Category: Long Form

Do You Remember Green Stamps?

Raise your hand if you remember S&H Green Stamps.  For those of you without telepathy, my hand is high in the air.  That’s because I certainly remember Green Stamps.  Now, for those of you who don’t remember them, or aren’t old enough to know about them, let me give you a brief summary of what they were.

I guess the easiest way to explain them would be to say that they were like bonus points you get when you use your credit card, or frequent flyer miles that you can rack up with the airlines, but for everyday things.  The most common place you would get them were at grocery stores.  How much you spent on your grocery shopping trip determined how many green stamps you earned.  

 

Green Stamps

 

There was a little machine next to the register, and the cashier would dial-up how many stamps you had earned and it would spit them out.  The actual green stamps themselves were about the size of a postage stamp, and worked in much the same way, as you had to lick the back of them to stick them in the green stamp books.

 

Green Stamps

 

Now those books, once they were filled, could be used to buy all sorts of stuff from the Green Stamps Catalog.  It was usually the type of merchandise you would find at a Dollar General store, but they also carried some nicer items as well.  So for just doing what you normally would by doing your weekly grocery shopping, you earned some free shopping spree money!  These things were so popular, that the grocery stores used them as a way to bring in folks.  They would often run “double stamp day” promotions where you would earn double the amount of green stamps that you normally would.  This was a big deal in my house, and shopping day always lined up with double stamp day.

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Heisenberg: My 80’s Contraband Life

Heisenberg

I read an article last week talking about the fact that cassette tapes were making a comeback. In fact, cassette tape sales were up over 130% in 2017. I used to love cassette tapes. They were my musical modus operandi all through junior high, high school and into college. While the renewed interest in this antiquated technology may be nothing but a passing fancy, reading the article brought back some fond, fond memories for me.

I was a late bloomer, musically. I didn’t really get into music till around the age of thirteen. Up to that point (and even after), my parents had tried to head the rock and roll devil off at the pass by pushing me towards Christian music. Early in 1984, though, I heard two songs that cemented my rock and roll fixation forever: “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “The Reflex”. One day, while at a mall with my family, I spent some of my hard-earned lawn mowing money at Hastings Records and Tapes on two cassettes. I bought Midnight Madness by Night Ranger and Seven and The Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran. My parents promptly made me return them, opting instead to take me to the Christian book store where I plunked down my hard-earned cash on a couple of tapes from a little known Irish band called U2, October and War  (the jokes was on them with that purchase…but I digress).

 

Night Ranger

 

I didn’t matter though. I was hooked. I found a friend at school who had the album versions of both the tapes I tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase and paid him a dollar a tape to record them for me. I started recording everything. I had cassettes full of songs recorded off of the radio as well as television. I also soon discovered that a local radio station, KMOD in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would play albums from beginning to end in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. I started recording those as well. I would set a watch alarm under my pillow so I could wake up and change the tapes out when I needed to. On several occasions I scored the mother lode. One night, they played four Van Halen records back to back (I, II, Diver Down and 1984). Recorded them all. Another night, they played four Ozzy Osbourne records (Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of A Madman, Speak of The Devil and Bark at The Moon). Got them too. On and on and on.

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The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions 1

I’d like to introduce Joel Geraghty to Retro Ramblings with his Chrononaut Chronicles, where he goes back in time and reviews old wrestling shows!  I’ve been a fan of his work for a while, and I’m sure you’re going to be as well.  He’ll be dropping his great reviews on us on a regular basis, so take a minute and help me welcome to the family.

Along with his actual reviews, I’ll be popping into them as well with little comments of my own personal memories of what he is reviewing to add another level of nostalgia.  You’ll see my comments in bold wherever I drop them in.  With that said, I proudly present to you the first edition of The Chrononaut Chronicles here on Retro Ramblings, as Joel takes us back to the very first Clash of the Champions show from 1988…..

 

 

 

The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions – Sunday, March 27, 1988

– The Clash of the Champions was the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions’ answer to Saturday Night’s Main Event and came as a result of the intense promotional war with Vince McMahon and the WWF. Riding high on the success of WrestleMania, McMahon had added another PPV event in 1987 entitled Survivor Series and scheduled it on the same night as Starrcade, pressuring cable companies to drop the NWA’s signature supercard. Not satisfied with that major victory, in January of ’88 the WWF presented the first televised Royal Rumble for free on the USA Network opposite the NWA’s Bunkhouse Stampede PPV. In response, the Clash of the Champions was conceived as a special TV event broadcast live on TBS the same night as WrestleMania IV, featuring PPV caliber match-ups.

This was a huge deal and proved so successful that the Clash became a Superstation staple, spawning thirty-four more broadcasts over the following nine years. By 1997, the introduction of weekly two-hour shows such as Nitro and Thunder rendered the Clash obsolete. In this series, I will take a look at each Clash in chronological order. Let’s go all the way back to the very first Clash of the Champions as it aired opposite the WrestleMania IV tournament for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. Years before the Monday Night Wars, it was WrestleMania vs. Clash of the Champions live and head-to-head!

 

 

– LIVE from Greensboro, North Carolina! Bob Caudle and Tony Schiavone welcome us to the Clash live on the Superstation, but it’s actually Tony and Jim Ross who handle commentary at ringside.

– NWA World Television Title – Amateur Rules: “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious) vs. Mike Rotunda © (w/”Gamesmaster” Kevin Sullivan)

I never understood what kind of connection the occult-minded Gamesmaster had with a group of standout collegiate athletes like the Varsity Club. Sullivan as a brutal taskmaster of a coach would be logical, but he was still wearing black robes and being billed from Singapore. In accordance with the stipulations of the match, three five-minute rounds are scheduled with a one-count sufficient for a pinfall, so more emphasis is placed on Rotunda and Garvin staying off their backs. The first round is pretty even, ending with Rotunda using his considerable amateur skills as he struggles and fails to pin Garvin’s shoulders to the mat. Rotunda sneaks in a quick cheapshot during the 30-second rest period and assumes control in the second round, but Gorgeous Jimmy mounts a comeback and hooks up the champ for the brainbuster.

Before he can execute the maneuver, Sullivan and Precious get into an altercation on the apron and Garvin gets distracted. Making Syracuse proud, Rotunda rolls Garvin up for the one-count to retain the NWA World Television Championship at 1:10 of the second round. Afterward, Garvin brainbusters Rotunda and punches Sullivan, but another Varsity Club member strikes in the form of Rick Steiner. Precious swiftly makes the save and completely emasculates her husband by whacking Steiner with a 2×4 and garrotting Sullivan with a coat hanger. Seriously. She strangles the Gamesmaster until Garvin drags Precious off of him and out of the ring. I knew Precious was spunky, but damn girl.

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My Earliest Video Game Memories

 

When Christmas day rolled around, I felt this huge urge to hook up the old Super Nintendo and spend the day playing some of my old favorites like Super Mario World, Duck Dogers, Street Fighter II, and more.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to, but I did think back on some of my first memories of video games and shared them with the kids.

The very first memory would actually be about going to the Bristol Mall in Bristol TN and seeing the arcade there that was called The Gold Mine.  However, on that fateful trip, I didn’t get to step inside and relish in all the goodness it had to offer.  I simply got to walk by it and gaze in amazement at all the flashing lights and tingle with excitement from all the sounds coming from within.

 

 

So my actual first experiences with video games in any form would be when my cousin Tim first got his Nintendo.  Somehow, I had missed out on all of the marketing and talk surrounding the Nintendo when it was launched.  I had never seen nor heard of such a thing.  One day while visiting the grandparents, my uncle Ernest mentioned that he had gotten Tim a Nintendo Entertainment System, and that I should come over and play Super Mario Brothers.

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The Buffalo Bills’ Dramatic History in the Playoffs

 

 

This past Sunday evening, the Buffalo Bills qualified for the NFL playoffs for the first time since 1999.  The team doesn’t appear to be a real Superbowl contender on the surface, but then again, stranger things have happened.  Like back in 1993, twenty five years ago today on January 03, when they were a wildcard team and had to face the offensive powerhouse Houston Oilers.  And they had to do it without their starting quarterback Jim Kelly, their starting tailback Thurman Thomas, and one of their best linebackers, Cornelius Bennett.  At least they were getting to play in their home stadium though.

My old man and myself decided to watch the game that afternoon.  My Dad was just a casual football fan and rarely watched a game unless it was the Superbowl, and even then I think it was just because it was a national event, and not because he personally enjoyed it so much.  As for me, I was really getting into football at that point, and watched full games every week, and was excited for all the playoff match ups.  What we thought was going to be just an enjoyable playoff game, turned out to be one of the most exciting NFL games ever played, and featured the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history.

 

 

At halftime, with the score being 35 – 3 in favor of the Houston Oilers, my Dad decided he had seen enough, and changed the channel to some western movie most likely.  Even though the game was a blowout, I decided I wanted to keep watching it and headed off to my bedroom to see the rest of it.

As the Bills started their comeback and continued to rack up points, I tried to keep my Dad informed by yelling from the bedroom to the living room, “THE BILLS JUST GOT A TOUCHDOWN!  IT’S 35 – 10!”.  “THE BILLS GOT AN ONSIDE KICK!”.  “THE BILLS JUST GOT ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN!!!  IT’S 35- 17!!!”.  It wasn’t until they had come all the way back and took the lead that he became interested once again and changed the channel back to the game.  I rejoined him and we watched the closing moments of regulation where the Oilers tied the game with a field goal with just a few seconds left.

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How I Remember Christmas

Christmas

Like I’m sure it was for most kids, December 25th has always been one of those benchmark dates on the calendar. Along side my birthday, and the last day of school, it has always been a measuring point for the year. And for good reason, as I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying the gift giving, gift getting, food, and fellowship that the magical holiday brings.

For me though, the highlight has always been about the time I get to spend with family. Especially my Dad. All through my years of growing up, my Dad traveled. He would be gone for roughly 300 out of the 365 days of a year. But his work always slowed down in December and he had a lot of time at home that lined up so well with our Christmas break from school. And while he himself never got overly excited about Christmas, he did so many little things to make it special for me. Things that most would not think are overly special, but so special to me, that I try to do the exact same things for my daughters every year now.

There is so much nostalgia built into the holiday season for me. So many different things about the holiday that trigger vibrant memories of some of the happiest times of my life. So here in this article, I want to share with you a lot of the little things that I enjoy during the Christmas season, their origins in the past, and some of the strong memories associated with them.

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The Mega Haul of Christmas 1986

 

Two weeks ago, I spent quite a bit of time working on, and posting the article, 1986:  The Year Santa Became Real, for the Christmas season here at Retro Ramblings. In it, I go into detail about how my Christmas experiences took a huge upturn in 1986, and mentioned several awesome toys that I got from Santa Claus that year. I didn’t have the space in the article to go into a lot of detail on each of those toys, so this whole article is dedicated to just that!

Cobra Terror Drome

The big one that Christmas morning in 1986 was the G.I. Joe Cobra Terror Drome. At that time in life, my world revolved around four toys. G.I Joe, Masters of the Universe, Construx, and Legos….with G.I. Joe being at the top of the list. Knowing this, it was no surprise to my parents that the biggest hit of the holiday season would be this huge G.I. Joe play set.

It had room for plenty of figures, so massive battles were a foregone conclusion. I stockpiled this sucker with every bad guy I had in my collection, and then began a full on assault with all of the good guys I could find. Even Bo & Luke Duke in their 3 3/4″ figure form and the General Lee got in on the action on the side of the Joes!

 

More Dukes of Hazzard:  Looking Back at Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise From the 80’s

 

 

Cobra Terror Drome

The initial battle was a stalemate, with Cobra barely able to hold off the tremendous might of the Joes, as they retreated back a little ways to regroup and plan for a second assault. Now of course this stalemate was only to ensure that the Terror Drome was intact to play with again the following day. I spent a while Christmas afternoon interacting with various parts of this set. The Cobra vehicles re-fueled at the re-fueling station built into it, while some of the top Cobra brass interrogated a captured Joe down in the holding cell area.

The shine of this toy didn’t wear off anytime soon, but I had gotten quite a few other new toys this Christmas that required my attention, so I had to let the action cool down a little so I could get on to some of the other stuff like…..

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