One of the last Atari consoles I would obtain by miracle, if not by accident. It was Christmas 1994. I was living with my Grandmother to help take care of her and taking Computer Science classes at the local community college. My Mother lived with her new husband in a town 2 hours away. I would visit her on weekends.
On one cold November day my Grandmother asked me what I would like to have for Christmas. I really didn't know because I had not thought of anything. Was there anything I needed for my car? Nope...couldn't think of anything (I had a '79 Monte Carlo with T-Tops at the time). I didn't need anything for college. So, I walked down the hill, three blocks away, from where we lived and paid the old Radio Shack that was once there a visit. https://www.google.c...0cf465ad78e!3e0
(I'm providing a map so the distance can be seen.)
I looked in the store for anything. Nothing of particular interest. I asked about any video games and they pointed to the large catalog they had bolted to the counter. I flipped through it. Nintendo, Sega, Atari...Atari?!? I flipped to the Atari section. I seen the 2600 stuff and some 7800 stuff. They still had 5200 items as well but no 5200 consoles so I passed on those. On the next page, in bold lettering, was "Atari Jaguar". That ad I got in the mail during the summer immediately came to mind. "Raw 64-bit Power!"..."Do The Math!" For $225 you could get a console with A/V cables, two controllers, and two games called "Cybermorph" and "Iron Soldier". I wrote it down and ran, back up the hill (seriously, this hill is murder at any age if you have to even walk up it).
Huffing and puffing I went into the bedroom, shuffled through one of the nightstand drawers beside the bed, and pulled out the ad we held on to. I immediately showed Granny the ad. "What's this dear?" Sometimes I forgot that my Grandmother was legally blind even if after surgery she could see colors and outlines...but was still blind. I told about the Atari console in the ad. She goes, "Is that what you want?" I gave an excited yes and said I wrote it down if you would like to get it when I'm not here. She handed me her Radio Shack credit card and sent me back down the hill. She didn't want others to know what she was doing (bless her heart). She never did. They would know after I unwrapped it but by then why bother. Granny spoiled me every chance she got and the rest of family never understood it. Heck...I never understood it but I didn't complain.
So, I placed the order. Radio Shack called my Grandmother for her approval for me to use the card. They were family friends but still needed authorization for using cards by people other than whose name was on the card. Order placed, I went back home and looked through the ad. "Did they have more games?" I told her I didn't look and I didn't want her to get any more until we knew for certain just how good the "Atari Jaguar" was going to be.
After a while we both sort of forgot about the order. Her Radio Shack bill didn't come in before the holidays because it was one of those no payments for a few days sales pitch. We got a call one Saturday. "We have your order", they said to my Grandmother. She sent me to retrieve it. I almost forgot what it was. When I got home she told me to open it and make sure everything was there. The system, extra controller, A/V cable, and one game, Iron Soldier, was in the box. Where was the other game? The system box didn't say anything about a game inside. So we opened it. Cybermorph was there so both games present.
"Well, since it's opened you might as well try it out. Just make sure you can make it look like it wasn't opened later." Granny said. I laughed. Hooked up to her RCA Hi-Fi 27" console TV that swiveled the Jaguar showed its stuff. Cybermorph came first. I played around and explored the game a bit. Eh...not too bad. That was my first impression. Then I popped in Iron Soldier. I wasn't suppose to open that one...opps. I sat for two or three hours with that game. Then I had to pack it all back up and place it in the bedroom closet to be wrapped up before Christmas. You know how hard it was to know that a game machine was in that closet and I couldn't play it until Christmas Eve? I tried playing the Genesis and SuperNES I had and they just didn't cut it anymore. There were a few times at night after she went to sleep with her TV on and blaring (an every night thing) where I would drag it out and play for a little bit then put it up. I know...I was bad.
Christmas Eve came and it was time to unwrap the Jaguar. Finally! But...I had to save it for last. First gifts were the usual: a new sweatsuit, some new pants, socks, and shirts, and a few new movies of Disney favors. Then came the Jaguar. I couldn't be happier! Or so I thought. Another surprise package came from my Aunt. In a box usually for clothes was some more games for the system. They had found a few in Springfield's Battlefield Mall on clearance and grabbed a few. While there was no Tempest 2000 there was I*War, Syndicate, and Wolfenstein 3D. I was set for one helluva winter!
The Jaguar left an impression that year in such a way that I was glad to have taken a chance on it. The family members involved to this point in Christmas gifts to me I no longer have. I don't think they ever knew just how much I appreciated all those Christmases I had with them...and all the other times I spent with them as well and not just around the holidays. They knew what I enjoyed the most and went out of their way to fill that hobby. I didn't have to ask and in some ways it felt like that was their way of rewarding me for what I was doing from my Grandmother, who I had been helping take care of since I was 10 years old. Granny enjoyed the games as much as she could with the colors and sounds...and it would often times place her mind at ease so much that she would go to sleep on me (haha).
They don't make family members like that much any more, and it seems like the holidays are nothing like what they use to be. Just like my family members the Jaguar will forever hold a place in my memories that will not be forgotten. I was fortunate enough to have another Jaguar, after decades of being without one, land in my living room and when I seen it I sat there and held the machine for what seemed like a long time admiring the design and immediately shed a few tears when memories of that Christmas Eve started playing back in my mind.
It took me a long time to understand why I have such a heart for these game machines. They are nothing more than plastic and computer electronics. They entertain...that's all they do. But I realized that every machine, mostly Atari machines, I ever had gave a connection to the love of family that loved me more than anything else in the world. And that's why all my game machines, including the Jaguar, continue to play an important role in my life.