These Membership Cards Should Stay In Your Wallet
One of the great comforts of the internet is that no matter how obscure your interests are, you're going to find some virtual friends out there who like the same stuff. Lots of folks who thought they were the only people in the world interested in [insert oddball anti-social pastime here], are now part of online communities and real-world clubs too. The net has made it easier than ever to find others and organize real world get-togethers between like-minded hobbyists.
What if your new shared-interest friends aren't quite specific enough for your tastes? You're about to discover the joy of the splinter group... My father was, quite literally, a card-carrying philatelist. Sure, there was the unparalleled joy of tweezing his way through all of those miniature sticky-backed engravings, but there sure seemed to be a lot of multi-ethnic riff-raff around. So here's his membership card from the really specific First (there were more?) Czechoslovak Philatelic Club Of America. The membership card is from 1973, but the club actually dates back to 1924, and was founded right here in Chicago. Follow this link to thrill to one of their newsletters from the 60s.
Like a lot of hobbies, your interest eventually focuses less on the hobby itself, and more on the friends you've made along the way. So I imagine that stamp night was more about my father hanging out with his stamp-crazy singing buddies (I did mention that he was a card carrying member of a Czech singing club, right?) swapping stamps, telling ribald stories of Ben Franklin (that's a Postmaster General joke right there...), and have a few laughs.Growing up, I always wanted to be part of some club too, but I was remarkably unliked. Okay, so in high school in the 80s I was in Doctor Who club - not exactly a bid for Mr. Popularity. I was a card-carrying member of the Doctor Who Fan Club of America (I'm still waiting for my newsletters, guys!). Before that, I did carry around a sort-of membership card. In reality it was from a pack of Pac-Man bubblegum cards and was my way of claiming to be a bad-ass at arcade Pac-Man. You'll note my best attempt at Pac-Man style lettering (I used to go by my middle name back then in a vain bid to fit in... *sigh*) to really cement my nerdery.Most recently, I was a card-carrying member of the Chicago Accordion Club (which was pretty much all 80 year old men, plus me...), so I probably shouldn't be too haughty about my old man's Czech stamp collector card. Looks like the weird apple doesn't fall far from the twisted tree. I guess that I collect peculiar membership cards with my last name on them.
[Addendum: Moments before I published this post, I moved some stuff in my office only to have this set of "collectible" stamps that had been missing for years end up in my lap. I should probably cogitate on what this all means, but I'm going to go have a lie down.]