by: Robert Stokes
Jack Shipman, stamp dealer in Dallas, Texas, across the street from the old post office gave me a lifetime of pleasure working with postage stamps.
My experience with Jack Shipman really started with a magic act. Everyone knows Mark Wilson the Magician. Well, I met him when we went to Highland Baptist Church in Dallas Texas.
One Sunday, Mark who was 15 at the time stood in the doorway of the Sunday School classroom performing the magic increasing ball act. He stood there waved his left hand over the right and the little ball became two. Once again, and it became three, and once again, it was four.
He facinated me so much with his ability to manipulate playing cards, scarfs, and little balls that I just had to learn how.
One Saturday morning in July, I went downtown to the magic store located on the west side of St. Paul Street across from the post office and federal building. It seems like I stayed a long time looking at the magic paraphanalia behind the glass case.
I saw the little guillotine that Mark would cut the carrot in two and then chop off his finger but it would not fall off and when the guillotine was raised, his finger was completely whole.
Things haven't changed much over the years. I was jumping from one thing to another in those days just as I do today.
But in 1944 I had just finished reading Richard Halliburton's book, The Royal Road to Romance. For me, it was a fascinating story of a young man who traveled around the world. Through his book, Richard Halliburton introduced me to a swim through the Panama Canal, a climb up the Matterhorn, an unlawful entry into the Fortress of Gibraltar, and the wonders of the beauty of the Taj Mahal.
As I headed south on Akard, there in the window of the store next to the magic shop were little pictures of people and places; they were of people that I had heard about but I had never seen a picture and best of all, there were pictures of places I could dream of going.
I don't know how the conversation started, but I remember Jack pulling a gigantic, maroon covered album from the back wall, placing it in front of me and opening it. I was hooked!
From that day on, every Saturday morning, Mother knew I would be down at the "stamp" store.
I started collecting anything my 10 cents would buy. What I got for my money was a stamp and a morning of dreaming of places I saw on the stamps and meeting people I had heard about in history class. And then the climax came in December of that year.
It was Christmas time and there was a present for me inscribed, " Merry Christmas, Robert Cecil, from Ella May, Jo Anne & Joe Jeff, 1944"
It was from my cousins, Ella May, Joe Jeff, and Jo Anne.
That red album, Modern Postage Stamp Album, is on the book shelf here at The Mansions of Wylie. It has survived all the years and moves from one place to another.
"Jack Shipman, you will never know how much pleasure you gave me by taking the time to introduce me to the whole world of stamps."
Today my collection is almost 100% United States unused stamps; book value they are worth a whole lot of money. But, honestly, it is not the money. It is the "places I have been."
I still have the stamps Jack sold to me in those days of the 1940s. And I still remember Jack Shipman. There is no way tha I could ever express to him what stamp collecting has meant to me.