I was my dad’s namesake. He was George and I was Georgia. He called me, “Georgie Girl.” Dad and I had a lot in common. I’m grateful he encouraged me to become a writer. It all began when I was eight years old…
School was out for the summer and I received an “A+” for penmanship on my year-end report card. During that school year after I finished my regular homework, Dad encouraged me to practice writing in cursive for extra credit.
While Dad looked at my report card, he beamed with pride, then gave me a high five, “Good job, Georgie Girl. All that extra work paid off.”
Since Dad was an avid letter writer, he insisted I join him after breakfast and write letters. Dad’s letters were mostly written to the Letters to the Editor sections of local newspapers. He didn’t intentionally write to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but not everyone shared Dad’s unique perspectives on important issues – which editors relished.
However, my eight-year-old mindset wasn’t to write letters on the first day of summer vacation, but Mother Nature foiled my plans. A thunderstorm rolled in and Dad got my undivided attention. He taught me how to write a letter to my favorite aunt and how to submit an illustrated story to the Kid’s Activity Page editor at the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, which featured drawings, riddles, jokes, stories, and poems.
When the storm subsided, I followed Dad to his roll-top desk where he kept postage stamps under lock and key. “Stamps are valuable and can’t be wasted,” he cautioned, handing me two stamps to lick and adhere to my envelopes. Then we sprinted the 250 yards to the mailbox mounted on a post at the end of our long driveway.
“May I write more letters tomorrow?” I asked, as I placed the letters in the mailbox and lifted the red metal flag to signify there was mail to be picked up.
“Of course,” he said. “Tomorrow, I’ll give you two more stamps.”
The following morning, I was surprised to find three envelopes already affixed with stamps awaiting me on the kitchen table.
After breakfast, I wrote letters to three cousins. Since Dad was busy with farm chores, I walked to the mailbox by myself. On the trek back, my mind swirled with thoughts and ideas for stories, poems, and illustrations for the Kid’s Activity Page editor. Also, since postage stamps were off-limits…why not save money and make my own postage stamps?
It was easy to craft a dozen postage stamps resembling people from the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog, and all it took was a dab of glue to attach them to the envelopes. If I hurried, I could make it to the mailbox before the mailman delivered the mail.
When I returned from the mailbox, I joined Dad for lunch on the front porch.
Suddenly, our lunch was interrupted by the mailman racing his Jeep up the driveway.
“What’s your hurry?” Dad shouted as we approached the vehicle.
The mailman revved his engine, handed Dad the familiar twelve envelopes, then glared at me, “Young lady, you can be arrested for making fake stamps.”
I buried my face in the crook of Dad’s arm and sobbed.
“It seems you owe the mailman an apology,” Dad said.
Through tears and hurried gulps for air, I apologized and promised I’d stop making fake postage stamps.
As we watched the Jeep disappear from sight, I braced myself for a sound scolding from Dad. I was certain I wouldn’t be allowed to write, ever again.
Instead, Dad tousled my hair and handed me the envelopes, “Those were some mighty clever stamps you made,” he chuckled, “From this day forward, please ask me for stamps, okay?”
After we finished lunch, I opened those twelve envelopes I’d intended for the Kid’s Activity Page Editor, cousins, and classmates and handed what I’d written to Dad. How elated I was by his response when he finished reading my twelve short stories, “You’re pretty good at this writing stuff. Keep it up.”
Long after I was launched into adulthood and left the nest, Dad always took great pleasure in telling people about my life of crime being short-lived as a counterfeiter and how it attributed to my success. Then he’d laugh uproariously, “One day she’ll write about it.”
Indeed. Dad was right.