|Curator's Corner — Farewell to a dear friend ...|
|Saturday, July 06, 2013 12:39 AM|
This has been a very busy couple of weeks starting with scouting out Williamsburg the destination of our MPH Tour followed by the Relay for Life last weekend. Then there is July 4th Independence Day weekend to cap things off. For me, it was also a sad week as I realize how far we still have to go to cure cancer once and for all. Some of you may be aware of the US Postal Service commitment to the “cure”. For years we sold semi-postal stamps on breast cancer awareness that raised millions of dollars for cancer research. Much closer to home, that terrible disease has taken another very dear friend. Megaera M. Ausman was the historian and librarian for the US Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, DC. I met Meg over the phone when I started to work on the 60th anniversary and rededication of the Delphos Post Office. Believe it or not, that event was 20 years ago on Nov. 11, 1993.
The Delphos Area came out in full force to help with the celebration. Dave Wanamaker had the original program that was printed for the dedication of the building back on Nov. 12, 1933. We had it reproduced and I still have a few copies tucked away in the archives. The Delphos Herald put out a separate tabloid with articles about the current post office and they also reproduced some of the articles that were in the Herald back in ’33. You will find both of these publications in the Delphos Room of the museum. There was a live broadcast on WDOH of each of the speakers in our dedication ceremony. Our local Congressmen were there, all the county commissioners and people from all over Ohio. All those exhibits that were both in the lobby and in each of the rooms downstairs would not have been possible without the tremendous amount of help given to me by Meg, She was an incredible wealth of information, and loaned us several unique items to display. Today, we have thousands of items to display and I doubt we will ever have enough room to display them all.
That’s how the business of a museum got started, a common interest with a lady whose manner and grace were extraordinary. Her smile would light up a dark room and her laugh was infectious. As my interest and desire to create a museum in the Delphos Post Office increased so did the number of trips to DC, the artifacts on loan, and my contact with Meg. She was a woman of compassion, of sensitivity, and a heart as big as Texas (actually she was born and raised near Cleveland, Ohio – “the heart of it all”). She opened doors for me that she couldn’t even open for herself. I remember a trip to DC when I was allowed into the subterranean vault of stamps located below L’enfant Plaza and the headquarter’s building. I know I wrote an article about that visit because I had the opportunity to see things that only a handful of people had ever seen. There was a separate collection which was soon to be donated to the Smithsonian known as the Postmaster General’s collection — uncut stamp sheets signed by Franklin Roosevelt and PMG James A. Farley. There were stamps that had never been issued and rarities of every shape and kind. When I got back to Meg’s office that day, she was jealous. I remember the look on her face as I described that day’s experience. She sat captivated at her desk soaking in all she could since she was never allowed in the vault. All the time we sat and talked I couldn’t help but notice a life-size cardboard cutout of William C. Hopson one of the first US Airmail pilots. That was a picture of her “guy” – her personal pride and joy of an artifact.
On several trips to DC, my daughter Sara would accompany me. The three of us would go to lunch and I would have to leave to go to a meeting. Neither of them would even look up as I left; it was like I wasn’t even there. The 30 years difference in age meant nothing to either of them. Meg was comfortable and entertaining with my entire family but most of all with my 4-year-old grandson. You would have thought she was the child’s grandmother by the number of pictures she had of him on her desk and at home.
Those of you who were in attendance at our first Gala Celebration – A Night at the Museum had the opportunity to hear Meg speak about our relationship both socially but mostly professionally as two geeks that found this history stuff absolutely fascinating.
Items on Meg’s bucket list when she retired in late 2011 were a trip to Alaska and to fly up onto a glacier. She was one of the main reasons we are heading to Alaska this month. Meg died on May 31, 2013, of an extremely fast-growing form of cancer. Meg was more than a friend – she was family. We will all miss her deeply; yet I know she will be right next to me as we fly over Mt. McKinley and land on a glacier. Maybe she can get pilot Bill Hopson to fly her around while we are there.