Condition #2: I’ve always thought of postal workers as celebrities. Especially post-masters.
I think it’s because, when I was 7, I met the first woman I ever knew who held an official position of power. She was the post-mistress in the town of Hathaway Pines, CA (Pop. 100 / Alt: 5,280). She also had a wooden leg, which added to her celebrity and gave her an excuse to always wear pants. Which made her even more of a celebrity.
Although it just occurs to me, that, since I never saw her wooden leg, that might have been a convenient excuse someone gave me as to why she never wore skirts. Or I might have made the wooden leg up myself as a plausible explanation for how she dressed.
But for the moment, let’s just say she had a wooden leg, OK? I think it was her left leg. And she was the all-powerful postmistress, bringer of MAIL.
After we left Hathaway Pines, we moved to places where the mail just came and went mysteriously on its own. Years and years of appearing-and-disappearing mail.
Until I moved to Pt. Reyes Station (94956) in 1971 or ‘72, where George Gallagher was the postmaster. At the time, we always had to ask for our mail. I can’t remember why. That’s just the way it was. We’d go to the post office, wait in line, get up to the window and ask for our mail.
Although, now that I think of it … we might not have had to wait in line. I might have always just forgotten my key.
In any case, that’s how I got my mail.
Normally, I tried not to waste too much of George’s time because he was a celebrity. But one day a new postage stamp appeared, with George Gershwin on it. George Gershwin was, at that time, my greatest hero. I wanted to be George Gershwin. So I rushed to the post office, stood in line, and held out the stamp to George Gallagher.
“George,” I said, “Look at this! Gershwin on a postage stamp! This is amazing. It’s incredible. I want to be on a postage stamp. How can I make that happen?”
“Well,” George said, taking his time “I guess the first thing you’d need to do is die.”
“Only dead people can be on postage stamps?”
“Oh,” I said.
So, that’s something to look forward to.
Eventually I moved away, went off to school, and further off to Boston (02140), but I would come back to Pt. Reyes to visit. And one time, as I was driving down the hill into town I saw George Gallagher in his own garden! THE George Gallagher … the POST MASTER!
I didn’t stop, even though I was thrilled to see him – because I had no idea what to say. Because he was a celebrity.
And so I drove on.
And that’s the part that hurts. Because the next time I went to Pt. Reyes, George Gallagher had died.
Which makes me think … as I write this .. that I wish I could see him on a postage stamp.
I recently learned that you no longer have to die to get onto a postage stamp. They changed the rules in 2011. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ll soon be able to personalize your postage stamps with your own image. So move over, Gershwin!
Now … I wonder if there’s a way to retroactively get Fred Astaire to dance at one of my concerts …
I’m performing Sat. Jun. 22nd, 2013 at the Pt. Reyes Dance Palace – where I gave my first-ever solo concert nearly 4 decades ago — right down the street from George Gallagher’s garden … and down the other street from the post office.
And Wed. June 26 at the Museum of Making Music (MOMM) in Carlsbad, CA (near San Diego).