When I was little, getting the mail was a big deal. And I’m a little sad that that’s coming to an end.
This is probably a foreign concept to my kids, but, back in those days, you rushed to the mailbox. The mailbox was a Pandora’s box of dreams come true. You never knew when you’d receive a letter, or a postcard from a more adventurous relative. Maybe birthday money. Or the hopes that were contained inside the Publisher’s Clearinghouse envelope, the one promising you 6 million dollars.
Magazines were big for me, too. Field and Stream and Florida Wildlife and Sports Illustrated* and Florida Sportsman all showed up on some sort of interval, bringing a sort of mini-Christmas with them.
*It was very important, come February, to beat your Southern Baptist mother to the mailbox for your date with Kathy Ireland, otherwise the swimsuit issue would land in the garbage.
But, for me, the highlight of the mail run was the catalogs. Remember, this is 10 plus years before Amazon would become a mainstream word. There was just something so thrilling about opening the mailbox and seeing the latest from JC Penney, or Sears. Or, the greatest of all, the outdoor companies . . .
Cabela’s and Gander Mountain were standard affairs . . . I’d circle and fold all of the things I knew a 13 year old Florida boy needed – an 8 person tent, a sleeping bag that would warm to -60 below, knee high snake boots. Canada goose decoys and pronghorn antelope calls and snow colored camo and bear repellant. Dog training aids and lamps with bobwhites mounted under glass and pheasant pelts were must haves.
Clicking it into a higher gear were Orvis, and LL Bean, and Dunn’s. Only a true gentleman would hunt woodcock with a side by side Greener, while wearing a wool vest over a houndstooth shirt. Sure, that Browning Citori would cost more than my college degree, but the knowing looks from the gentlemen I hunted with would surely be worth more in social currency. A Billy Pate fly reel would surely catch handsomer fish . . .
I’d sing from the heaven’s, if, come Christmas morning I unwrapped a watch with a greenhead on it, or a vintage ammo sign, or a plaid shirt color matched to a grouse . . . anything that came from those tattered pages . . .
I only think about this now, in this age of 24/7 online availability. In fact, I can buy 3 or 4 Greener’s right now on Gunbroker, and have them before the end of quail season. I debate about whether I need a different shade of camoflauge on my jacket, or whether or not the 7 1/2’s pattern better in one of my guns than the 8’s do . . . about which hats to wear duck hunting vs dove hunting vs turkey hunting . . . about sealed bearing drags vs traditional drag systems . . . lures that walk in circles vs hooks sharpened by moon rocks and lasers . . . I can guarantee, that at this very moment, I have carts with items waiting to be bought at Bass Pro, and Cabelas, and Mack’s Prairie Wings, just begging for the “checkout” button to be clicked.
And it makes me think about the simplicity of a boy that just wanted to be outside, circling dreams in a catalog as place holders for ducks he’d one day shoot, and fish he’d one day chase . . .