Desert Storm Nostalgia
Going through old boxes of stuff can be an adventure into the past. Things long forgotten suddenly drag you back, against your will I might add, into memories of days long gone.
Well, I did a little of that a week ago. My brother was home, so he pulled out some boxed up nostalgia from when we were kids. He discovered some amazing treasures. Among them were these babies. That’s right, Operation Desert Storm trading cards, complete with all of your favorite Cold War personalities.
The cards were originally produced to support military families. When Top Gun came out in 1986, the Navy’s recruiting skyrocketed. Maybe this was also an attempt to piggyback on the successes of baseball cards and recruit a few new soldiers along the way.
Here are some of my favorites:
Stormin’ Norman. Does anyone even remember him? I guess back then he was some kind of superstar, like the Ken Griffey of the US Army.
Naturally, they’ve got to have a file on Islam. But then again, this was back when Islam wasn’t an issue to most Americans.
But, in all fairness, they’ve got a file on Christianity too.
Oh yeah, and one of the more important issues of the war.
The journalism card. How exciting. Wait a second. This is starting to sound educational. And what is that thing in the picture? When was the last time you saw a cassette tape of any kind?
This is one of my favorites. It looks like a few Marines having a casual conversation about right angles at the flag pole.
“Hey Frank, hey Jim, whacha talkin’ bout?”
“Hey Todd, I was just telling Jim how much I enjoy geometric shapes.”
“Oh yeah, which one’s your favorite?”
“I’m kind of torn between squares and rectangles. The square is so pure, but rectangles are kinda sassy, don’t ya think?”
“Totally. What about you Jim?”
“I like circles.”
“Jim, that’s ridiculous, you need to stop hanging out with the Navy guys when we’re underway.”
Surival. Best card ever. A vest complete with flashlight, matches, and some paper things to burn when it gets cold. Also, the paper materials can be used as toilet paper or as light reading before bed.
You can camouflage your face, but you can’t camouflage fear.
Um. That’s not the phonetic alphabet. I’m pretty sure that’s a TOW Missile launcher, but ok, whatever makes the alphabet more exciting. And check out that huge ’90s cell phone.
“No, I never understood Shakespeare. I always thought Romeo and Juliet was pretty stupid…. Sorry Mike, I can’t understand you. Don’t you hear the echo? Cell phone reception in Iraq really sucks, and I’m not at the hotel right now. Anyway, I’ll talk to you when I get home in November. Say hi to Charlie, Victor and Oscar for me. Maybe when I get home we can finally take that trip to India we’ve been talking about. Tell my papa thanks for the whiskey, I owe him a round of golf for that one. What? I think, yeah, I lost… I’m switching to Verizon.”
The pledge of allegiance card? I’m sure Stormin’ Norman gold cards were had a 3:1 exchange rate for this one on playgrounds all over the US back in the day. I’m just lucky I got my hands on one I guess.
Dick Cheney rookie card!! I wonder how much this is worth now?
Yes, I know, I’m really lucky to have this one. Though I was born in the Reagan era, my earliest memories of a US president were of this guy.
That’s right, Colin Powell. And no, I won’t trade him even if you give me 4 Pledge of Allegiance cards. If this were one of those trading/playing card games like Pokemon I bet he’d kick the crap out of any other card out there. Thankfully, we didn’t have that crap when I was a kid. These predate pogs.
What card set from this era could be complete with out the classic rivals. Before we had terrorists, we had communists. Though a picture of an Orthodox cathedral represents Russia in many American minds, if the photographer turned 90 degrees to the right a picture of the Kremlin may have better represented the USSR. The only problem is that most Americans probably have no clue what the Kremlin is.
The notorious Mickey G. Archenemy of the free world. Ok, that’s not really fair, he and Reagan did quite a bit to bridge the gap between the USSR and the US. I still think he looks like a James Bond super villain. It’s probably the spot on his head. As a child I imagined it as being in the shape of the USSR or something cool like that, but thus far I’ve found no significant shape to compare it with.
In addition to all of these classic cold warriors I’m the proud owner of a Margaret Thatcher card. She’s like the Xena of the cold war, but to my knowledge she never had one of those killer throwing ring thingies. If she did, I’m convinced the cold war would have been a lot shorter. And colder.
Glamour shot with the hazy glow. So 90s. Lets hope those never make a comeback in modern photography. That’s what I call animal cruelty.
Gotta save the best for last. This is my personal favorite. Just like the Public Service Announcements they would put at the end of GI Joe episodes.
“Dude, the colors. Sooo colorful. Gotta, take a, knee. Whoa, you see that? Like, a giant blurry butterfly just flew over my head. Went that way.”
For those of you not fortunate enough to grow up on GI Joe or PSA’s: