where hobbies, hijinks, and capers go bad = my childhood #1


it began with the arrival of a letter when i was seven years old

with stamp on it that looked different from any i had ever seen

so beautiful and very exotic

and it came from my nana

who lived far away from michigan, in the exotic land of florida.

i thought that it was beautiful

and i decided then and there to become a stamp collector.

i cut that stamp from the envelope and glued it into a notebook.

not long after

i saw an offer to join a monthly stamp collecting club

in my archie comic book

and i noticed, as  i went to send in the offer

 that a parent had to sign it

so i asked my dad to give me his autograph on a piece of scrap paper

cut it out and glued it onto the form

(an early foray into my ill-fated attempts at a criminal career)

added in 99 cents from my piggy bank

and i was off to the races.

i eagerly awaited the day my first stamps would arrive

i had chosen some beauties and i ran home every day

hoping to find them in the mail

and on one glorious day – they were waiting for me!

i tore open the envelope

excitedly looked through them

licked them and placed them in my book

already looking forward to the next month’s arrival.

no one in my family was a collector

so i was taken by surprise when i showed them off to my friend’s older sister

who told me that real collectors only put them in cases

never touch them, and would never, ever lick them

– or they would instantly be made worthless!

i was quite taken aback

as it had never occurred to me that

this would be the reason people collected them

i had thought of them more as a collection of tiny beautiful pictures,

pieces of art, from places far away –

new guinea, finland, new zealand and even the legendary land of  canada

i had chosen flowers, and children, and animals, and pretty designs

with no interest at all in old president’s heads, history, nor with any regard for value.

my version of ‘stamp collecting’ was simply collecting my favorites

and keeping them all in one place, in my special notebook.

i have always loved a mix of patterns and colors and collages of things.

the other thing i had not considered at all

was that i had no income

and would have to continue to pay in order to continue to receive stamps

the next month, when my new set arrived

i gathered more change together, put it in an envelope,

and of course it was never received.

they sent a new batch of stamps along with a due bill and i was panicked

still without any source of income

always waiting for them to show up at the door to tell my parents and to collect.

by the third month,

i simply collected envelopes that came from them

affixed with boring american stamps,

filled with letters, asking me to pay up

and my stamp collecting hobby fell by the wayside.

though i still have a great appreciation for beautiful stamps

and love licking them to put on handwritten letters that i send to places all over the world.

“synonyms for collectable postage stamps: “sticky treasures,”

“collection of paper heads,” “pretty bits of paper,” and “colorful scraps.”

-alan brandley – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie


43 responses »

  1. I remember stamp collecting as a kid. I didn’t have the patience to do much, but we would buy boxes full at yard sales… then we would start to sort the, I’d get bored, and we would just have boxes full.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sweet hours of happinness for you I guess!

    My box of stamps was full of dreams of then impossible places to go – I guess they were the web of my childhood, the possibility of browsing those small coloured pieces of paper and the touch and smell each one of them had – the ultimate internet surfer’s dream!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I love this! I just heard a story from Vicki Robin (“Your Money or Your Life”) about how she went to a toy store as a little girl and stacked up boxes of doll clothes and walked out with them, because she didn’t realize you had to pay for things. Part of me wishes we could stay those girls who lick the stamps and walk out of the store with whatever we want. Maybe we can!

    Liked by 1 person

    • oh, i love that. yes, i wish that do, and perhaps i do things just for the joy of it from time to time and that’s a good thing. when she was young, my middle daughter once got in the car with a new pair of shoes that we had not purchased. as we were walking back in to apologize and to trade them back for her shoes that she had left in their place, i asked her why. she answered, ‘i think they look better with my outfit.’

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to save special things in a scrapbook! I sold my book to an antique store man. It had all the TV Guide covers, Betsy McCall and her baby sister and I throw stamps from places in almost every drawer but just cut them off the envelopes. They were pretty but have been stamped as routed through the post office.
    I like your saving the pretty ones like miniature paintings. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As far as I’m concerned, you were the REAL stamp collector – appreciating each one for its beauty – not its worth. And yes, I create return labels through a site I found, flowers and gorgeous scenery with my name and address circled ’round the round label, and then I buy stamps that match the colors. Even my postal clerk mentions how pretty my envelopes look when I mail them. :–)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: where hobbies, hijinks, and capers go bad = my childhood #1 — I didn’t have my glasses on…. – Stamp and Coin Collectors Blog

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