Priscilla MangnallTHE WAY WE WEREGrand Junction Free Press History Columnist

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December 1, 2011
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PRISCILLA'S COLUMN: Going Green with S&H trading stamps

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -I have a big old pile of &H Green Stamp books. Yes, they still exist and mine are totally redeemable.The program is a little different these days but Green Stamps or Green Points, as they're now called, are alive and well. You just can't get the incredible array of merchandise that you could back in the day. Just gift cards or cash. Boring.My sister and I have been reminiscing about how important Green Stamps were in our family. Mother kept them in the second door down below the cutting board and the kitchen towels. Becky remembers watching the store cashier count out our earned stamps hoping they would miscount and we'd get a few extra. On the Facebook page, "You Know You're from Grand Junction When...," people started sharing their trading stamp stories so I decided I better write about them.Sperry and Hutchison started the Green Stamp program way back in 1896. It reached its popularity zenith in the 1960s; that's when most of us remember helping our moms fill the books by licking those coveted little green stamps and putting them carefully in their designated square in the Green Stamp Redemption Book. The taste of that glue was intoxicating if not addicting.Becky recalls, "We'd get several books saved and then darn it, we'd get a wedding invitation in the mail!" Down we went to the redemption center and get on of those avocado green, 100% virgin acrylic, double-bed size electric blankets. It was nice enough to make the Browns look like they had some money to spend.We got most of our stamps at Brach's Market or the gas station. Although I was the designated licker, I can't recall having been the beneficiary. I still remember what the Green Stamp Store looked like. It was located at 124 N. Fourth St. behind Mesa Drug. When you walked in it seemed to have a golden glow, most likely from all the amber glass and brass-plated lamps. The walls were arranged with clocks and lamps and Syroco wall art. On the showroom floor was the Colonial Revival or better known as early American rocking chairs, record players, BBQs and bassinets. In the middle of the redemption center were glass shelves, and on those shelves where the small appliances like alarm clocks, electric knives, radios and all those colored vases and glassware. It wasn't a big store so it seemed to have an abundance of choices. Mrs. Vivian Kelley was the store manager and ready to help you. If the store didn't stock what you wanted, you could order it from the catalog. We always had one around the house.Here's what some locals had to say on Facebook:• Judy Kirkham-Beville, "I got my first guitar with them...thanks Mom."• Bella (Pace) Conner did the same, "I got a nylon string folk guitar with S&H Green Stamps, and what's more, I still have that guitar!"• Barbara Raff Tallerico, "I remember when Mom and Dad would get Green Stamps at the Safeway in Teller Arms Shopping Center, when it was there. I believe that they bought one of those old turn crank ice-cream makers with the stamps. Best old fashion ice-cream anywhere..."Ice cream makers were a popular item to get with your stamps. Becky reminded me that we had gotten a hand-cranked turquoise one.• And from Shannon Hutton Hill, "That is how I bought my first ice cream maker!"• Arlene Goad wrote: "We saved stamps all year long and all my four daughters were able to spend on Christmas gifts for others first and then themselves, they had great fun."There was no end to what you could get with Green Stamps - trips to Disneyland, stoves, refrigerators, sofas, camping equipment, tools and toys. Another popular item was the maple spoon rack with the planter, which went well with the Early American lamp tables.Green Stamps weren't the only game in town. You had More-Valu, Tru-Valu, Blue Chip, Red Stamps, Pioneer Stamps, Gay Gifts and even the local gas stations had their programs although I don't remember how you redeemed them.By 1999 only about 100 stores in the U.S. offered S & H Green Stamps. Eventually, the company went the way of the internet and now offers "greenpoints" as rewards for online purchases. But I've still got a pile of the real stuff and plan to send them away and get me something. My day has come even if it is just a boring little square piece of plastic and not the jewelry box with the dancing ballerina like I always wanted. I will be redeemed.---------------------Reach Priscilla at 970-260-5226, or email priscilla.mangnall@gmail.com.


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 1, 2011 09:15PM Published Dec 1, 2011 09:09PM Copyright 2011 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.