O.K., let's try this. How much free crapola has SI sent you over 50 years? Must fill a Tuff Shed, right? Zippo, they all said. "Nope," says Helfrich. "Nothing at all."
No sneaker phone? No football phone? No NFL hoodie, no football follies video, no boxer shorts, none of the other 300plus items we've doled out to new subscribers?
"Nope, not that I can remember," said Ed Streeter, 74, of Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.
(Then it hit me: The key word here is new. Why would they give free binoculars to old subscribers?)
Still, for most of the Forgetful Faithful, the magazine seems to be enough. "If there's some way you can subscribe for life, I'll do it," said Gowans.
"It's like a good friend," said Helfrich. "I know it'll come the same time each week, and I'll enjoy it."
Then why have most of them thrown away every issue? One very good reason: wives.
"I have a happy marriage," said Bill Hickson of Lynchburg, Va., who's been at it 55 years, "and to keep my marriage happy, I had to get rid of them."
Matthew Chew, 72, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is one member of the Faithful who's held fast. He's got every single issue--protected in plastic slipcovers and stacked, in order, neatly on bookshelves in his living room. "There were four or five over the 50 years that didn't come for one reason or another," he said, "but I always managed to go to my dentist and take them from him."