where hobbies, hijinks, and capers go bad = my childhood #2


another day, another hobby.

in the late 60s

this was a book that i longed to own

i loved to get mail and loved to get free things

what could go wrong?

i used my saved-up coins to send in for the book

and could not wait to begin using it

i read it from cover to cover

marking pages, checking off favorites

 began writing notes, stuffing envelopes, and ordering things

using stamps that i found in a junk drawer

before i knew it i had a small collection of

weird government brochures, lists of tips, tables, charts, and recipes

none of which were really of any use to me

but i didn’t care what any of it was

as long as it came in the mail and it was free

my pile grew and grew

until it didn’t

when once again

i realized that i had no income

had used all of my money to buy the book

and had no way

to buy any more of the stamps

that i needed

to send in my requests

to get free things.

what i really needed were unlimited free books of stamps

and it was on to the next ill-fated hobby for me…

“sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.” 

-albert einstein


40 responses »

  1. I remember when I was really young my Mom sent off to the tourism boards of all fifty states for whatever free travel stuff they wanted to send us. I remember we were up to about 41 or 42 states before the free packets stopped coming in the mail. I can’t remember which states burned us, but we had a nice collection and kept them all in a box. I wish it hadn’t got lost to time…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That made me smile. A million years ago when I was at school, a friend of mine had the hobby of writing off for any free offering: shampoo was one I remember and a host of other items. The school had an upmarket address which turned out to be relevant because he wrote off to a very expensive car manufacturer for his free test drive, and obviously, seeing the address they drove some miles to honour their promise.

    We were eleven at the time, and the teachers were not all that amused as far as I recall, when a gleaming Bentley turned up and the driver asked for “Mr Patten, presuming he owned the building where we were!!

    I remember the headmaster went and got my friend from the playground where we happened to be at the time, and escorted him to the bemused driver saying, “Here is your customer.” I can’t remember what happened net, but I was as amused as hell 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was always so tempted by the ads in comic books to sell things–they made it seem like I would be rolling in the dough very quickly. I never gave in to the temptation–I was cynical even then, but I always studied those ads very seriously. I remember some were various products, some were seeds and some were greeting cards.


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