One Christmas season long ago, my husband learned a hard lesson at the “Texas Gold” trading stamps store with his great-grandmother, Edna. Texas Gold Stamps were a spin-off of S & H Green Stamps. They were issued by the HEB (that stands for Howard Edward Butt) Supermarket in Texas. Like everything else in Texas, they were bolder and brighter than mainstream Green Stamps. Rather than making a separate visit to a Green Stamps store like S & H Green Stamps customers, Texas Gold Stamps savers could redeem their books at stores inside HEB Supermarkets.
For a long time my husband didn’t remember the combination to the little safe (we later discovered it was written on the bottom of the coin bank) she bought that day with her hard-earned Gold Stamps, but he’ll never forget the lesson he learned from that little coin bank.
S & H, or Sperry & Hutchinson, was the company that fueled the consumer trading stamp craze. Green Stamps were trading stamps popular from the 1930s until the 1980s. Customers received them when they bought products at gas stations, grocery stores, and etc. The stamps were licked, then pasted into books, which could be used to buy items from the Green Stamps catalog or store. The better the item, the more books needed. Competitors included Texas Gold Stamps (HEB Supermarket), Greenbax (Piggly Wiggly), Triple S Stamps (Grand Union Supermarket), Plaid Stamps (A and P Supermarket), and many, many more.
I have set of Indiana Glass “Colony Harvest”milk glass candle holders that were collected by mid-westerners with S & H Green Stamps. I can remember my grandmother using her Green Stamps to buy silverware for Dad’s bachelor apartment in the late 1970s. She had a special drawer in the kitchen for her Green Stamps books.Unfortunately, all good things come to an end eventually. S & H Green Stamps began to decline after the recession in the 1970s. As more stamps were required to purchase items with value, people began to view trading stamps as more trouble than what they were worth. However, S & H still exists today, and you might still be able to redeem those Green Stamps. You can check out their S & H “Greenpoints” site with this link: https://www.greenpoints.com/
My husband’s grandmother Edna was a sharecropper’s wife from South Texas. She didn’t have a lot of money. One Christmas she used her Texas Gold Stamps books to buy presents.
It was Christmas season during the 1970s. Granny Edna took my husband, her oldest great-grandchild, with her to the HEB Gold Stamps store. She wanted him to help her choose a gift for one of his cousins, Tracy Don.
The Texas Gold Stamps store had two potential gifts that appealed to ten year-old boys like my husband. One was a really cool toy car, and the other was a miniature coin-bank safe with a combination lock, with the words “Fort Knox” written at the bottom.
Granny Edna looked at Keith and said, “Now which one of these do you think Tracy Don would like?”
Keith did not want Tracy Don to have the race car. He wanted the race car for himself. So he said, “I think Tracy Don would want the safe.”
He remembers his grandmother asking him if he was sure. “Oh yes,” he said. “I’m sure that Tracy Don would like the safe better.”
The days went by, and Christmas Day finally arrived. The Christmas gifts were passed around and probably ripped open at lightning speed. Keith was given his present from Granny Edna. ”I know you’re gonna like mine,” she said. He quickly opened it. Much to his chagrin, it was the safe from the Gold Stamp store. ”I knew you were gonna like it,” she said. “Because you picked it out!”
Through all of the clean-outs and moves he made as a child in a Marine Corps family he never got rid of the safe, or forgot the life-lesson he learned that day.
I still laugh when we talk about that story. The little coin safe sits on a shelf of the curio cabinet. It reminds me of the Bible verse from Proverbs 26:27:
He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.
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