I have loved and despised so many stories over the years it is really hard to pick.
When did the Golden age of Spider-man end? Honestly, the Golden Age was over with the death of Gwen Stacy & Norman Osborn, before I ever started reading the title. As a kid, though, I would buy and read all of the Marvel Tales reprints and became familiar with characters like Betty Brant and the mysterious, never-seen Mary Jane Watson. The first back issue I ever bought was an issue with Mysterio that had all the classic villains on the cover. I didn't get the second part to that storyline until years later, but I remember feeling cheated that those characters weren't really in it, they were all just illusions. By contrast, the Marvel Tales actually had the full Sinister Six battling Spider-man in six great pin-up pages that I could rip out and tack on my wall without ruining a valuable collectible. I had the entire Ditko era of Spider-man in reprint form by the time I was 8 or 9. When I bought the death of Gwen Stacy, though, it almost felt like the story of Spider-man was over. It wasn't, of course, but there was a good, long suck-fest after that. The only bright spot was the first appearance of the Black Cat, but she wouldn't really live up to her potential for many years.
For me, the Silver Age of Spider-man began around ASM #226, the third story to feature Felicia and a few issues into Stern's run. The costume party scene was fantastic, with Spidey dressed as a Jawa, Peter at the laundromat seeing a woman that reminded him of Felicia... The Juggernaut story was a classic, and of course not long after that was the start of the Hobgoblin epic... The Hobgoblin period ran alongside the Black Cat/Dr. Octopus war in Spectacular, then came the Secret Wars symbiote, the Sin-Eater, Spider-man vs. Wolverine, the wedding, Kraven's Last Hunt, and immediately after that Venom and the legendary McFarlane reign. If the decade from 1973 to 1982 was Stinksville, the decade from 1982 to 1991 was just the opposite.
Then came the Clone Saga. It was suddenly as if sixteen tons of cowpatties had just been dumped on Spider-man, and seemed he would never crawl out. There were one or two issues in there that were decent; ASM #400 and the death of Aunt May, and the Onslaught one where Peter (who we were then told was the clone) kicked the crap out of three sentinels in half as many seconds and then said, "I know you're the real deal, but dammit I was good at this!" Even after correcting the situation, though, the books just could not recover from the damage done. The Byrne reboot came, along with MJ dying in a plane crash, and before I knew it more than a decade of disappointment had piled up.
The books were almost entirely garbage up until the return of Mary Jane and the start of that incredible run by J. Michael Stracynski in 2001. Paul Jenkins had been slowly picking up the slack in Peter Parker Spider-man, but he was struggling without Mary Jane or a decent supporting cast to work with. When MJ came back, and with JMS to try and keep up with, Jenkins' work soared to new heights as well. This modern era of Spider-man carried us through such landmarks as the Spider-totem concept, Avengers Disassembled & the evolution of organic webshooters, the torturous but somehow still riveting Sins Past, The Other, the Iron Spidey & Civil War, Back in Black and of course, the end of Spider-man continuity: One More Day.
As far as I'm concerned, anything from ASM #546 on is not Spider-man, but some other phony, alternate reality Spider-man supplanting him in the 616 universe. The story of the Amazing Spider-man: the richness of its history, the meaningfulness of his story, his characterization, everything... it all ended when Joe Quesada forced his will upon the story of Peter Parker, deciding that he should be single again, his secret identity re-established, Harry Osborn should be suddenly alive, Peter's powers should be scaled back, Aunt May brought back to life (again), the house in Forest Hills rebuilt, the Bugle would become the DB, Pete would go back to living with Aunt May, a whole new cast of characters would appear, and basically nothing at all would ever be the same again. I don't know what everyone is reading these days, but none of it looks or sounds like Spider-man to me. Unfortunately, they didn't keep the series that I grew up with going, they just ended it entirely. Saves me money, I suppose, but it seems like we've got ten years on, ten years off. Right now we're in the third decade of Spider-crap. The first being 1973-1982, the second from 1991 to 2001, and the third is from 2007 on. The only thing that really bites is that we didn't even get a whole decade of good stories before the third decade of crap began.
Delta House "Desperado"
Call me Newbie again... I dare ya.