There was a day – always an intro of an Old Man Chat – when stamp collecting was considered the Hobby of Kings. Now, we tap a quick email with punctuation that would make Mrs. Dean blush, and we’re good to go. No unsanitary licking required. Efficient as email or texting is, it’s hard to get subtext across. I’m glad my mother passed away before getting deep into the electronic arts: she would have sat for days parsing every word, every keystroke, and even the time of day from someone who sent her a recipe for peach cobbler. It was her specialty. Not the cobbler, but wondering what you really meant. She took nothing at face value. I’m sure there’s a kind of science about why a nice Canadian girl born to Czech immigrants who moved to America doubted everything anyone said.
In the Good Old Days, back when America was Great, unbeknownst to many was a Secret Language of Stamps, shown in the photo below. I like the horizontally placed ‘Answer at Once’ placement. Apparently, when America was Great, we all had patience. ‘Answer at Once’ took a full ten days: one day to post the card, four days for delivery, and the same for turnaround. Maybe email isn’t so bad after all. Or maybe ‘urgent’ meant something different then.
I wonder, too, if there were stamp placements for when you were irritated beyond words. I haven’t seen that postcard. I see here that an upright diagonal placement means ‘I Am Faithful to You.’ How do you code ‘I Just Slept With Your Brother’ or ‘Glad You Forgot Me?’
As a stamp collector, and as a human being living in the Western world, what interests me is that there was a time when this card made perfect sense to anyone walking the street. Everyone mailed letters, and stamps and mail were a part of everyday living for everyone. It’s not so today, and I can easily imagine people staring at this card wondering what in the world it’s about, just like I might see a farm implement from the 1920s and wonder what kind of torture device it is.
For the collector, the card was posted with a Great Britain Scott 151 Half-Penny King George V from 1911 with a Newcastle postmark to Mother in Jesmond. Wiki tells me that Jesmond is an upscale and posh suburb of Newcastle. Snooping, we see that son ‘Johnny?’ was writing dear mother.
Dear Mother, The latest – do you like it[?] I think it’s very pretty. Are you out or are you going out this evening[?] Love Johnny.
Mothers everywhere still wish for this – a son who remembers to write home.
Do you collect stamps? Do you live in Newcastle or Jesmond? Are you a human being? If so, do you know anyone else who would like the post? If so, you can send it to them or post it to social media using one of the buttons below. Heck, print it out and mail it to them.
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Blessings and cheers!