Uncle Chop’s Generosity to Kids

DFH Volume 1 Issue 7

A group of people sitting on a bench

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By Jim Dayton

A painting of a rug

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1847, Ist USA Stamp

My sister, Mary, got me interested in stamp collecting when I was about eight.  By the time I was ten, I was passionate about it.  I even knew when the new issues were coming out, and I went to the local post office to feed my addiction.  During this time, we had a kids Bible memorization contest at church.  Roger Bartlett won.  He was a twelve-year-old stamp collector and Uncle Chop [Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton] knew him well because Uncle Chop was a collector too.  During the Sunday morning service, the week after the contest ended, Uncle Chop gave him his prize.  It was a specimen of the first stamp ever issued by the US government in 1847.  Today its worth about $1,500.  My generous Uncle Chop had given away the best stamp in his collection to a young kid.  Can’t you visualize the envy oozing out of every pore of my being.  Around that same time, Uncle Chop learned that I collected too.  During summer vacation, he came to me and said that he had a box of stamps still on paper, and he wondered if I would soak them off the paper, dry them, sort them and place them in separate glassine envelopes. I was thrilled at the idea.  I wasn’t expecting it, so I was overwhelmed with gratitude when he told me to take one of every duplicate he had.  He had been tearing the corners off letters and packages for years and I now shared in his good fortune.  He was a giver.  A few weeks later, he said to come to the parsonage…that he had something to give me.  He pulled out his good mint stamps and proceeded to shower me with one treasure after the other.  The love and appreciation that I felt at that moment was nothing like I had ever felt.   He taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten that day.  Over the years I’ve collected stamps, coins, baseball cards, matchbox cars, toy soldiers and lots of other stuff.  Whenever I find out a ten-year-old kid has a collecting interest like mine, guess what happens next?  Thanks Uncle Chop, for keeping a little ten-year-old pip-squeak inside me for all these seventy years.  They say you can’t be all things to all people, but Uncle Chop came very close.