My friend, Veronica, is trying to single-handedly save the United States Postal Service by participating in Etsy’s 52 Weeks of Mail.
Each week she sends a handwritten note to a friend of family member.
Do you remember the last time you received a letter? Do you remember how exciting it was when personal mail arrived in the pre-e-mail days, before the arrival of the mailman just meant gas bills and fliers for Bed, Bath, and Beyond?
Veronica is the ideal person to be part of this project because she also designs beautiful handmade cards, such as this one —
Her interest in the postal service helped us discover a common childhood passion — stamp collecting! Although it now sounds like a dorky hobby, I was very passionate about my stamps.
I collected first day covers, new issues, and Christmas stamps. I was fascinated by international stamps. I learned much of my geography by connecting my foreign stamps to the home of origin on a world map. Every winter, I would go with my socialist-leaning, horse-race betting, stamp collecting-loving Aunt Ruthie to the big New York Stamp Expo at a hotel near Madison Square Garden.
I stopped stamp collecting when I reached puberty. I was surprised to hear that Veronica still kept up with the old-fashioned hobby.
“Sure, I go to the post office every week to see all the new stamps that are issued.”
I have been out of the stamp-collecting scene for so long that I didn’t realize they still issued new stamps. I figured everyone bought the boring “Forever” stamps that you can pick up at the supermarket — stamps so forgettable that I cannot recall the picture on the stamp, and I have used this one for years!
Despite the new stamps, Veronica told me that much of the old spirit had left the stamp-collecting world. And it wasn’t just the fault of technology. Much like blogging, the Post Office has gone corporate. Rather than issuing stamps that honor America’s great leaders, the Post Office has sold out to the highest bidder.
“Now they make stamps honoring crap, from cartoon characters to ketchup brands” said Veronica. “No one wants a stamp of Benjamin Franklin anymore.”
After hearing this, I am glad that I left stamp-collecting at it’s peak, like Jerry Seinfeld leaving his sitcom before it got stale.
But nothing prepared me for what happened a week later, when my mother called me on the phone. I had received a letter from Veronica in the mail. That I expected. I was anxious to see her handmade card, and the personal note.
“Is it a nice envelope?” I asked.
“Oh, very nice.” said my mother. “Very pretty blue. But just one thing. Unless I’m wrong… I think she put a Hitler stamp on the envelope.”
“A Hitler stamp? You must be wrong.”
“It looks just like Hitler. The mustache and everything.”
Had our Postal Service fallen so desperate that they were now producing new stamps honoring Hitler?!