Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Buh-Bye, Mark Twain Stamps

I'm a little sad today.

For the past few years on my snail-mail I've been using--exclusively--the "forever" stamp featuring the image of Mark Twain--with a bit of a Mississippi River steamboat in the background. And I've used quite a few of them. Since my mom (95) can no longer use email (and hasn't been able to for several years), I write snail-mail to her twice a week--Sunday and Wednesday--and all of those letters (372 by my last count) have featured Twain's stamp on the envelope.

I have a long and happy history with Mark Twain--as some earlier posts here have described--beginning when I was in Adams Elementary School (Enid, Okla.) and listened every day after recess (if we were good) to our fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rockwell, reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to us while we cooled off (it was Oklahoma) and settled down (we were fourth graders). Later, I learned that Mrs. Rockwell, dear soul, had done some bowdlerizing as she read--probably a good idea in the Oklahoma of 1953. Probably still a good idea in Oklahoma!

Later, I read more Twain in high school, college, grad school, and spent some happy years teaching Huck Finn at Western Reserve Academy from 2001-2011 (when I retired). Post-retirement, I settled in and read all of Twain's books, including the weird ones he wrote near the end of his life (e.g., Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven (1907--just three years before he died with Halley's Comet in the sky, just as it had been at his birth in 1835).

I've been several times to Hannibal, Missouri, his boyhood town on the Mississippi that in some ways now resembles a Twain theme park. Our first visit? On our honeymoon in late December 1969. We had spent most of our time in New Orleans and had decided to drive back up along the river, stopping at Hannibal. (English-major nerds!) We'd already taken a riverboat ride back in New Orleans, up into the bayou country. Joyce was working at the time on Kate Chopin, who lived in Louisiana for a while and wrote many stories set there--including her fine novel The Awakening (another book I taught at WRA). So ... we spent a day in Hannibal in the early weeks of our marriage--now approaching forty-five years ago.

Later on--much later on--we returned to Hannibal, then drove to Florida, Missouri (not far away), where he was actually born. The tiny birth house is now inside the local Twain museum in Florida. (See below.)

So I was sad when I got on the USPS site the other day and discovered I could no longer buy those Twain stamps. (I settled for some that celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation.)

My mom was an English teacher, and I knew she'd appreciated the Twain stamps. I'm sure she did, though she never actually articulated that appreciation. Things change at 95.

And nothing is forever--not even a "forever stamp."


Good news: Just found some Twain stamps on Amazon.com. Plunked down the plastic ... cost a little more ... who cares!?!

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