I just got a letter from Sam!
Yep, that Sam. The one who had a voice like sandpaper, and a heart of gold. Donald “Sam” Samis, of Thedford, Ontario. The guy who ordered all the “D SAM” graphic plates that you might see in collections from time to time. The same good fella who left us six years ago this past winter.
Sam’s not exactly contacting me from beyond the grave. He used his conventional method of contact (pen and paper)—It's just that I just didn’t receive his message until today. I was in my basement, gathering traders for the upcoming Acton meet. I keep a box labelled “ephemera”, and slowly, I’ve put a bunch of plate-related trinkets and papers into it, such as news clippings, business cards from collectors, flyers from past plate meets, ALPCA convention name tags, plate toppers, and lots of letters from collectors over the years. As I dug through the box, with the thought of maybe thinning it out, I found a letter at the bottom. It was a compact envelope from Sam, just like a dozen others that I have. He always taped little pictures of plates onto the back of his envelopes. This letter had a couple of interesting low-number plates, which I didn’t recognize. And then I noticed… the letter was unopened.
My eyes widened. I always open my mail. How could this one have gotten by me, let alone fall unnoticed into my ephemera box? The front of the envelope had a yellow “return to sender” label affixed to it. Apparently, Sam had sent this letter to my old address downtown before he realized I moved. Sam had scrawled my corrected address across the front of the envelope, and eventually the letter had gotten to me. We hadn’t lived in the new house for long, and it’s quite possible that the letter was mislaid under a pile of other plate-related stuff, before sometime being hastily dumped in the ephemera box without being noticed.
I used my Turkish letter-opener, which my late grandmother had given to me as a post-vacation gift many years ago, and opened the envelope carefully. Inside was a single piece of paper, handwritten, and dated March 4, 2005, about a week before the envelope’s second-time-round postmark of March 12. It was around this time that we were all gearing up for Acton—just the third one ever—where the late Mike Stevely would introduce us to an 1932 Canada Imperial Economic Conference plate. Gary Edwards would bring an astounding 1921 Ontario dealer plate. And Eric Vettoretti and I would split a pair of 1939 Ontario doctor plates that we found on our way to the meet the day before. Ah, the memories.
I held the letter, over 12 years late, and read new words from Sam.
To put Sam’s remarks into context: The February 2005 issue of PLATES magazine contained a write-up that I contributed about the swap meet in St. Catharines the previous October. Sam was pleased with the write-up, as there hadn’t been one to mark the previous (and inaugural) year of that meet. Sam took care of the promotion, sending out several dozens of flyers.
The same issue of PLATES also contained a one-page biography of yours truly, submitted for the “Meet a Member” feature. Near the end of the article, I made mention of the just-passed year 2004 as being a great year to be an ALPCAn, in light of it being the 50th anniversary of ALPCA’s founding, and I hoped to still be around for the 100th—although I’ll be 80 if I make it that far.
Sam also acknowledges his declining health, but in the very same paragraph, he tells me that he ordered a new Toronto Blue Jays graphic plate—as a result of the team changing their logo for a third time.
As always, Sam signs off with “Tincerely”. I must say, it’s been six years since he’s been gone, and I still miss him. I tincerely do.