If They Can Bring Back Layaway...
...why not S&H Green Stamps? I dearly loved the concept of Green Stamps as a child, and I eagerly volunteered to fulfill the duty of pasting the stamps in the redemption books with our special Green Stamp sponge in a former ash tray. The table on the right is the only item that I definitively know came from an S&H Green Stamp Redemption Store. It was from one in suburban Kansas City that was soon to close its doors in the late 1980s as the concept of savings -- be it cash, Green Stamps or anything -- was very much out of vogue in the twilight of the Reagan era.
It's likely there are a number of other remnants from the redemption stores around this house, but this table is the only one I can confirm and I've never had the heart to part with it because of its historical significance. It's fitting that the lamp on it echoes the retail redemption plan that I much preferred, at least aesthetically -- Top Value Stamps. They were never as common as S&H, but I was enamored with their mascot -- Toppee the elephant. My grandmother made me both the more common sock monkey and a sock elephant named Toppie who was my closest companion from about age three to 35. Okay, maybe until age 12. I still have Toppie somewhere in my off site storage.
I've never fully analyzed it, but my early fascination for Toppie has long given me a passion for items representing elephants, and I have usually used the excuse of saying "Oh, it's a Ganesh!" I even have a favorite tie with elephants on it that freaks out a lot of people when I wear it with cries of "Egads, you've gone Red State on us!" I always point out that elephants were around long before the G.O.P., and I resent them co-opting this nobile pachyderm.
Maybe those stamps and redemption stores (now that's a wonderful name, isn't it), were just another snide ploy in the web of consumerism. Yet I get nostalgic often for them and that thought that I could walk in, hand over those thick, warped books and and walk out with a lovely, brand new tzotchke and only have to pay tax.
Perhaps the Obama team should consider the concept of Top Value and Green Stamps as the ganesh of the universal health care plan. For every pack of cigarettes or Big Macs you surrender three hundred stamps, for every box of blueberries or contribution to sustainable development you earn 1500.