TASTEFUL HOLIDAY DECOR, SOMEWHERE, USA, 1961
Flamingo pink walls and pea green curtains provide a festive backdrop for stockings hung by the chimney with care, plastic poinsettias on the mantle, clown on the wall, Christmas cards on the television console and gifts around the aluminum Christmas tree.
Aluminum Christmas trees are one of the great synthetic products of the space age. They were first mass produced in 1959 by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. At the time the small factory town was promoted as the “Aluminum Cookware Capital of the World” known for making coffee percolators, electric fry pans and Jell-O molds. Aluminum Christmas Trees and Jell-O molds are related? They’re cousins. According to Richard Thomsen, then the company’s chief engineer, the sales manager came up with the idea to manufacture them after he saw handmade silver metallic trees in a holiday display at a department store in Chicago the year before. The “Evergleam” trees were an instant sensation. Dozens of other manufacturers followed suit. Hundreds of thousands of them were produced. Silver not good enough for you? No problem – they were made, though in far greater numbers, in pink, turquoise and gold
Except for the one year we had a flocked tree when I was in Kindergarten, we always had a real green tree, never an aluminum tree. But my Aunt Helen did. Growing up, I looked forward to seeing it every year. The sight of the glittering tree sparkling from the light of the color wheel gave me a great natural holiday high, Christmas after Christmas that I’ll never forget.
Here’s to you and your aluminum Christmas tree!