Outline of the Hawkeye state

23 10 2008

United States, 1946, Scott 942, 38mm x 23mm, plate block

The map on this stamp from six decades ago shows the outline of the US state of Iowa to commemorate the centenary of statehood. The monochrome blue design is adorned with a state flag and with the border showing a flowering stalk of corn to each side. No topographical features, towns or cities, or much of anything else is depicted. In particular, the great rivers, the Mississippi to the east and the Missouri to the west, are in evidence solely by the shape of the state borders there.

The state is at the center of the region that was hit hard by the floods in early summer of this year with several billion dollars of property damage. The recovery is expected to be fairly slow for the most affected areas, perhaps even slower now that the national and global economic situation has been thrown into turmoil. Were it not for this disaster, the news event of the year for Iowa might have been the way that during the first week of the year, the Iowa caucuses marked the first emergence of Barack Obama as a viable candidate for President.

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Where the Severn flows into the Chesapeake

7 02 2008

Annapolis plate block

United States, Scott 984, 1949, plate block 24098

This issue commemorating the 300th anniversary (tercentenary) of the founding of Annapolis, Maryland, has that old-time feel to it with a sailing ship, fish, boat launch, and blue crab occupying the estuary, each at a gargantuan scale proportionately, and the state arms and a compass rose on the left and right flanks of the design. A legend picks out the location of the original settlement in the area, at the location of the Severn River Naval Complex.

I am fond of this stamp because Annapolis is the first place I ever visited aside from the West Coast, on a trip to the US Naval Academy when I was fifteen years old. It was the first time I was allowed to be away from home for more than a week. I had been selected for a program for high school students who did well in their placement exams which the government put on in order to attract students to apply to the service academy. My thirty-year-old memories are of gas chromatography, model rockets, analog computers, and the orientation literature given to entering plebes, nothing significant about the area (which I’ve visited subsequently and find charming). I also recall a raging argument about some arcane details of the German army activities World War II between two of the other boys attending the program (this was just before women were allowed to become midshipmen), one to which I could unfortunately contribute nothing.

I wore the USNA t-shirt I received on this trip until it fell apart.

On the way home from that trip, I went through Chicago and visited the place that eventually became my alma mater. I was never very serious about pursuing that military academy route, as it turned out, though I have often wondered what would have happened if I had.