LONE JACK, Mo. This town of 528 inhabitants southeast of Kansas City presents an idyllic face to a first-time visitor, with boys playing marbles on street corners and girls performing elaborate “Double Dutch” jump-rope routines in bare-dirt backyards.
Lone Jack (not shown actual size)
“This place hasn’t changed much since I was growing up,” says Claude Boul, a retired insurance agent who celebrated his 86th birthday last weekend. “We have two full-time village idiots now instead of one, but that’s about it.”
Site of the Battle of Lone Jack
That small-town tranquility was shattered recently, however, when a rumor began to spread that a national philatelist group would hold its annual convention at the Motel 6 on the edge of town.
“You never heard about this kind of thing when I was growing up,” says Jim Lee Howell, a sorghum farmer. “Now you got all them priests and coaches and teachers doing it–it’s sickening.”
Philately (pronounced “phi-LAT-a-lee”), the collection and study of postage stamps, is often confused–with sometimes tragic results–with pederasty, a word with Greek roots that refers to erotic love between men and boys.
Fun with stamp collecting.
“We were run out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin,” says Earl Buntrock, a life-long stamp collector who tried to explain the distinction between the two activities to the manager of the Holiday Inn his group, the American Philatelists Association, had booked for a stamp show. “Then they turned over our $250 deposit to the police.”
In Lone Jack, a committee of concerned citizens was formed to halt the spread of philately, with volunteers giving speeches to church groups and civic organizations. “We don’t want our little town turned into New York City, or Hot Springs,” said Lowell Hammer, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
A potential catastrophe was averted when a national stamp-collectors rights group, the Mucilage Justice Committee, distributed educational pamphlets detailing the long and innocent history of stamp-collecting, and its role as a bulwark of freedom during the Communist threat of the ’50’s.
“My Bad” Breakfast: “Hey, Merle–don’t bend over with one of them philatelists behind you!”
“You guys are lucky,” said Opal Lamine, Saline County Recorder, to the philatelists as they moved through the buffet line at a “My Bad!” friendship breakfast designed to smooth over hard feelings. “You don’t want to know what we did to a numismatist last week.”