It's Nov. 23, 1951. Historical photos always show the merry holiday displays, but we rarely get the window dressers' view.

It was a nippy day for gawking; the high was 20, and subzero weather was on the way. The Minneapolis Tribune said shoppers were enjoying "a series of animated Santa Claus scenes" at the Dayton's on Nicollet Avenue. Among the items on display were a trike and a trumpet. In the bottom left-hand corner, there's a board game called Space Pilot, the object of which was to claim other planets' mineral resources and make more money than the other players. Saturn's plutonium alone would net you $50 billion.

Over at Donaldson's, between 6th and 7th streets, the window displays featured electric trains, and you suspect these were more popular than elves moving their arms around. The paper said the kids were particularly enthused, with one yelling "look at the smoke." At the Powers store on Nicollet and 5th, "scenes from 'Christmas at Grandfather's House' " could be observed. Thanks to the Minneapolis Retailers Association, block after block of Nicollet Avenue was crossed with garlands, bells and ornamental balls, from Washington Avenue to 11th Street. It's Christmastime! Start shopping!

But what could you buy? Socks. Gloves. Shirts. Tech-wise, one of the popular gifts was a "Streamlined Consul-Tone" Zenith radio, for $39.95. You could put down $6, and take a year and a half to pay off the rest, so you're still paying for Christmas 1951 when Christmas 1952 rolls around. Then, as now, some of that Saturnian plutonium would come in handy.