In a Manhattan store packed with Christmas shoppers, an impatient customer stopped in front of a display typewriter and banged out a desperate note: "Why don't you wait on me?" All over the U.S. last week, harried clerks were faced with similar problems as they tried to placate hordes of well-heeled customers who nocked into the stores for a record Christmas-buying spree. Dun & Bradstreet analysts estimated that sales in the nation's department stores and mail-order houses will reach a record $2.4 billion in December, up $200 million from 1958, the previous record.

The buyers bought up everything they could...

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