Saturday, May 18, 2013
I love stamps. Each time I visit the post office, I inevitably buy more, just because a new design is so clever or lovely. My mom and I maintain a strong handwritten correspondence (since I left home for college almost 28 years ago), and I have saved every letter. Partly because the letters contain our history and partly because I love the stamps. Despite the opinions of naysayers, I think sending a letter is a good thing. I do not know a single person who does not like to receive a real letter in the mail (as opposed to junk mail or bills).
Eben McAllister, the main character in Betty Birney's book The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, is on a quest for seven wonders in his small town. Having been transfixed with the images and descriptions of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, he was challenged by his father to find seven in Sassafras Springs, Missouri. If Eben can do it, his father will buy a train ticket for him to visit cousins in Silver Peak, Colorado. The year is 1923, and Eben believes if there were wonders to be found, he would have known about them by now. Still, he cannot resist the possibility of travel.
When he reaches the leaning-to-the-right shack of a man named Cully Pone (whose trousers are held up by a piece of rope and still hang dangerously low), Cully immediately claims to have a wonder...."the doggone doggonedest" of wonders, in fact. Eben listens to the fascinating story of a rainmaker who came to a Missouri county after years of drought, when the creek was so dry there was not enough there to wet a postage stamp. That is when the fourth grade listeners look at me with curiosity. They have licked envelopes, but stamps simply come from that sheet, like stickers. I explain that we used to have to lick stamps...and not that long ago either (or at least it seems that way to me).
With only 12 school days remaining, I regret that we will only join Eben for his discovery of three wonders. The readers will need to check out the book from the library this summer to finish the story.