Vintage Postage: A Daughter’s Love Letter and a Blogging Giveaway

daddy's easel

Dad’s easel hangs in my crafting area with special photos

Today’s post is a bit of a departure from my gardening antics. It’s a love letter, a giveaway and a way to celebrate my dad. He died in early August, 1969 at the age of 54. I was nine.

This year, things are different. I’ve worked many hours with a caring and knowledgeable therapist, reaching in to the dark corners of my confusing childhood. My willingness to do the hard work finally paid off. I’ve been able to integrate the vulnerable girl I was into a strong, caring adult. Through Fran’s guidance, I’ve arrived at a happier place.

Will you celebrate with me?

Eric Milner

Dad's Landscape Drawing_0001

Eric Milner Landscape Design

My father, Eric, had lots of hobbies.  Outdoors, he gardened, spending hours working with his hands to shape our beautiful, Ontario garden. He dug a small brook along the garden path to collect water and snow. The garden brimmed with flowers and in the summer, garden vegetables and fruits. I tasted my first cherry tomato from his garden. My sister Sharon and I would race around pinching the snapdragons. Dad taught me why bees are important and why you should never hurt one. Mom gave me a pair of spoons so I could dig in the dirt under the kitchen window while dad played in the garden nearby. There are many cherished memories of our home in Canada.

During the winter months, dad worked on his indoor hobbies. He built a wooden model of the Golden Hind. He painted, collected coins, made home-made movies with his Super 8 and he collected stamps from around the world.

Daddy in India 1941

Dad in India

Born in Oldham, England, dad studied horticulture and design. He lived in Darjeeling, India for many years where he worked on a tea plantation. He was a captain in the army, and worked as a translator. After the war, disillusioned with life back in England, he moved to Ontario, Canada. There he met our mother on a blind date.  According to Mum, she didn’t want to go. Her friend convinced her that my dad was a good dancer so she went. They married a year later.

Mom and Dad on their wedding day

Mom and Dad get married

My parents moved to California in the fall of 1966. By Christmas, 1968 dad had lung cancer. He died the following year.

My tall, slender dad loved teasing us. He would exclaim loudly at something outside the window, then when you turned back your dessert was gone. We fell for it every time. He came home from work hiding small gifts behind his back and my sister and I would get to choose which hand.  He saved extra postage stamps to encourage our own collections. He loved animals and children, art and photography, and most of all he loved us.  And of course, he loved gardening.

 Vintage Postage Give-away

My dad collected stamps from his travels and through buy and trade. Packets of stamps arrived in the mail, ready for soaking and mounting in his Burgundy-covered New Age Stamp Album.  May years after his death, Mum sold a few of his stamp albums and gave each of us the money toward college.  She saved the rest of his albums and they came to me after she died.  I’ve leafed through them from time to time, amazed at his vast collection. My oldest son took one of his albums for show and tell in grade school. Recently I sent some of his stamps to a dear and trusted friend and realized the joy in releasing them to someone special. My sister plans to make cards for her friends with the album in her care.

Here is where you come in. My dad would get a kick out of the idea of mailing these stamps around the world again. The album pages have come free of their binding. They’re ready to go.  If you look for a ‘sign’ you can find one anywhere, so for me, this is a sign to mail the stamps to you, and quickly before the post office goes broke.  I once viewed his albums as a life and a hobby interrupted. Now I see them as a gift to be shared, and as a way to celebrate his kindness, generosity, curiosity and care. Will you please take part?

Sample Pages

The stamp issue dates are mid-1937 to mid-1938.

Please make your requests using the contact form.  Click here.  This keeps the requests private and allows you to provide your complete name and address for mailing.

On the form, please request your first, second and third country of choice. Include your full name and mailing address. That’s it. Please make your request by August 31, 2014.  If I still have pages after that date, I will let you know. Click on the list of postage stamp countries to see what’s available:

List of postage stamp countries

postage stamp collage

Pages of postage stamps 1937 – 1938

What can you do with a bunch of old postage stamps?

  • Use them to make mixed-media art
  • Make a birthday card for someone special
  • Laminate them in strips and use them for bookmarks
  • Add them to a scrapbook page
  • Give them to a child and make up a story to go with them
  • Celebrate history
  • Take part in this gardening nirvana blogging adventure.

Pinterest curates some great pieces of art using postage.

Please let me know what you think in the comments, and then send your request via the contact form.  I would love it if you joined in the fun?

19 thoughts on “Vintage Postage: A Daughter’s Love Letter and a Blogging Giveaway

  1. I love that you are now ready to let your dad free. He won’t leave, he will just be able to shine for you now :). I had to do a double take when you said that he was from Oldham as my grandmother was also from Oldham Lancashire in the U.K. and came out to Australia to get away from hard times. She had to work for a year as a ladies maid to pay for her passage but after that she was free to do whatever she liked. What a funny old Serendipitous world it is eh? I collected stamps as a kid but I was most attracted to those weird shaped brightly coloured African stamps. I always liked things a bit wonky ;). I love that you are sharing your dad’s stamps with the rest of the world. If you set things out into the ether you find wonderful things to replace them, even if it is only great memories for your friends. HUGE hugs for today Ms Alys 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for being in my corner, Fran. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re hanging on tightly until you let something go. Does that ever happen to you? I feel freer than I’ve ever been, able to celebrate with joy instead of getting bogged down in sorrow.

      Given the size of this great world and our miles apart, it is amazingly serendipitous that your grandmother hails from the same community as my dad. That is jaw-dropping. She has a great story too, one of hard work, a long passage by sea and then relative freedom as you say. We have plenty of challenges, this generation of ours, but back-breaking work that was standard for girls as young as 12 isn’t one of them, at least in developing countries. I recently saw (and hope to find again) a wheeling water barrel that allows young girls and women in developing countries an easier way to transport water, something that involves a large part of their day. It’s such a simple, low-tech yet brilliant solution, its a wonder it took this many years *after* the development of the wheel to come up with it.

      Anyway…I digress.

      Thank you for those hugs. I bounce them right back to you. If you’ll send me your address, I would like to make you a bookmark with some UK stamps. If you have a favorite color or colors, please speak up.

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      • If you know Ms Pauline (and you do…) you know my taste Ms Alys as we are kindred spirits in colours. I would be most honoured to use a bookmark that you had made with some of your dad’s stamps. Reading is my passion. It was my “out” when I was a kid and I was always nose deep in a book to keep the world a bit further away and my inside world up front and personal. I will send you my address in FB and thank you in advance for being such a nice person 🙂

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  2. What a beautiful post dedicated to your wonderful father, Alys. I can see a lot of him in you – the kindness, generosity, sense of humour, love of gardening etc. This post confirms for me what an amazing spirit you have – the life you have created, the things you have achieved and the lovely family you have – all despite having lost your great dad at the age of nine. I’m so pleased you have reached a happier place, Alys, because you of all people deserve happiness. What a fabulous and generous thing to do to send your Dad’s stamps back out into the world. A very uplifting post. Thank-you. xoxoxoxoxox

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dear Dani, thank you for your always gracious comments. Funny, but I was thinking about your dad and your wonderful post and tribute to him as I read this. I’m thrilled for you and for your children that he remains a part of your lives. I know you cherish him.

      Sending Dad’s stamps back into the world feels so right. I know he would be tickled that his daughter corresponds with wonderful people like you from around the world. There are days when I still can’t quite believe it. xooxoxoxoxoxo

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  3. Dear Alys, what a lovely story in honor of your adventurous and loving dad. So sorry the read you have lost him at such a young age. But for sure, you live in his spirit and pass on through your life style and garden and stories, the many good things connected to him.
    Reading a little about your dad’s international life it seems such a good idea to let his stamps travel all over the world too. I hope they all find good homes in very corner of the world. Letting go is wonderful thing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Letting go is wonderful! It’s advice I give to my organizing clients again and again, but as you know, seeing these things in yourself is a different story. Sometimes you don’t know you’ve been hanging on tightly till you let go. It’s liberating and fun and exciting to be sending his stamps into the world. They no longer feel enshrined but celebrated and now shared.

      Thank you for your comments and perspective, Mrs. Walker.

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  4. Hi ((( Alys ))), this is a really dear post. I’m touched that you’ve gifted a portion of your dads collection to me. I’ve looked at them so many times and have never wanted to alter the pages. I would have never thought of using them in so many ways. I really love a number of the ideas on Pinterest. Maybe I’ll get brave enough to alter them one day.

    I’m smiling all about your generous plan to share his collection and have these precious stamps travel to different parts of the globe. You are the most giving spirit I know. I bet your dad would be tickled too. He seemed like a really enlightened soul by his many interests. I remember you telling me about their flower shop too. What a delightfully well rounded life. Travel, art, nature, family…a renaissance man.

    I’m sure the knowledge that he was leaving all of you was crushing for him too. Even though we live far apart and have lived different experiences, we can still feel connected by so many things. I wonder sometimes, if our dads had something to do with bringing us together. Maybe not, but you have been a gift I’m so grateful for in my life. Love you dearly, Shine on xoxox Kelly.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I love that my dad’s stamps have traveled back to Canada. He would be smiling for sure at the serendipity in all of this: finding you via blogging, sharing our creative juices, our commonalities, our travels and our unique and wonderful connections. I’m smiling too.

      It’s fun to search ideas on Pinterest. I’m often blown away at the breadth of creativity. Like good books, there are so many more ideas than one could ever tackle, but I enjoy imagining doing them all.

      Funny you should use the word renaissance man, as I thought that way of Mike when we first met. He was one of the few men I’ve met over the years that enjoyed more than football and TV. He’s fluent in two languages, spent time living in Argentina as well as the US and has traveled dozens of countries around the globe. He enjoys, film, theater,sailing, technology, ham radio, cooking, politics and though not a gardener, he’s always willing to dig holes for me.

      I wonder when he knew he was dying and wouldn’t be here to help raise us? I’ve been cocooned in my own grief for so long, that I never fully entertained that. You’re right. One of my last memories of him at home was in the kitchen with my mom watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon: July 21, 1969. He died a few weeks later. Because he was home, I’m sure I thought he was getting better. We often asked the question, but I don’t know that the answer was fully formed, until Mom told us “your dad isn’t going to make it.”

      You too are a gift of extraordinary breadth and depth. Our dads, too, would have been fast and enduring friends.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You are a glorious, living tribute to your dad, his spirit shining forth through you. I always enjoy reading about, and seeing pictures of your family’s history, your dad’s many interests and talents, and the way he influenced your and Sharon’s lives. I admire both your parents for the life they led, the strong loving relationship they had with each other, and for the impressive job they did instilling essential values in their daughters. Even without your dad, your remarkable, steadfast mom raised you girls in a fine manner. I know you are grateful to both of your parents.

    I’m pleased to know that you’ve come to a more peaceful place in your heart, having worked through so much trauma over losing your dad when you did. I applaud you for tackling the challenges you faced in the process, the painful memories and emotions you bravely acknowledged and reckoned with. I love your fresh perspective on the gifts – material and ethereal – that your father left you. Sharing his treasured stamp collection with friends is a lovely way to honor him. I’m sure he’d be delighted by your creativity and generosity. Most importantly, you honor him every day of your life by the way you lovingly tend your garden and your family, and the animals, just as he did. You do your dad proud, Alys.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Compassionate Citizen, you’ve filled me with a warm heart and a grateful soul. Thank you for your eloquent words and support. It’s good of you to take the time to write this generous comment with all that you’re facing in your own world.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading , commenting and sharing of yourself. And thank you, too for your lovely card and gift. A proper thank you will be forthcoming. xox

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  9. I’m glad to have finally had the chance to read this post. Like my dad would always say, I’m a day late and a dollar short. But it was worth it not to miss entirely. I think I saw the later post on some of what you did with the stamps. They were wonderful. I’m glad you found a good therapist to help you work through your grief. He sounds like an amazing man and even though you were so young when he passed, you have good memories of your time with him. I think memorabilia helps us evoke those memories each time we look at them. I keep wondering what I can leave behind that my children will remember me by? Will they have sweet memories? There is a lot of food for thought here. Hugs to you, Alys.

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    • Thanks for those words and hugs, Marlene. It means a lot to me. From the reading I’ve done, I know your children carry happy memories of you and will hold onto those for a lifetime. I think photos are one of the best things to have from those we love. Second to that would be something the made or wrote. You’ll be able to leave all three. xox

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