Maybe Sears Can Call the A-Team

For most of today it appeared that Sears (and thus K-Mart) would begin liquidation as the over hundred year old company fades into memory. It appears there’s still a bit of life in the corpse as Roebuck hangs on for a few more weeks, until the next court date arrives.

This caused me to think if there were any memories I could be sure were from 1983.  My family did not yet have a VCR, and the Sears Wish Book is not easily at hand (although I hope to rectify that). My answer came from the hit TV show that debuted in 1983 and introduced an 80’s icon to the world:  The A-Team.

The A-Team was a perfect show for a kid.  Hannibal as the older leader who always had a plan. Face making sarcastic remarks that I knew were funny even though I didn’t understand the jokes. Murdoch as ridiculously crazy. Finally the star, Mr. T, as the super hero level muscle. He wasn’t the Hulk, but every kid knew he was B.A.  Bad Attitude of course, but I suspect the adults of the mid 1980’s knew it stood for Bad Ass.

I probably watched every episode over my childhood, but I couldn’t give you any details. Not that it mattered. The Team gets the call to help with trouble, gets wrapped up in that trouble themselves, then fights their way out of said trouble while cars flip over in explosions and no one dies. Other than the final season when they were on trial (for a crime they didn’t commit!) it doesn’t matter when the episode aired. It’s a lot like the current Law & Order phenomenon in that it’s on so many channels for most of the day. Fans can turn it on and enjoy at any point. The little character development that takes place is unnecessary for the plot and often forgettable. It’s meant to be enjoyed within the hour and forgotten after. It’s fast food for the eyes.

Either by coincidence or my love of the show was more verbal than I realized, the A-Team arrived for Christmas. In all their 3 and 3/4 inch size and GI Joe inspired four pack glory. And I Was. Not. Grateful.  It upsets me to this day. So much so that 35 years later it is one of the few things I’ve ever owned that I know for a certainty came from Sears.

Back in 1983 Sears was still located downtown in it’s own building. The local mall wasn’t built until 1986 with Sears as one of the anchor stores. I have quick memories of my mom taking my brother and I shopping at this Sears store and one of the highlights was saying hello to our great uncle who worked there. I’m not going to even try to guess all of his duties at that time, because working in retail is rarely guaranteed to keep any employee in their official spot. In my childhood mind, he was the store. Every employee knew him and looked up to him. Customers would come in for years to seek out his assistance. There were men and women throughout the town who would say they had to run errands and go talk to their Sears guy. I’m not saying that any of this is true but in my mind every big store was immaculate with well trained helpful employees like Miracle on 34th Street. Just like Macy’s had an air of magic in that movie, my uncle worked in the house where the Wish Book was made and had access to all that lay therein. Like Santa Claus with a catalog.

He would surprise us yearly with a Christmas present which I always assumed was from Sears even though I have no memory of a dedicated toy section in the store. One year that gift was the previously mentioned four pack of the A-Team.

But it wasn’t a GI Joe. They looked like GI Joe’s and were based on something I liked to watch. At the time though I must have wanted Snake Eyes or Cobra Commander or someone else and like most five year old’s who are self centered and full of want I did not appreciate the gift. This is what I think of any time my son asks for “more” and why we try so hard to teach him to be thankful for any toy, book, clothing or anything else that he gets from anyone. Which my mother did too and did a great job with her sons. However, a five year old is a five year old no matter how good the teachings are.

My brother and I used these figures as fodder for the battle between Joe and Cobra. We stretched those rubber O rings to their limits and then some. Eventually they broke and were no more. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed these toys. Long before the internet though there was no easy way to find replacements for them and thus they were forever out of our lives.

I wanted the thing that was more popular.  The thing with more commercials and more flash. I had a toy that was equal in every way but because it didn’t have a Saturday morning cartoon and advertising everywhere I viewed it as lesser. Only when it was gone did I realize how much I enjoyed it.  How many great memories I have of it.  How special it was to me.

Much like Sears itself.


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