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.