oatmeal with raisins! We had it a lot growing up in Stuart and when I fix oatmeal now I still put the raisins in it.

      • My husband eats his oatmeal with butter! I had never heard of it before. I suppose his mom grew up eating it that way. She was born during WWI, while her dad was in France.

  3. Sears turn around delivery was sure quick. Picture of Danny is sure cute.
    Thank you again for a history lesson.

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