Julia in the Mail!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


So I’m at the post office a week or two ago to mail some things and pick up some stamps. Hearts and flowers are okay but usually they have better options too. I like to see what they have that’s interesting. I’m checking the board where they put up which stamps they have on hand, mostly seeing things that didn’t do much for me — Charton Heston, Wilt Chamberlain, Battle of New Orleans.

But then what catches the corner of my eye but Julia Child!

It’s the Celebrity Chef series!

Of course I had to get that.

I’m not so keen on the picture, though. I wish they had taken one from the early French Chef days, maybe the mallet-wielding one that’s on the cover of The French Chef cook book.

Très formidable.

She looks a bit bloated in this picture. I bet it wasn’t one of her favorites.

And the celebrity chefs stamp series reminded me of a story from 15 (or more) years ago, when I got a card in the mail from my friend Molly, and the stamp on it was Emily Post. And I’m like what in the world…? What stamp series is this? Advice mavens?

So I send a quick email and thank Molly for the card and ask about the stamp and she says that is so funny that I noticed that because she and her husband had just been having a conversation about how neurotic she was about stamps and how she refused to use boring flag stamps and Ari was like why do you bother with this, no one is going to notice anyway. And then like three hours later I emailed and asked about the stamp.

I responded, “Of course I would notice an Emily Post stamp. I was wondering if maybe it was the ‘Etiquette Series’ and I was going to run right out and get a few Miss Manners stamps, or possibly the ‘Advice Mavens Series’ where I could expect — in addition to Emily Post — Ann Landers, Heloise, Beth (from Ask Beth) and all my other newspaper friends.”

She said it was from a series on the 1920s, and she was holding onto the stock market crash stamp trying to decide who deserved that one.

I said I was a bit disappointed, but maybe the USPS just hadn’t thought of the Advice Mavens series yet.

And on that note, I will leave you with a great live version of this classic from John Prine

with these words to live by:

Unhappy, unhappy you have no complaint,
You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t.
So listen up buster and listen up good,
stop wishin’ for bad luck and knockin’ on wood.

7 Responses to “Julia in the Mail!”

  1. Molly Says:

    I was going to add a comment along the lines of “No way! How do I not know about this? I’m usually up on all the oddball new stamps.” and then I saw my name…. Even though nobody sends actual mail anymore, I’ve still got the stamp thing.

    I used the Harry Potter stamps for many of my Christmas cards and made myself absolutely bonkers with the guilt of who got the Malfoy and Bellatrix stamps, and I eventually was forced to just not look at slap whatever stamp was next onto whatever card was next. Switched over to Hendrix and Janis Joplin and got to breathe easier.

  2. Molly Says:

    Well, I now see why I didn’t know about these. It’s the most super-stealthy stamp issue I’ve ever seen. Doesn’t appear on any of the screens for USPS stamp sales unless you actually search specifically for “celebrity chefs.”

    I recently ordered something off eBay that the guy sent using 10-cent Sleepy Hollow stamps from 1974. I think he was a kindred spirit and just couldn’t resist the perfection of using a Sleepy Hollow stamp on an envelope going to the actual town of Sleepy Hollow. (And to put the cherry on the sundae, it was around Halloween, which is high season for this part of the world.) This guy had held on to these stamps for OVER FORTY YEARS waiting for the right recipient.

  3. lessisenough Says:

    Do you think the guy had been waiting since 1974 to find the perfect use for the Sleepy Hollow stamp? I’m not sure which is more amazing, that he waited that long or that he eventually had reason to mail something to Sleepy Hollow.

    I once used snake stamps on my holiday cards. Grinch move, there. As far as I know, no one noticed.

    And I do love buying fun stamps, even though sometimes I feel like I’m being a pain in the butt. Do you have those? What about those? I like that at least they give me some idea of what they should have by putting them up on the bulletin board.

    I think my favorite (relatively) recent issue was the Modern Art in America: http://www.stampnewsnow.com/generateditems/2013%20USPS%20ImagesWeb/13_Modern_Art_Sheet.jpg

    I also like the sheets that together make a picture, like the Cherry Blossom one: http://www.stampnewsnow.com/generateditems/2012%20USPS%20ImagesWeb/12_cherry_blossoms_L.jpg

    There is a small ad in a recent New Yorker that says something like, “Don’t you want to write a letter to someone?”. I’m too lazy to try to find it right now to get the exact wording but it totally caught my eye, and it did make me want to write a letter. Someday.

  4. Molly Says:

    I think that he probably bought the stamps to save, not to use, and had them stuck away somewhere, but was so intrigued by the fact that someone actually lived in the real Sleepy Hollow and that he needed to send a letter to that someone, that he decided it was now or never and used them as postage. The gigantic stack of specific stamps each waiting as long as it takes to find their fated recipient is a more magical story, but either one involves someone being both mindful of the symbolism of special stamps and deeply satisfied when a perfect match presented itself, which makes me happy.

    I loved the Modern Art stamps and also wiped out my supply of those on Christmas cards. (We sent 500; I went through many flavors of stamps.) My most special people got the Man Ray and only consistently happy people got the Gerald Murphy with the razors. And this is why it took me two days to stamp 500 envelopes.

  5. lessisenough Says:

    Well I wasn’t actually thinking that he had been sitting there waiting for 40 years for the perfect moment to use this particular stamp, just commenting on the fact that he had a stamp for 40 years that he used to mail something. So not sure whether the length of time he had it, or the fact that he eventually used it, is more remarkable.

    Though the scenario where a man sits with a stack of specific stamps waiting for a chance to use them, one by one, is certainly appealing. Feels like some kind of Southern gothic short story. Faulkner or Eudora Welty or someone.

  6. frederica987 Says:

    I want to receive a postcrossing postcard with that Julia-stamp on it someday! :D

  7. lessisenough Says:

    I know! She is so great.

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