Saturday, June 25, 2011

Green Stamps

BBBH baked cracklins in the cornbread which she prepared to serve with the navy beans for supper. I love cornbread and beans. But the cracklins in the pone was a whole new experience, sorta porky, one might say. It was okay, and I enjoyed the meal. But she can leave those little chips out next time, it'd be okay by me.

I had cleared and washed the dishes, wiped down the appliances and the spouse and I had just completed three hands of RummikubTM , which finds me down two games to one. The phone rings.

"Hello," I say, as is my wont.


"Hi, Kenny, what's happening.?

"No, no. No problem. Just something I wanted to ask you. Do you remember when I was five or six years old that Mom shopped at Marsh a lot, and she used to get some kind of little green stamps which she stuck into books?"

"Absolutely." I validated his memory. They were called S&H Green Stamps. They were distributed by a company called Sperry and Hutchinson and merchants passed them to customers as premiums for shopping with them. You got an S&H catalog and when you saved enough stamps you could redeem them for stuff."

"Right, right, and did you sometimes get Christmas gifts for the kids with them?"

"I don't actually remember, but that is not outside the realm of possibility."

There was a bit more conversation. I mean, after all, he had called me all the way from East Tennessee to ask his question. I was pleased both to talk with him and with the fact that in spite of the intervening forty years, we both had memories of a vignette in the life of our household.

Kenny's mother was an amazingly astute and cautious shopper, and indeed she had to be, in order to feed and clothe the two of us and the four kids on the paycheck I brought home in those days. Ken went ahead in our conversation to talk about the drawer in the pantry where he remembers Mother keeping the S&H booklets, and he was right, though I hadn't thought of that in ages.

A little web search after the visit revealed that S&H Green Stamps were introduced in 1896 and at one time Sperry and Hutchinson printed more stamps than the US Post Office did. Although the stamps have been discontinued, they have been replaced with Green Points. Electronic age, you know. If, however, you still have some stamp books lying around, they can still be redeemed, or traded for Green Points.


Secondary Roads said...

I remember those S&H green stamps too. Oh what fun to spend an evening licking and sticking stamps into those little books. At least they were tangible--something physical to hold and handle. An experience frequently lacking in virtual experience that comprises modern life.

Vee said...

We got our first baby's bassinette with those stamps and also Mom and Dad's Silver Anniversary gift - a pair of salt and pepper shakers that matched their silver. S&H did not think cheap with regard to the things that could be redeemed.

Anonymous said...

Dwayne Reese, my brother in law had an idea one time about getting a minni van type of auto for the Indian missions out in South Dakota with green stamps. It was advertised locally and through the help of many, enough stamps were saved to purchase that van.
People from all over can come together for a good cause.


Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I was just thinking about green stamps the other day, so it was interesting to see this post. I got some great things with those stamps. Things for baby Steve, and I later got a really nice travel alarm clock that was stolen on the first trip I took it on. From that I learned that maybe it's better to just have my old junk because no one wants to steal it. I did not know that there were still electronic "green points."

Oh- and thanks for the memories of shopping at Marsh. I knew the one in Marion well.

vanilla said...

Chuck, just something about that licking and sticking. I bought an item "online" this morning. One used to thumb through a paper catalog, fill out a paper form with pen and ink, write a check, stuff envelope, lick stamp and mail. Then wait, anticipation building, for two or three weeks. Now, they tell me the item will be here Monday. Where's the fun?

Vee, no, Sperry and Hutchinson did not "think cheap." I was once told that you could even buy insurance policies with Green Stamps. Who knew?

Bob, memory seems to suggest that one could get almost anything with Green Stamps, provided he had enough of them! Good for Dwayne.

Shark, we shopped at that very Marion Marsh during the 60s when we lived in Loonville! Memories are fun.

Lin said...

Oh, even I remember those green stamps! My mom would put my brother and I to work licking and sticking all those stamps into the little books. I don't remember what we turned them in for though.

vanilla said...

Lin, seems that once upon a time, everyone collected some kind of trading stamps; tableware came in oatmeal boxes, and gas stations gave out drinking glasses (not plastic). Roadmaps, too, and they were free even without a purchase. Ah, yes.