Still awaiting those shiny rocks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 16, 2004

When I was about 9, my one Christmas desire was for the rock tumbling kit I had seen in the Sears catalog.

The Sears catalog held all my dreams at the time – there were toys, clothes and even some big-girl makeup that my parents just might buy me.

The Sears catalog was the pinnacle of the Christmas catalog trio, the first being the one from Service Merchandise (a couple of pages of toys) to JC Penney’s catalog (more toys and some clothes) to the granddaddy of them all, the Sears catalog.

As children, my brother and I didn’t use a calendar to mark the progression of the seasons – we used catalogs.

Service Merchandise meant it was August, JC Penney meant September and Sears meant October.

By the time Sears arrived, you were starting to pay attention to whether you were naughty or nice and those threats from your mother that Santa was watching began to have greater meaning.

But back to the rock tumbler. My parents weren’t excited about the rock tumbler.

&uot;You will never use it,&uot; they said, pointing out the array of other craft-related toys in my closet, most of which had remained untouched.

&uot;Yes, I will,&uot; I promised with my hand crossing my heart. &uot;Just look at the picture in the catalog. You can take plain rocks and make jewelry!&uot;

I kept lobbying until it was time to go see Santa at the mall.

&uot;I want a rock tumbler so I can make jewelry,&uot; I said. &uot;That’s all.&uot;

Apparently, my keep-it-simple approach worked.

Nestled amidst the pile of packages on Christmas morning was a rock tumbler, just like the one in the Sears catalog.

I opened the box and found something that looked like a small barrel, a package of pebble-like material and a long book of directions.

After being instructed to take my new toy – and its pebbles – to the basement, I started to read the directions.

&uot;Mix half cup water with gravel mixture until a thick paste is formed. Pour into tumbler. Select rocks to tumble and place in bin. Plug in. Tumble rocks for three to four months, checking after one month, until desired finish is achieved.&uot;

Three to four months? There wasn’t anything in the Sears catalog about three to four months!

My brother is upstairs playing with his new pinball machine right now. He doesn’t have to wait three to four months before it works.

I was mad, a young consumer ready to return my toy – rock, stock and barrel. But I didn’t.

Instead, I left the rock tumbler in the basement and never even turned the thing on. Eventually, it got thrown out or sold at a garage sale.

I hope some kid liked it enough to wait three or four months to see the finished product.

This kid sure didn’t.

Leada DeVaney Gore is the publisher and editor of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is the former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter.

She can be reached at