Christmas 1982 and my Red Ryder Surprise Gift
Like so many fortunate kids of the era, my older brother and I got an Atari 2600 for the Christmas of 1981. Throughout 1982, we burned that sixer up playing the typical classics such as Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Adventure along with many other popular titles from that time. Some time in the summer or fall of 1982 I started catching commercials for the Colecovision and when I saw the elevator level from Donkey Kong on the TV screen I immediately fell in love and knew I had to have one.
What can I say, when I saw the Colecovision games on the TV commercial the 2600 just that quickly seemed archaic by comparison. My parents however made it very clear that the 2600 they gave us wasn't cheap and that there was no way in hell they were going to invest hard-earned income into an even more expensive home gaming console. Be happy you have an Atari because most kids don't they said. And unfortunately, at that point in time, they were pretty much correct.
It is also worth noting that my parents as with many of the baby boomers from there generation just never GOT playing video games. It would drive them nuts when I would spend my allowance or birthday money at Alladin's Castle. My Father especially frowned upon the whole videogame fad as he called it. I was raised in the south where we don't push button we MASH buttons. That became my old-mans definition of gaming. He is in the other room mashin buttons he would say.
Anyway, my hopes of getting a Colecovision were pretty much in the crapper as Christmas of 1982 approached. Then sometime during the Christmas Holidays after school was out I came home one day and my older brother informed me that the 2600 had broken and that Mom had taken it to town to find out what was wrong with it. That evening I told them that we should just upgrade to the Colecovision! My Mom just rolled her eyes at me. It was hopeless.
They then proceeded to tell me that even if they would buy one that you couldn't get them anywhere! Sure enough on the national news, a report came on about the huge demand for the system. It even showed the assembly line with the employees putting the systems together and said they were doing everything possible to try to keep up with the demand. It seemed that securing the rights to Donkey Kong had created a major impact on that very demand.
When Christmas Eve came around I went to bed and to be honest I don't even remember what else I even wanted for Christmas??? Around 6 AM I decided to roll out and see what was under the tree. HOLY SHITBALLS!!! A shiny new Colecovision in all its glory! And to top it off the 2600 adapter so I could still play 2600 games! I was so surprised and overjoyed! I hugged my folks and they told me how sorry they were that they didn't get any Coleco games to go with it. It, of course, came with Donkey Kong but they went through hell and high water just finding the system itself.
I don't know exactly when they decided to cave to my infatuation with the ColecoVision but here is how the plot unfolded. It turned out that one of Fathers best friends that he deer hunted with son wanted an Atari 2600 for Christmas. My older brother who really wasn't into gaming to the degree that I was came through and told my folks that they could sell our 2600 to them for a discount and in turn put that money toward a new Colecovision. Presto! The deal for the 2600 was made and this was when I was informed that the 2600 had quit working and had to be taken in for service.
It was only after they made the deal and sold the Atari that they then realized that they couldn't find a ColecoVision anywhere! My Dad was a very successful State Farm agent and had been selling insurance in the same area for 20 years at that point. My Mom worked as his secretary in his office and it's safe to say they both knew a lot of people in and around where we lived. They told everybody they knew what they were looking for because all of the major retailers just didn't have any. Several times they got tips that Service Merchandise or Gaylords or Sears and many others had the systems but they struck out every time!
It was at that point that another State Farm agent contacted my Dad about a small Mom & Pop business that he had just written an insurance policy for called "The Home Video Game Club". This agent had sent his secretary down to this new client so she could take photographs of the building and of much of there existing inventory. He also told her specifically to find out if they sold and currently had any ColecoVision's in stock and if they did to call him immediately! They did and they only had a few units in stock! The agent informed my parents and they immediately locked the office in the middle of business hours and raced down to this new home videogame place!
They absolutely couldn't believe their luck when they got one from this place that was in an old two-story house that was way past needing a new coat of paint on the outside in downtown Montgomery! I will continue with part two of this story which covers my membership to "The Home Video Game Club" which was a blast until the crash brought everything to a halt. I'm telling you guys this was one glorious place for any 12-year-old videogame player to visit and I will explain why in the next segment. The picture you see is of me showing my Pop Donkey Kong on the ColecoVision.