Most families saved up their S&H Green Stamps for household appliances, furniture and the odd knickknack.
The Butchers of York Township saved for Disneyland. And they got there.
"Mother scrimped and saved to give us the family vacation of a lifetime," said Sandy Grove, who was about 13 when parents took her and her sisters to the Southwest in the early 1960s.
Those younger than 40 might not recognize an S&H Green Stamp if your grocer handed you a book of them.
But during the S&H zenith of the 1960s, thousands of shoppers saved Green Stamps, collecting them from gas stations, grocery stores and other retailers whenever they made a purchase.
Collectors could trade Green Stamps for merchandise at redemption centers. One center resided at the now-closed Bear's Department Store on the square.
S&H made money by selling the stamps to retailers. Stores gained customer loyalty with people returning to build their stash.
Dolores and husband W. Ray Butcher of York Township started saving stamps for Disneyland in the early '60s, after getting a newspaper clipping in the mail from a cousin.
The ad teased a "magic carpet" ride to Disneyland: Green Stamps for "deluxe, 15-ride ticket books." Dolores jumped at the chance.
"Our family thought the idea was hilarious, but they all contributed," said Dolores, now 80.
It took 39 books of stamps for the five Butchers -- Dolores and Ray and daughters Libby, Susan and Sandy -- to gain admission (each book holds 1,200 Green Stamps).
The family flew to Phoenix, stayed with relatives and borrowed their car to drive to various tourist attractions from Santa Fe, N.M., to Anaheim, Calif., to Juarez, Mexico.
"We were a blue-collar family, so you can imagine what a big deal it was to save enough money and Green Stamps so that we could take a three-week-long vacation to the West Coast," said Grove, the eldest Butcher daughter, now 61.
She recalls the vista of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, the expanse of the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and the "breath-taking glory" of the Grand Canyon.
She bought a silver onyx ring from a native woman selling jewelry in old town Santa Fe. She endured the long, dry drive through Arizona's Painted Desert with its petrified wood and multicolored badlands.
"Dad, the mechanic who could fix anything (and owned Square Deal Garage in Spry), kept the borrowed station wagon running smoothly as we drove and drove and drove," Grove said.
She remembers riding the sleek monorail at Disneyland, and her sisters recall the giant teacup ride.
The youngest, Libby Murray of Fairfax, Va., kept up with her parents and taller siblings during the trip, but walked so much in her canvas sneakers that she wore holes into her socks.
"I don't remember much from the trip, but I do remember S&H Green Stamps," Murray said.
"I remember the process: Learning to be patient, saving up and it would all pay off."
Other memories of S&H Green Stamps
In the early 1960s, many parents of deaf children in York and Lancaster counties gathered together to start collecting Green Stamps through Weis food stores and other stores. It was to buy a new bus to take students to Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. ...
The parents started carpooling this way in 1960. It cost the parents $5 roundtrip per child. The bus picked up kids from Dallastown, York, Columbia, Lancaster and Ephrata all the way to Philadelphia. ... The bus was so, so old.
Father had told me the new bus we purchased (in 1964) from Ohio and brought it back. It said on it, York City and County Deaf Children's Club bus. I graduated in 1969. The bus stopped running in maybe 1984 when the school closed.
-- The Rev. Henry Deller, 58, of Garden City, N.Y. (via interpreter)
Barbara Ford, 57, of Spring Garden Township
I grew up in western Pennsylvania in a small town called Somerset. Our family got Green Stamps from the gas station, pharmacy, even an upscale clothing store gave them to us. . . .
The only problem was we never stuck the stamps in the books 'til it was time to go to the redemption store. With the redemption store being in Johnstown, it was about an hour trip away. . . . We'd all furiously be licking stamps and putting them in the books on the way down to the redemption center in Johnstown. We'd all have green tongues. . . .
I didn't really know the Green Stamp business was still around. I was really surprised . . . to know it was digital. I'll have to check it out sometime. But I never remember seeing the sticky thing on the door, just like you can tell the credit card sticky things are on the doors now.
Peg Farrell of Dover Township
My story took place 35 years ago in Syracuse, N.Y. It was a Thursday, and I know it was Thursday because we were seated at the dinner table, and our middle son, Vincent, announced that he had won a pizza pie at Religious Ed that day.
I said, "Oh, that's wonderful. What did you do?"
He said, "I gave the nun 12 books of Green Stamps."
Now, you know that you don't get Green Stamps back from a sister. I ran to my closet and could not believe that my 12 books of Green Stamps were missing. Back then, you could buy an end table with Green Stamps for 15 books. I was saving for a matching one.
That's my story, and it's true. I wish I could forgive him today. Maybe some day, I'll get over it.
Shelby Wendt of Hellam Township
My husband worked at (munitions company) AMF between 1964 to 1967, and he was on what they called the bomb line, where they made bombs for the government. The more bombs you made, they gave you S&H Green Stamps.
So, it got to the point we were getting a lot of stamps. First, we got a sofa, a radio, then my husband decides, Wouldn't it be great if we could get a 'frigerator and stove?
We did save and save and save. I'm thinking it was 80 books for the stove and 100 for the 'frigerator. And we took them to Bear's Department Store in big shopping bags.
The woman looked and said, "Does someone work at AMF?" . . . It took four or five women -- they had to go through every book.
Wendy Shoemaker, 52, Manchester Township
When my husband, Ed, and I got married back in 1975, my mother-in-law, Betty, had many, many books she gave us to shop for things that were needed.
Then, over the years near a child's birthday or Christmas time when cash seemed to be a little short, she always seemed to have extra books that she just couldn't use or didn't need that she would give us to purchase gifts.
What a sweet mother-in-law I have to have helped us out without making us feel bad about being short on cash in our early years of marriage.
Joanne Arnold, 60, of York
In 1974, I was 25 years old and had a son who was 1-year-and-a-half. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in October, and the doctors told me if she had three months it would surprise them.
She was bedridden, and around November she told me to go get her S&H Green Stamps and to go buy my son a child's rocking chair with the Green Stamps for Christmas that year. My mother passed away December 8. I put the rocking chair under the tree.
I still have the rocker, and two beautiful grandchildren who live in Georgia. When they come to visit, they sit in daddy's rocking chair. That rocking chair brings me so many memories, and it all came from my mother's S&H Green Stamps.
Frequently asked questions
What were S&H Green Stamps?
Retailers bought Green Stamps from distributor S&H and gave them to customers as bonuses with every purchase.
Customers could save up their stamps and redeem them at a regional redemption center, trading stamps for merchandise such as household appliances, furniture, even life insurance policies.
S&H made money by selling the stamps to retailers. Stores gained customer loyalty because people returned to build up their stash of Green Stamps.
What does S&H stand for?
The stamp distributor, Sperry & Hutchinson, began offering Green Stamps in 1896.
I still have S&H Green Stamps. Are they worth anything?
Yes. You can exchange old Green Stamps for merchandise, cash or trade them in for Greenpoints, a digital version of the Green Stamps program. Green Stamps are converted to Greenpoints on a one-to-one ratio.
Mail stamps and order information to: S&H Solutions, ATTN: Green Stamps Processing Department, 1625 S. Congress Ave., Suite 200, Delray Beach, FL 33445.
Include your count of the stamps you're submitting, as well as your S&H member ID number (if you have one), plus your name, address and phone number. Stamps must be affixed to stamp books or to sheets of 8-by-11-inch paper.
What are Greenpoints? How do I enroll?
The company now offers S&H Greenpoints, a digital version of Green Stamps. Greenpoints can be earned online and at participating retail locations.
Where can I get a catalogue?
Call 800-435-5674 or visit www.greenpoints.com/catalog/cat_Use.asp.
S&H GreenPoints, www.greenpoints.com.
Follow S&H Greenpoints on Twitter at twitter.com/greenpoints.
About the series
The Remember series is a monthly feature that challenges readers to remember poignant moments in personal, local and national history. Read stories and listen to audio from the Remember series by visiting the Lifestyles section of inyork.com/ydr. and clicking on "Remember" in the special sections menu. So far this year we've looked at: