Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Little Maudlin Nostalgia...

A while back I wrote a blog detailing my penchant for collecting old and largely-worthless fishing tackle from the seventies and early eighties, explaining that...

"I have a special interest in vintage tackle and ads from the seventies and eighties because well, that's when I came of age. I'm constantly cruising the pawn shops and little small-town hardware stores for the tackle that time forgot. Old rods, reels, tackle and tackle boxes: it's amazing what's still out there sitting on store shelves. Whether it's pawn shops or some old ramshackle small-town bait store, I'm always on the prowl...old tackle from the seventies is like drinking an ice-cold coke made with real sugar out of a glass bottle with a bunch of salty peanuts in it, a delicious and fleeting evocation of a time and place you can't get back to."

And one of the places I most often frequented back in the age of sideburns and polyester was the venerable and ubiquitous chain of Oklahoma-based auto supply stores known as OTASCO. Like most typical Main Street-based auto parts-hardware-variety stores of yore (think Western Auto, Montgomery Ward's, TG&Y, Sears, etc...) OTASCO carried a full line of sporting goods.

My first bicycle came from OTASCO (a Flying O, remember them?) My first .22 came from OTASCO (a Winchester 190) and in all likelihood my first fishing pole came from OTASCO, though I was far too young to remember. OTASCO sold a surprising variety of fishing and hunting equipment, and the downtown Norman store was, along with the TG&Y just down the street, one of the icons of my childhood. If I had a nickel for every cardboard tube of Daisy BBs I purchased from that store...

But eventually, inevitably, OTASCO went the way of virtually every other sporting-goods retailer of that era. Some, like Sears, stopped selling hunting and fishing gear altogether (every time I walk into a Sears today I want to cry) while others, like TG&Y (damn how I loved that place) and OTASCO slowly closed stores until they disappeared. I can't remember exactly when the central Oklahoma stores closed. I do remember buying shotgun shells at the Noble, Oklahoma OTASCO up until sometime around the mid to late eighties, but by the end of the decade OTASCO was done for.

I hadn't thought about OTASCO in years, but yesterday I was perusing the Fishing For History blog and what did I see as this week's installment of the blog's excellent series "52 Trade Houses in 52 Weeks" but a very interesting history of the Oklahoma Tire and Supply Co., which is, of course, OTASCO.

Cool stuff, and an interesting read if you grew up anywhere near one of OTASCO's 455 stores scattered across 12 states. After reading it I immediately went and rummaged through some of my old junk. A cursory search didn't reveal any OTASCO-branded tackle (though I think I do have some lying around somewhere) or hunting gear (although I'm pretty sure I've got a few old shotgun shell boxes with OTASCO price stickers on them, again, somewhere...) but I did manage to come up with this:

Back in the day (early to mid-eighties, maybe?) that was the largest (1500 count) box of Daisy BBs you could buy (at least that I'm aware) and I went through a ton of them. I almost certainly purchased this box (and another I still have) from the Norman OTASCO when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. I have no idea why I still have it, but I sure wish I still had the old-school, wood-stocked Crosman 760 through which I shot all my BBs back then. Which was bought at...OTASCO.

Ahhh, good times...


  1. Ahh A little nostalgia, reenacting old times, can be a lot of fun


  2. Enjoyed this blog very much....I know the fishing tackle/gun buyer during that time very well and will forward this blog to him...he will get a kick out of it

  3. If it weren't for Craftsman hand tools I'd never darken the door of a Sears any more. I picked up most of my tackle at a department store called Roses which has completely disappeared from South Carolina.

  4. Man, that box of BBs brings back memories... as well as the image of the tubes. How many of those things did I go through? Most of mine went through a Red Ryder instead of a Crosman.

    Mark, we had Roses stores in NC too, and they were always a great place to pick up BBs, arrows, and to drool over the guns back behind the counter.

  5. a Remington Nylon 66 there, and a Savage Model 67 pump 20 ga. shotgun, a couple of baseball gloves, our first color TV, tires for the station wagon.

    Busted my head open on the display window outside of Goodno's Jewelers.

    Got my back to school jeans at Anthony's (although I was sure Wackers was a much cooler place to shop given their cowboy boot selection) and my back to school shoes at Oliver's.

    Used to walk down to my dad's bank on Saturdays to get money for a movie at the Sooner Theater.

    Walked home afterwards with a stop along the railroad tracks and the ditch through Andrews Park.

    It was good growing up in Norman!