Snow Days

The weather forecast in Philadelphia is for over 6″ of snow beginning tonight and lasting through tomorrow morning. My first philatelic memory is suffused with snow. I was in the third grade and had just received my first stamp album from Santa for Christmas. It was a Harris Statesman Deluxe album and it came with a packet of a thousand different worldwide stamps, a pair of tongs, and a pack of Dennison hinges. For Christmas that year I had also gotten a small rocket launcher set so the stamp collection got opened and then laid on a shelf. We had a rule in our house when I was little that we weren’t allowed out sledding on snow days until our streets had been plowed, so after I listened to the radio announcement that our school was closed, I had several hours until I could go out sledding. I took down my stamps, opened the packet of the thousand different and began to look at them. I was eight years old. TV, what there was of it, was black and white. So were newspapers, except for the Sunday comics. Here was my first world of little pictures in color. And such unusual names. I had heard of Canada and France but where in the world was Magyar Posta or Helvetia or CCCP? It was way too complicated to sort the stamps by country name and most of them were meaningless to me anyway. So I sorted by color and began hinging them into the album. Every time it snows now I think of stamps. When the radio alarm goes off on a snowy morning I always hope to hear “And these offices reporting closed today…” and hear my office mentioned. Having a day off just because it snows or because you don’t feel well are all part of the magic of childhood-a world that doesn’t exist for adults-that slows down for weather and illness and some days seem to exist only for you. And for me stamp collecting is part of that world. When I open my stamp albums I am still transported back to that time when all was fresh and white with wonder.

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