Children growing up today hardly know what a stamp is. Even the middle aged very rarely go into the local post office and buy some stamps to mail letters.
Growing up the western suburbs of Sydney, I knew there was a huge world out there but it seemed to be unobtainable. My way of connecting with it was through letters and the stamps on them.
One of my most memorable letters created a great deal of celebration in our street and even the postman was excited
The new Queen Elizabeth was coming to Australia. The first visit of a reigning monarch ever. I thought it might be good to write to her and tell her how pleased I was. I didn’t really expect to hear from her but about six weeks later, there was lots of whistling from the postman and he personally came to the door.
“There is a letter for Robin from Buckingham Place.” he excitedly told my mother.
There was this beautiful cream envelope with the Queen crest in red with BUCKINHAM PALACE on the back. Practically the whole street was out by this time all wondering why I was getting this letter. I explained that I had written to the Queen and she was nicely replying to me. I didn’t tell them it was a nice note from the Queen’s secretary but it didn’t matter; I was excited that I got the letter.
I got quite excited by this new idea for getting interesting letter. I started writing to all the heads of states but no luck there. They didn’t write back. No worry, I would try something else to increase my stamp collection.
I dragged out my mother’s large Webster’s Dictionary, which had an atlas in the front with all the maps of the world and a separate one of each of the American States. I would pour over it and find interesting city names and write to the Principal of the High School somewhere in the United States asking if there was someone who collected stamps and would like to write to me.
Occasionally I would write to places in Europe to add to my pen friends.
This worked really well and my friends in all parts of the world increased and certainly brightened up our postman’s life with all these interesting letters arriving. My pocket money went to sending these letters off each week and it did help my stamp collecting.
As I got older and other activities took over my life, the number of pen friends grew smaller but two remained until after I finished school. One was a boy from Stoney Brook, New York and the other a girl from Sweden. I often wonder where they are if they occasionally see a letter with an Australian stamp and think of me.
I recently found out that Australia post sell stamps to Pensioners at a discount. I went up and applied for my discounted stamps. Now I am wondering who I should write to.