Five dollar fill-ups and grocery store gems!

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Five dollar fill-ups and grocery store gems!

I filled up the car the other day and after handing over the $80, I drove off wondering, where went the days when you got something at a gas station (other than gas) just for showing up? You know a freebie.

Yard sales today are usually laden with those cheap juice glasses that used to be handed out when you filled up. Check your cottage shelves as well you are sure to find some. It was a little hook that brought you back the next time.

I was 10 in 1970 and remember going with Dad to the local Esso station where a $5 fill up (that's correct $5) allowed you to receive a few booklets of the 1970-71 Esso Power Players - small stamp size stickers of NHL stars that you could put in an album.

The Food Stores then got in on the act too and in 1975, had their own album giving out new stickers every week until you completed the set. Every time I look at my albums I jump right back into an episode of that seventies show.

There is no doubt that most of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about and have already said to yourselves: "I remember those and I wish mom had not thrown them out after I left home."

So, I decided to have another look at these sticker albums and found a few interesting items that deserve attention after all these years. It was a few years after expansion and the Esso Power Players album includes the new teams. Their logos are what draw you to the pages. Bright and colorful.

The California Golden Seals are always fun to look at. Gary "suitcase" Smith is the goalie. Vancouver had just entered the NHL and their great original "blue and green shall never be seen" look jumps off the pages. Pat Quinn looks as intimidating all those years ago as he did a few years back.

Then there are the stars. Orr, Beliveau, Hull, Howe, Esposito, each with their own stamp that pull in high prices on the sports collectibles market even to this day. The mid-seventies was the end of the Flyers "Broad Street Bullies" reign and the NHL Action players' album of 1975 has a nice story on the Flyers to start. My favourite part is the Atlanta Flames pages. That had to be one of the best "simple" logos of all time.

The CFL even had an album in 1971. Known as Eddie Sergeant stickers, they were given out 14 to a strip at the local IGA. I did not have to wait very long, as in week 2 of the 16 week promotion a certain Rough Rider tackle's sticker came out.

I am very guilty about reminiscing about the simple times of yesteryear - this being another example. There are two things that stand out about having these albums: the ability to open a page and almost remember getting the stamps in the first place and being able to look forward to getting my Dad's sticker or football card all those years.

Looking over the Rough Riders stickers, the faces of my heroes stare back as though it was yesterday. Rick Cassatta, the wild Riders QB who's free spirit was just what an 11-year-old could look up too. Then, a smiling Wayne Smith who was always nice to me, but he and my Dad were fierce rivals.

Some of the photo's (all taken at Landsdown Park) put me back there like it was yesterday. In Marshall Shirks picture the tall Poplar tree's that line the Rideau Canal and formed the backdrop of the practice field bring back a memory of chasing balls when I was lucky enough to go to practice. Alexandria's Ivan MacMillan's sticker shows a corner of the North Side grandstand where the more reserved fans sat.

After 35 years they have stood the test of time. It's a time that I can travel back to every now and then knowing that these stickers are much rarer than the typical hockey or football cards.

And to think all this came from daydreaming after forking over $80 for gas!

Organizations: Esso, NHL, Flyers Atlanta Flames IGA North Side

Geographic location: Vancouver, Hull, Landsdown Park Alexandria

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