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Martin Van Buren is hiding in my house...sort of!!
With all the craziness in the world every now and again it is silliness affords a much-needed reprieve. My granddaughter, Marley, and I enjoyed such an experience when we found Martin Van Buren hiding in the ceiling of my upstairs hallway. And you say, “What?” Ok so let me back up a bit.
To help her Mema and to earn a little spending money my oldest granddaughter, Marley has been spending afternoons with me. Those that have read my columns over the last several years know about the slow, sometimes painful, attempts at restoring this grand old house. Just so you know the status of that enterprise, the four main rooms downstairs are now all lovely with plaster repairs and beautifully painted. I am still working on the furnishings, but it is getting there.
The seemingly never-ending restoration and rehab work have progressed into two departments: getting rid of STUFF that has been accumulating for decades and working on a room or two on the second floor. Anyone who has engaged in the horrific and depressing endeavor of throwing things away understands a cheerleader, morale booster and the loud voice that affirms, “You don’t really need that anymore,” is critical to success. I laugh when I am reminded of how much I thought that little figurine or the wire -reel tape recorder was worth. Ha: I will be lucky if I can avoid having to pay someone to take it off my hands!
But back to Van Buren. We had tackled the upstairs hall, the ceiling to be exact. It was once wall papered and then painted over and the paper was cracking and peeling. Marley’s job was to remove it. Once the surface was clean and smooth, we will apply paint.
As she was peeling a rather large piece, I notice something unusual on the back of the paper. Curiosity has killed this cat numerous times, but that old satisfaction keeps bringing me back. We both huddled over the paper and determined that the image was of a partial sheet of stamps. We could discern May 49 (before my family bought the farm) 8 Cent and Baltimore, MD in black letters. To say we were perplexed was an understatement.
Confusing findings: stamps in 1949 cost 3 cents and why did it say Baltimore, MD?
Some clarification: the Baltimore, MD was a cancellation stamp. When that was confirmed I looked beyond it to the figure on the stamp itself and with the help of magnification could read the tiny print Martin Van Buren 1837-1841. That was a home run. The stamp was issued in 1938 and the years designated his service as President of the United States. Why it carried 8 cents, I have no idea; stamps in 1938 were 3 cents, but no matter. The bigger mystery is why the stamps were stuck on the back of the wallpaper in my upstairs hall? I doubt that any amount of research will provide the answer to that one. Yet, forever more every time I walk through the hall I will think of Martin Van Buren!!
Until next week, be well and do not forget to laugh!