Love of Stamps Sparks Friendship
On a recent Friday morning in Abilene, Phil McCauley and Lou David Allen were sitting in McCauley’s home in a room that could be a guest bedroom, instead its filled with hundreds of thousands of stamps. Old, new, faded or shiny, valuable and worthless alike.
The hobby is known as Philatelics.
“But we just usually say stamp collecting,” Allen said.
Allen lives in Merkel,Texas and he visits McCauley about once a week to talk stamps. The friends met five years ago after McCauley put an ad in the newspaper offering to trade or sell duplicate stamps.
“He was the only one who responded to that ad,” McCauley said. “He came over, looked, we started talking, found out we had quite a bit in common.”
Both in their seventies, and semi-retired, they started their own club with the goal of promoting the hobby of stamp collecting.
“Phil is really the intelligence in our little club because he really studies stamps, Allen said. “I don’t. I’m pretty well interested in the older stamps, 1940’s and back and what we call “covers,” envelopes, post cards with stamps still on them, sometimes with the letters still in them.”
Allen said he’s different from McCauley because McCauley's collection is kept much more orderly. McCauley credits his organization skills to his time serving in the military. His stamps are meticulously categorized and archived.
Stamp collecting was a popular pastime for their generation. Both men loved the hobby in their youth but eventually careers and family left little time to keep it up.
Later however, both men were drawn back to stamp collecting through unexpected circumstances.
Allen had cancer and was facing a surgery that would keep him on bed rest for a while so he decided to get out his old stamp collection.
“I was totally hooked after that and so I started really getting into it again, writing articles, met Phil and now we’re solid, solid collectors,” Allens said.
McCauley had also reached a low point in his health when he decided to get serious again about the collection.
“I had a lot of medical problems was laying around getting fat, waiting to die," McCauley said. “I got back into stamps and with David’s help, I have done real well, the health has improved and the stamps are just everywhere.”
McCauley said mystery is a large part of his intrigue over stamps. He’s filled with questions when he spots a stamp, especially one still on a letter.
“It’s curiosity about where it came from, how did it come about, what was it used for- was it somebody paying their electric bill with it or a Dear John letter to some guy stationed overseas,” McCauley said.
They’ve both learned world history and geography through the hobby and they believe stamps can be a powerful storytelling tool for younger generations.
Above all the reasons to participate in stamp collecting, Allen and McCauley agree that the best outcome of their mutual hobby has been meeting one another.