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Collecting stamps, other paper bits all part of 10-year-old's life

'One has to specialize at 10, as the fields and ditches are rich with bounty to the trained eye,' says author, who recalls branching out from stamp collecting to enjoy the profits of collecting bottles

Look, I’ll confess at the outset, I was a Philatelist.

If your mind is able to get around the word without stumbling onto rockier paths. Philanderer is something else. This is PG.

Stamp Collector.

Yes, those colourful bits of paper we affix to the envelope? Send a card  anymore…to Mum or Grandma or get one in return? Lucky you.

If you’re ten, and wear glasses, stamp collecting may be for you. Or, it is just a rainy day and your Mum and Grandad both collected, so curiosity aroused, you became entranced. (Mum heard sighing with relief off stage).

The rain stopped and now, every old house, back-shed or barn was your happy hunting ground for old postcards or brown paper packages wrapped with large value stamps still intact. Not to forget old newspapers, magazines and journals shipped by the post office.

Treasure hunting at 10 turns to profit making, whether it is beer bottle, basket, coat hanger or not. As kids, they’re all part of our underground economy.

This was money before the newspaper route,  before recycling was a word.

One has to specialize at 10, as the fields and ditches are rich with bounty to the trained eye. Harvest is early Sunday morning when all the beer bottles have found a home from their wayward flight out the windows of cars on a Saturday night.

It’s all about detritus. Flotsam and jetsam, some call it. Others call it Junk.  Some elevate it to Antique and still others buy it and sell it, whatever it is.

When you are 10, you are at the bottom of the food chain hauling pop bottles to the Hackers Confectionery or Dodds Second Hand Store; fill in a name.

Had a subscription to Boys Life and would comb through the ads and write for packets of stamps.

You know, small runs of various places like Togo…amazing the size of their postal service, what with all the mail between that country and France.

Oddly, none with cancellations and all with outstanding gum.

As interest and understanding grew, I learned that some of the most ragged looking stamps were treasures. Now I look at it all differently as every ragged bit of paper needs attention.

My shrink and I are working this through. A story for another day.

René Hackstetter May 13, 2022.