“Through a Glass Darkly” column for Jan. 9, 2013

BY BOB ANDERSON

When I was a boy I started a stamp collection.

I did it during one of those seemingly endless summers children enjoy before adolescence. As fondly as I remember those summers, they could get boring.

Had there been computers, video games, cellphones with texting, DVDs, VCRs or even a television in our house, I may have never noticed stamps.

One broiling midday I gave up playing outside to sit by an open window while the attic fan sucked in a breeze.

My mother had just read a letter from my Uncle Vincent, a merchant marine who sent us mail from all over the world. She looked at the Hong Kong stamps and suggested I keep them.

I knew nothing about stamp collecting, except for a story I had heard on radio about a guy selling his collection for a lot of money. Starting a stamp collection seemed a worthy idea on a hot day.

When I showed interest, my mom pulled out old letters, including some from her brothers in World War II, so I could cut out the stamps.

I found 3-cent “Win the War” stamps, European stamps and air-mail stamps.

I clipped everything for my new collection including the 2-cent Thomas Jeffersons.

I soon tired of everyday stamps, but claimed any unusual stamp that arrived.

Over the next few years, stamps from Brazil, Canada, India, Argentina, Germany, Malaysia, Finland and New Zealand were like presents when they appeared in the mailbox. I searched out each country on my globe.

The locations on the globe combined with the tiny pictures that had found their way thousands of miles sent my imagination soaring.

Depictions of sailing ships, trains and planes fueled a desire to travel.

Scenes of buildings and people from foreign lands opened my eyes to a broader world.

I never became a serious collector, but I continued to clip interesting stamps even after I finished college.

Later, the hundreds of little pictures fascinated Sarah, my daughter, just as they had me.

It had been a couple of decades since I’d seen my stamps when my son, Casey, recently returned from Japan and cleaned his room. Deep in a closet that used to be Sarah’s he found the stamps.

We spread them on the dining room table and looked at 8-cent pictures of big-horned sheep, Albert Einstein and lunar exploration.

We viewed foreign portraits of the last shah of Iran, Beethoven, and knights, queens, princes and leaders from around the world.

We took special pleasure in stamps of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson.

I doubt the collection has much monetary value, but it was nice to peruse it again.

Maybe someday the collection will ignite the imagination of one of my grandchildren.

Contact Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson by email at banderson@theadvocate.com.