Stamped in my memory

Today, Jadzia and I were watching Mr. Rogers. Early in the show, Mr. Rogers took us to see how the Postal Service makes postage stamps. Whenever we watch Mr. Rogers, I always try to do something afterward with Jadzia that connects with the episode. So when we were done watching, I remembered my little stamp collection. I dug it out from the basement and showed it to Jadzia. Yoli gave us a magnifying glass so Jadzia could really inspect the stamps. (Truth is, she still doesn’t quite get how to use a magnifying glass)

Anyway, as we went through the book, I saw my old stamps with new eyes. I realized how I am connected to the places represented by these stamps in ways I didn’t know about when I was a kid collector.


Space

When I was in grade school, I lived on Yaqui Drive in Florissant, Missouri. My brothers and I were friends with all the boys on the street. And for a brief period, some of us got into (oddly enough) stamp collecting and created an informal club, which I think was called “Philately Friends.” It was serious enough that we even placed a few orders for stamps from a mail-order place.

I was big into space stamps. After all, I liked sci-fi, having become a fan of Star Trek because of my Aunt Karen. Years before this stamp-collecting fling, I had started a club at school called the “Space Academy Federation” or “SAF” for short. It was basically my own personal version of Star Trek, with ships and crews (and myself at the top of a suitably bureaucratic chain-of-command). It was played out at recess at Russell Elementary. Most of my friends stopped playing along after a while, but three of us kept it alive for a few more years, despite the fact that all three of us ended up at different elementary schools. Eventually, though, it lived on only in my imagination.


Britain

Probably the largest section of my little stamp book is my collection of British stamps. This is probably because my Nanny (mom’s mom) immigrated here from England, and she and her brother gave me gobs of stamps.


Israel & Palestine

Around the time I was in junior high I began developing an interest in the history of modern Israel. This interest never waned, and I was able to fulfill a dream and visit Israel for a week in December 2000-January 2001. That was my first trip out of the country, and surprisingly, not my last.


South America

I don’t have any stamps from Bolivia, but I found I did have them from other countries in South America, like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile (the latter considered an enemy state by many Bolivians). Yoli’s father lived in Argentina for a while.


Germany

Because of my new genealogy hobby, I now realize just how German I am. There are several very strong German lines coming to me through my dad’s family. Our Becker ancestors came to St. Louis around 1860, having first lived in Louisville, Kentucky for a while in the 1850s.


Poland

I also now realize how Polish I am! My great-grandmother’s parents were both Polish immigrants; they came to St. Louis in 1906 and 1910. Unlike with the Becker family, I think I may be able to trace the Horosiewiczes and Klekotkas back to Europe, because these surnames are pretty unusual, and also because I know pretty much which cities they came from. Recently I signed onto a Polish social network site (something like Facebook before it opened up to non-school-age people) called nasza-klasa.pl. I searched for people who might be distant relatives, and have been talking with some of them for a couple weeks now. It will be very interesting to see if we can actually figure out if we are related!

About Josh Renaud

I'm the Emperor of the Renaud Empire, which is to say that I'm the husband of a Boliviana and the father of three daughters and one son. When I'm not conquering lands and expanding borders, I'm a newspaper designer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Find me on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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