By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
In the mid 1940s, my father purchased a small house in Tyler for his family before he cast off to the Norfolk Naval Yard to join the crew of the AKA 97, an attack cargo landing craft. He was to be involved in WWII by being in the huge flotilla of ships in the Pacific Ocean, preparing to land troops in Japan. But a typhoon delayed the invasion and soon the war was over.
We did not know where he was as his V-Mail letters were short and edited of any precise information. “V” stood for “victory” as the micro-filmed correspondence saved valuable cargo space on the ships.
In the interim, my brother, Mike, and I played ping pong and softball at Tyler Hillside Park near our house. It had an unique playing field — a large drainage ditch separated the left infield from the outfield! That made the outfielders very vigilant.
Across the street from the park was a two-story house where Mrs. Angela Kaemmerlen, a widow, lived with her daughter, Catherine Royce. Our mother learned that Angela’s husband had left her his nice stamp collection and she was selling it, stamp by stamp, to help with her groceries.
We were neophytes to the world of philatelics. She actually gave us more stamps than we bought. But the colorful stamps opened up to us all the countries of the world. We learned about their names and history and products from those little pieces of paper.Stamp collecting knew no borders!
Later, as a seminarian in Rome, I noticed that all our mail bore the 15-cent green airmail stamp of the 1950s. I contacted the H.E. Harris Stamp Co. and they offered to buy used stamps from me in bundles of 100, soaked off the envelopes.
I recruited my classmates with the promise that any money gained would go to the Mission Account. I set up boxes on the hall bulletin boards and my friends kept them full.
At that time we had to use the Vatican Post Office for our mail to the states. Consequently, our families had complete sets of these (once valuable) stamps. Times have changed. Who writes letters? Who collects stamps? If you do, I would like to make a deal with you.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.