Friday, November 27, 2009
Well, no crocs for me, but since Marie likes snappy things, I thought an old cover (1989) with Duke Ellington for the stamps would be appropriate. Besides, there's a story to go with this one.
I began following the Postmark Pursuit column in Linn's Stamp News shortly after I discovered there was a market for my smallish art. I found this Event Cancel for a Jazz Festival in Gresham, Oregon, called the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz. I purchased the stamps which were long since off sale from a Stamp Store in Seattle, used the image of the cancel as a starting point, and prepared four covers with Gold Leaf and piano keys in front of an outline of Mt. Hood, just like in the cancel. Being a believer in the Postal Service being able to process my art on envelopes, I sent them off to get canceled.
I waited. Matter of fact, I waited three weeks after the covers should have been returned to me before becoming concerned. I called the postmaster in Gresham. He was sure that they'd processed all of the covers that they had requesting the cancel, but he said he'd check. I called three days later, and he said he was positive they'd processed them all, but that he would once again check with the employee who had processed the requests.
He finally returned my call to inform me that he'd checked with the employee, and indeed, all of the covers had been processed. I was furious. They had all been labeled with removable labels, and I'd seen none of them return. Until two days later, when the first one showed up. The next day, the other three showed up. All of them canceled with a MACHINE cancel from the Portland Post Office, but different machines.
I called the Gresham Post Office, and let the postmaster know they'd been returned with machine cancels. He was apologetic, but told me that the postal employee would be losing his job, and suspected that when he had been confronted with the case of the missing covers, he panicked and made the drive to Portland to drop them in drop boxes.
So - I ended up with four covers that pretty much look just like this one. There's some wear on the gold leaf in several pieces, but I hold on to them as a reminder not to trust my art to the vagaries of the mail any more.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A great idea passed on to me by either a follower, or someone whose blog I follow. I've had this idea bouncing around since June or July, and finally decided to do something about it.
Anybody interested in the particulars, simply go to MAIL ME ART. It's in there. I like the idea of going postal with my art work, and I'm certain there are others of a similar mind.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
My wife just recently went through my 'box', and pulled another twenty or so covers out that hadn't seen the light of day for a number of years. This one has no date written on the back, which is usually a sign that I didn't include a letter with this one. She didn't care. The envelope was enough, although I often felt badly that I didn't write at least something. She's still my best friend.
Join Marie on her French Fractrice blog for some more Friendly Mail!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I remember them all. I thought about the Circus a few times when I was doing this piece, but The Monkees didn't jump rope, Eric Burdon & The Animals didn't cut their hair, and The Boxtops - well, I'll never forget The Letter.
There are a couple of other products that the National Biscuit Company produced, but for the moment - I have no more Nabisco paper.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I had the best of intentions. Veteran's Day for me began very early. I had intended to post this as an early Postcard Friendly Friday image, and I will link to it from Marie Reed's blog when she announces it. I'm not Talking Turkey like she is, but this story is a bit longer. I'm going to tell you about my Veteran's Day. It's never too late.
We've been involved in a local project sponsored by the Lewis & Clark Library called The Big Read. The library received a grant to enable them to involve the community of Helena in getting "back to the book" as a means of enabling better communications. The library collaborated with the local high schools, the Holter Museum of Art, and several other local organizations to make this a true community event. The grant came from the National Endowments for the Arts Program, and this year a group of teachers from the high schools and the library chose a book called "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. Approximately 1,000 high school students received the book for free, and along with the book they also received a readers guide. There were also almost seven hundred of the books available, through the library, for those interested in having a copy of the book for themselves. I have a copy signed by the author while he was here in Helena to speak about the book itself and the things HE carried. The Holter Museum of Art also participated, by providing gallery space for an exhibit in conjunction with a variety of programs sponsored by the library over the course of a month from October 11th to November 11th.
November 11th started at 3:00 AM for me. I woke up in a cold sweat. Tuesday evening I went through 'my box' looking for more envelopes to fill in the blank spaces in an album that my wife put together. Some of you that follow PFF have seen my FREE mail that I sent to her over the course of my year-long vacation in SE Asia. She had removed about fifteen of them to lend to the Holter for the gallery display of "The Things They Carried". I decided to see if I'd written her a letter on November 11, 1969 (forty years ago to the day), and I had. My wife had warned me that I should not read the letter. I didn't listen.
I was invited to Helena High School to talk about the things I carried, and the things that I did while in Vietnam. My wife and I spent a half an hour with the BioClub in Sandi Wardell's classroom, we were interviewed by Jesse Rogers and Kelsey Stordahl for the school newspaper, and we did a presentation for Robyn Duff's very enthusiastic Art class. We were guided around the high school by the Librarian, Niki Whearty, who was very gracious and understanding of the baggage I carried. I have to say looking back on it, that although it was emotionally draining, I would not have passed up the opportunity to speak to these young students. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
NOW. The cover. The USPS issued the POW-MIA stamp on May 29th, Memorial Day, of 1995. I decided at the time to do something 'special' because the Vietnam Conflict was an integral part of my life having spent a year with the Marines as a Hospital Corpsman. I came up with the idea of using the dog tags (from the theme of the stamp itself) of a Montana man, learn as much as I could about him, and use his dog tags as my art. Little did I know when I began where this journey would lead me.
Lee's mother is still living with her daughter in Wolf Point, Montana. Every year on Memorial Day she makes the almost five hundred mile trip to Choteau, Montana, to pay a visit to the Choteau Cemetary to honor her son. When I finally was able to connect with his sister, she told me she would ask Lee's mother if she knew what was on Lee's dog tags. I was told the story of her mother's search several days later.
When Lee's belongings were returned to her from the ship he was stationed on, she placed his sea bag in a closet. Just short of thirty years to the day that he was shot down, she opened the sea bag for the first time and found a pair of Lee's dog tags.
I completed the art work on several covers before the First Day, and on May 29th, 1995, in Choteau, Montana, I had them canceled and gave one of the envelopes to her.
Forty years ago TODAY, I was knee deep in a rice paddy. Every day for the next ten months, I will try to recall how I spent my days with the help of the letters enclosed in the Free Mail I sent to my wife, and I will also recall The Things I Carried. And still do.
Lee E. Nordahl was shot down over North Vietnam on December 20th, 1965. Although he survived the crash and was taken to a hospital, he apparently died shortly after his arrival, although photographs were taken (and undiscovered for over twenty years) of him receiving treatment. God Rest his soul In Peace, wherever he may be.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This piece of bill head was a very recent purchase.
In October, I posted a piece of bill head from a later iteration of this same business, only Mr. Parchen was in business with Mr. Paynter at this very same location five years earlier. It is also for goods purchased by J. H. McKnight & Company in Fort Shaw, Montana Territory. The previous piece was an order that included six dozen trout flies. This one is only for two dozen, but this time - Mr. McKnight expects THE BEST.
I threw an extra fly on this piece - just because. My wife tells me when she arranges flowers you always have to have an odd number, so I put five on this one instead of four.
Let the bidding begin.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Bottle collectors will love this one!
A piece of bill head from Goodkind Brothers of Helena, Montana, who had their business at Main Street (known as Last Chance Gulch) and 6th Avenue. This is an image of what their bottle of Sour Mash Whiskey looked like complete with one of their in-house labels. The bottle itself stands about six inches tall.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The middle of August we made a trip to Billings, Montana to search for old paper. The first place that we stopped had large map drawers full of paper, but I could only find one piece of paper that really held my interest, and this is it.
Sometime in the early part of the school year of 1948, Rose Allisch, Lorette Borsheim and Donald Knudson of McCabe, Montana, wrote a letter to the Chicago Zoological Park inquiring about the GIANT PANDA BEAR. This letter is a response to their inquiry.
This year is the 140th anniversary of the discovery of the Giant Panda by a Westerner. A French priest by the name of Father Jean Pierre Armand David described the panda that had been shot by hunters in the Sichuan province of China in 1869. Until Father David described the panda in that year, the panda was virtually unknown outside of China. The world is still fascinated by this animal that may indeed not even be related to the true bears.
The envelope the letter came in is dated October 27, 1948.