One of the original rewards programs was founded by a Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson way back in 1896. Merchants would buy the stamps and reward their customers with S & H Green Stamps in an amount depending on how much in products or services one bought. Folks would save those stamps by licking and pasting them in books while perusing the catalog and waiting for the day they had accumulated enough books to exchange for the desired items. This program was popular for some 50 years running from the 1930s to the late 1980s. My mother collected S & H stamps religiously along with Betty Crocker coupons from boxes of cake mix and box tops from a variety of cereal boxes that could be redeemed for various items. Well, what does that have to do with fishing?
Back in the mid 1950s and armed with a number of S & H coupon books Mom went to the S & H redemption store in the town near where we lived and traded them for fishing poles and reels for me and my brother. I don't recall the makes and models but they were not the more expensive rigs...just simple poles and bait casting reels...and then the fun began.
We lived on a ranch in the foothills of Madera County, CA that had a pond that was full of bluegill and catfish. Dad loaded us up in the Power Wagon and off down the trail to that pond we would go. Not having a clue as to what we were doing, it was quite the learning experience. Dad was not a fisherman so it was a learning experience for him too but being a cowboy and packer he did know everything one needed to know about tying knots. So armed with the poles and reels and a package or two of snelled hooks, some sinkers and bobbers and of course, worms (where we got the worms is a subject for another story) we set about fishing. And then it happened....
Yup, first cast out and the reels were one big ball of twisted and tangled line...the back-lash monster had appeared and now all that good prime fishing time was spent getting the tangles out. After a number of these episodes I finally had the thought to hold my thumb on the reel while casting to prevent the reel from over-spinning and after a considerable amount of practice I finally kinda got the hang of it and was eventually spending more time fishing than I was untangling snarls. I became a bluegill's worst enemy and an expert on how to untangle just about anything...involuntary practice, practice, and more practice.
This small lake was full of these critters and there were times when we filled a gunny sack with them to take back to the house and spend the rest of an evening cleaning them and having a fish fry! We usually had more than we could eat at one meal so Dad got the idea to take along a bucket or two and we would put the fish in those buckets along with some water and when we got back to the ranch we would dump them in the horse's water trough in the corral where they would live and then over the next few days we would scoop out enough fish for a meal until they were gone and then we could go fishing again. My Dad was a stickler for eating what we caught before we went fishing again.
Fishing with S & H Green Stamps got me started and even though S & H has come and gone, I'm still fishing...and on occasion, untangling snarls.