Was thinking if I could just flash back to 1977 or even 1984 so I could stop by a Radio Shack and pickup some tubes.

The 1977 catalog had 12AX7A for $2.13each and 6L6GC for 11.98each in 1984. Oh man and I picked on them so bad back them. Now I wish I had one of their old Tube testers that I use to torment when I was younger.

Old Rad-Shack catalogs
Radio Shack is kaput at this point so i'm sure they wish they could go back in time to . but yeah tubes were much cheaper and you could still find US made ones as well. my first tube amp was a Lafeyette (competitor to RS) but that was back in the late 70s (amp i got used and i guess it was actually built by Univox).
Once upon a time, when transistors were considered "high tech" and phones still had dials, the electronic shops couldn't give vacuum tubes away. There were all sorts of U.S.A.-made tubes sitting on their shelves at giveaway prices that guitarists would kill for today. Rooting through their "old stock" was great fun. Some of them had European tubes as well: you could find a matched set of Telefunkens selling for less than a six-pack of beer.

Oh, the things we once had and took for granted, and now have no more!

"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley