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CHRIS TRAINOR


If you wait long enough, just about everything comes back around.

Even if it’s just a mini version of the thing you remembered.

As I’m sure some of you are aware, especially seeing as how Christmas shopping formally kicked off in the last couple days, one of the hottest gift items this holiday season is the Nintendo Classic Mini NES video game system, which is literally a miniature version of the Nintendo system that was immensely popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It even comes loaded with 30 classic games.

The retro gaming consoles have been flying off the shelves at a breakneck pace. Perhaps the only hotter item for kids this season has been the Hatchimal, which is apparently some kid of animatronic thing that hatches out of an egg.

I was unaware of the fervor the Hatchimals have caused, until my daughter told my wife and sister-in-law that she wanted one for Christmas and they both reacted as if she told them she wanted all the gold in Fort Knox. Apparently Jimmy Hoffa will be found before we’ll find a Hatchimal.

But I am hoping to find one of the mini Nintendo systems for my daughter. And by “for my daughter” I mean, of course, “for me.”

If you are of a certain age, chances are the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was an indelible part of your childhood. Even if you didn’t have one, you had a friend who did, and you likely spent hours trying to rescue the princess on “Super Mario Brothers,” take out Mike Tyson on “Mike Tyson’s Punch-out,” or make it to the end of “Contra” with the help of that special code that gave you 30 lives. (Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A start. When I’m an old man slipping away on my deathbed, I’ll still remember that code.)

For a time when I was a kid, getting my hands on an NES was the foremost goal of my life. I had to have one. If you’ve ever seen “A Christmas Story” (and, if you are a human being with a pulse and functioning eyeballs, you undoubtedly have seen it) you are familiar with Ralphie’s ravenous pursuit of a Red Ryder BB gun. That was how I felt about the Nintendo in the late 1980s.

Rather than just buy me an NES, my mom and dad wanted me to earn it and save my own money for it. It cost about $100, which, to a 10-year-old kid in 1988 sounded like $846,973,107. But, I set about trying to save up the money. I cut grass, raked leaves, washed cars and did every odd job I could come up with. I made up jobs to do. I think I even organized pecans. If there was an errand I thought someone would give me a couple dollars to do, I did it.

When I finally saved up enough cash, my mom took me to Sky City in Abbeville got get my Nintendo. If you are too young to remember Sky City, I pity you. It was sort of like Walmart, if Walmart was the greatest place in the entire world.

Seemingly every small Southern town had a Sky City. Abbeville had one. So did Greenwood. They are long gone now, but are still used for directional purposes. As in, “Make a left where Sky City used to be.”

When I finally got my Nintendo home, I had to have a TV to play it on, since there was no way my parents were letting me hook it up to our living room set. So, my grandma gave me an old TV of hers to put in my bedroom. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this TV weighed roughly as much as a Buick LeSabre. It also had about the same picture quality as a Buick LeSabre. It would frequently go out and we would have to bang the absolute hell out of the side of it to get it to come back on.

But, when the old TV was working, I had a blast playing that Nintendo. And I wasn’t the only one. My dad got hooked on it, to the point that he would lock me out of my own room so he could play “Super Mario” in peace. In a recent conversation about the old days, he admitted his old Nintendo addiction and referred to leaving it behind as “going cold turkey.”

So, yeah, I plan on tracking down a mini Nintendo this holiday season, even if they are proving to be exceptionally hard to find.

If Sky City was still around, I bet they’d have one.

Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter@ChrisTrainorSC. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.