A Way to Travel in a Small World
by Gerald Herrin
I am old enough to remember that in the Woolworth store where my mother shopped occasionally, there was a small section of packets of foreign stamps, stamp albums (mostly by Harris if I remember correctly), hinges and other things associated with collecting stamps. No one told me about it. I just found it there, on small hangers and neat envelopes of beginners kits. I delivered newspapers and with that money I bought the beginnings of stamp collecting.
Home for that child was not a good place. Stamps told me what books also said: there was a big world out there, and I could find it. I subscribed to their approval service, and glassine packets of stamps from exotic locales arrived. There were countries I had never heard of. I traveled. Imagination is a wonderful tool.
As I grew older, I developed other interests, and the stamp collection slipped into the back drawer. It followed me on various moves through college, grad school, working, raising children. A few years ago, illness caused me to be more confined.
The stamp collection was found and once again, I could travel, in time, in place. This time I concentrated on a particular area, particular time lines, geographical, political. I liked the classic stamps of the German States, Imperial Germany and Colonies, Weimar, and Third Reich. I traveled. I escaped the limitations and resumed an interest that had long been dormant.
Stamp collecting is more than putting small pieces of colored paper in ordered rows; it involves the mind and emotions in unexpected ways. Try it. You might like it.