Cash Money

The other night, John and I were watching American Pickers. We rarely watch that show. For some reason there was a marathon of them leading up to the Season Premiere. In this particular episode, Mike and Frank were somewhere in a giant building going through crap looking for treasures. Same as pretty much every single episode. Mike found the most awesome tin sign. It was green and white. It was probably 2×3 feet. It looked to be in great shape. It was an S&H Green Stamps advertising sign. Remember those? Remember green stamps? 

The History: 

copied from the web:

“S&H Green Stamps were the first trading stamps popular across the U.S. and Europe, although the company did have competitors. “S&H” stands for the Sperry & Hutchinson Co, which was founded by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchison in 1896. 

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the company’s reward programs became popular nationwide, and the little green stamps were distributed by various retailers as rewards for shoppers. The stamps could be collected into booklets – the backs had an adhesive like that on postage stamps that had to be wet to adhere – then the booklets were redeemed for “rewards” ordered from S&H catalogs, or picked up at one of several S&H centers across Alabama. The centers, found in Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville and most larger cities, were like department stores, offering everything from linens to china to furniture to sporting equipment.”

S&H green stamps, small for a dime and large for a dollar. Sooper Dooper gave them out when customers spent money on groceries. A lot of them. We had a green stamp machine, kind of like a rotary dial phone. People would get mad if we, as checkers, forgot to give them their green stamps. And, if a person was really lucky the person in front of them, who didn’t collect them, would offer them to the person behind them. Score. They were a premium item. 

Who cares about green stamps, you might be asking? Well, we did. Sherry and I did. They used to have a green stamp store here in town, way down on Pierre Street, next to the funeral home. Anyone could go in there and turn in their stamp books for a discount on all kinds of products. You had to fill them in first. Lick and stick. But, the most important thing, THE MOST important thing was that a person could cash in the books for money. Cash money. And when I say person, I mean me. I also mean Sherry. I am not sure how we found out about this great program. Who knew? Winning! 

Prospect House. Mom kept the green stamps in a drawer. It may have been a basket. The memory is fuzzy. We had a ton of the empty stamp books, so we, as in Sherry and I, would lick and stick and fill up the books. We had to be careful though. We didn’t want it to look like we were taking the stamps and using them for our own purposes. I realize taking is kind of a weak word here. Okay, okay, I was stealing. Again! I think this is the last time though. Seriously. Anyway we had to be strategic. We couldn’t just fill up all the books and then go cash them in. I mean, really, we had to be better thieves than that. 

We would head down to the stamp store. We were there for no other purpose than the cash. Cold hard cash. It was good money too. The store itself always kind of creeped me out. It always seemed dark and it smelled weird. The lady who worked there was meticulous. She had dark puffy hair and glasses and wore a smock. A store smock. She was tall and skinny. I never saw her without lipstick. She always gave us the look when we walked in the door. The look of non-trust. The look of the brats are here again. Like I said, she was meticulous with these books. She made sure every single page was filled and every stamp was in its place, licking her finger and then separating the pages, making sure, page by page. Ken and Egghead from The Cottage must have told her the pop bottle story. The word may have gotten out about our lying and stealing ways. This was a small town after all. She reluctantly handed over the cash, after asking every single time if we were redeeming the stamp books for something such as luggage, or a toaster. Ummm, cash please. 

Cold hard cash. Score. I have no idea why we needed the money. It wasn’t like we were supporting a drug or alcohol habit. It could have been a candy habit though.

Most people saved the stamps and put them in books.

Most people saved the stamps to buy products at a discount.

Most people did the right thing.

Sherry and I weren’t most people. 

 I swear stealing has ceased in my life. I grew out of it. I developed a conscience. 

4 thoughts on “Cash Money”

  1. I luv this story! I use to play grocery store at my grandmas and give her green stamps. That store was very creepy and smelled funny but I liked it anyway because G’ma would let me redeem the stamps…. I had no idea cash was an option!!

  2. You guys are smarter than me! I never knew they would give you cash or I’d have been right there with you! Ha!! Mon would sit me down with a damp sponge on a cold day and I would fill those books and watch TV. I remember that store being spotless and quiet, like a library.

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