Posts Tagged With: stamps


DSC07516 (Copy)I’m a rug maker and I still have balls of wool that are waiting to be braided into rugs like this one. Not perfect, but usable. They are thick and hearty and colorful.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a woman who said, “Are you Mary Matzek? You don’t know me but I saw your name in Reminisce Magazine about three years ago. You were looking for a set of rug braiders and I have them. I’ve been holding onto these looking for that magazine I misplaced, and I finally found it. Do you still want them?”  Her name is Marci Van Riper from Pennsylvania. I told her I’d gotten several sets. I have two sizes, 2 inch and 1 inch. Her set was 1 and 1/2 inch. She was keen on me having them after holding them for me for three years, so I agreed I could make a nice thin rug from old curtains for my bathroom.  She is 87 years old and I readily understood the idea of re-using things, fabric scraps for quilts, old sweaters for hot pads and baby soakers, , old wool coats and pants-never tossing anything that is usable, like rug braiders.

DSC07514 (Copy)This rug is thin and lies very flat, and it is very special to me. My mother made the center and the next two rows as a small bathoom rug from cottons. The light blue came from her first pair of “slacks” for which she got scolded from her father, because girls didn’t wear pants in those days. Years later, I  put on the last row with a pair of maroon pants I loved because the material was stretchable and allowed me to reach the pedals of the plane I was flying. I hated to give them away when they no longer fit. At the time I didn’t attach any significance to adding a row to a rug my mother made. After all, it’s just an old bath mat. Now, I appreciate that connection. Slacks, that represented something to her and flight pants that meant something to me.

DSC07515 (Copy)This is also a bathroom rug made from t-shirt strips, hooked through a mesh backing. Rug making is hardly done by hand anymore. I enjoyed making it and using it.

I wanted to pay for the cost of mailing the braiders but Marci would have none of that. She was adamant I not pay for the stamps since her brother had bought from their local post office, every Jenny stamp they had, 12 sheets of $2 stamps. The postal person, said, “you might as well have them all, here is a single left.” Stamps then came in glassine bags that you couldn’t see through. What he was hoping to snag was one that had been printed upside down. His investment paid off and that last single stamp is now worth $50,000.  He keeps it in a bank vault. She is still spending Jenny’s that were correct. I found out she collects stamps and we talked for about 30 minutes. What a marvelous woman she is!

My computer was out and my neighbor, Brian came and fixed it this morning. He suggested I put into a pool for the California Lottery. Normally, I would have said no. But, after hearing about the Jenny, I handed him a ten. Fool, my brain said. Ah, what the heck, maybe my luck will hold.



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DSC07172 (Copy)We turn into children a bit if we have little grand kids to play with. But even adults enjoy taking a drive through a particularly colorful neighborhood where  lights and lawn decorations beckon. We decorated lavishly when our kids were little but now I settle for getting cards out every couple of years or so.

DSC07168 (Copy)With my signal down for two days, I put my mind to Christmas cards and toward the end of my list, I got weary  and decided to phone old friends I hadn’t seen, nor heard from. Numbers change and I regret not keeping up with old friends. In a changing world, we have social media, email and facebook. I can find a couple of them I’m sure.

DSC07169 (Copy)A less known ritual among stamp collectors  is to mail away to a Christmas town.  Each year I would pick a couple of towns that suggest Christmas and send a self-addressed return envelope, to collect the post mark.

DSC07171 (Copy)It would surprise you to know how many Christmasy places we have in the U.S. I have a list of 89 cities. Some are repeats, like Berry, IL., and Berry, KY. I’ve written for: Santa, ID. Bethlehem, N.H.,Chestnut, IL, Christmas, MI.,Evergreen, NC.,Garland, TX., Mistletoe, KY, Rudolph, WI, Harmony, MN.   There are many, like Ivy, Pine, Noel, Hope, Bountiful, St. Marys, Winters, North Pole… and so it goes. I forgot to mention local Angels Camp is on the list.

DSC07177 (Copy)And, once you begin looking at post marks, you find other interesting anomalies like these opposites:

Disco, Wisconsin —– Waltz, Michigan.  Carefree, Arizona—–Panic, Pennyslvania.  Normal, Illinois—–Peculiar, Missouri. Sunrise, Wyoming—–Sunset, Louisiana.  Lively, Virginia—–Drab, Pennsylvania. Why, Arizona—–Whynot, Mississippi.

Then you begin to wonder, why was a particular town named Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, Hell, California, or Triumph, Louisiana?  All town names are a glance at history in a unique way.  Major postal centers digitally sort mail and in many areas you can no longer get post marks of the city on an envelope.

You will not see kids lying on the floor, pouring over pictures in a catalog either. I know the future is here, and an I-phone can play your favorite Christmas Carols and allow you to shop while waiting at the doctor’s office. Even waiting at the doctor’s office is destined to change. I am not longing for the “good old days” so much as relishing memories and comparisons, a kind of privilege of age. Who would have thought we’d see driverless cars, and voices that give you directions while driving?   I love the technology giving us wonderful things in the future. But, I believe the guy who invented voice mail should be shot. (Well, you know, not really. Only when I’m hanging on-line for an hour or so.)


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Obviously,  some post offices must be closed. The US Postal Service is bleeding money while most of us communicate through our computers, fax machines or private delivery services. Consolidating is a hard decision when it affects postal employees during already hard times. I’ve heard neighbors grumble  why not cut down the number of days the mail is delivered? For rural folks like us, the Post Office is regarded as a necessity. House to house delivery was just a wish when I first moved to Calaveras County. In some remote areas it is yet the case and continues to serve as  a friendly neighborhood meeting place. You can’t just shout  “Howdy” to your neighbor as you drive by when neighbor’s driveway might be a half mile long on two dirt ruts. It is the place for a community bulletin board when you inform your neighbors there has been a death in the family, or you impart other less important information.  Giving up such a chunk of history will be hard.

From a purely selfish point of view, I’m hating the idea of closing post offices because I’m a stamp collector. It was a lesson in history growing up, inexpensive, and engaging at one time.  The above two post marks reflect local history from two different communities that most people could care less about. But, what’s in a stamp?  The small towns of Centerville, Irvington, Niles, Mission San Jose, and Warm Springs became Fremont in 1956. The post mark reflects the change from each community.  I wish I’d gotten a transfer mark from each town. The Calcopex post mark honors the former community of White Pines which consolidated with Arnold many years earlier. Local folks identify themselves as being from White Pines and wanted their heritage honored and remembered. They applied to the U.S. Postal Service and permission was granted.

I started my collection in 1946. And it was a thrill if a neighbor gave me a post mark from far away places, like Norwich, Connecticut, or Tuscumbia, Alabama. It was enough to make me dream of faraway places. Along with the  stamps I collected history on post marks.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) You notice abbreviations were CONN. and CALIF.  No zip codes. Stamps are pretty boring to young people who have the world at their fingers in their computers.  I still like to send away for Christmas Post Marks in exoticaly named places like Bethlehem, IN, Antler, ND,Chestnut,Ill, Snow,OK, and Angels Camp, CA. Yipes!  Just 9 miles down the road. I don’t oppose the closings, but I will miss the post marks. I’m saddened to watch this small part of history disappear.




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