Well, the weekend derailed my initial plans, but I'll get three up today, I swear!
As I have mentioned in numerous places at various times, I started gaming with Gamma World on Christmas morning, 1981, when I ran my cousins through a horrible adventure of my own devising. Fortunately, I soon discovered the greatest module of all time, Gary's GW1 The Legion of Gold. As far as D&D is concerned, it was only a couple of weeks later that I got to it. A friend had managed to score the D&D Basic set (Moldvay) for Christmas.
Now, I had been aware of D&D for several years by this point, actually. The Kroger's grocery store carried the Holmes set on its toy/game aisle. I had seen and flipped through the 1st edition AD&D hardcovers at Waldenbooks in the mall. But the closest I could come to D&D was to convince my aunt that Gamma World was REALLY what I wanted for Christmas.
A few things that I remember after 32 years. The copy of the rules was misprinted. There was a double sheet of the equipment and we were somehow missing the page that told how to read the funny dice. The d4 threw us for a loop. I remember my magic-user had stabbed something with his dagger and I threw the d4:
Me: Well, which number is it?
GM: The one on the bottom?
Me: Um, 1-2-4, uh, 7?
Everybody was using daggers as their weapon of choice for several weeks after that until an 8th grader corrected us.
Ah, that's another good memory. Several of our parents were against this deviltry, so lots of games took place at school during lunch, on trips to football games, and at all-day track meets in the stands. Having a "sleep-over" or the rare camping trip was great because we could game all weekend!
As I've mentioned before, we had no real concept of edition. We were playing a mishmash of Classic, Holmes, B/X, AD&D, even BECMI after it came out. We had no clue as to how it fit together "correctly." The "Mutants and Magic" section of the DMG was discovered and widely used; my mutant lion even ended up in B2 and started wasting people in the keep with his blaster pistol! We knew there were "other games" and the DQ crit table made it in our games for a bit.
What sticks out most in my memory is that we had fun. I think people nerd rage too much these days and try to make the game all serious by emulating Tolkien a bit too much. It's a game; it's meant to be fun. I have strayed from that dictum myself at times but, in the end, I always return to where I started.