Two Infinities

Tue, 08 Nov 2005

Andrew Mazzara retires from HFCC

Andrew Mazzara, president of Henry Ford Community College, was a guest on KiwaniTalk last week where he discussed his imminent retirement. He has been president of HFCC since 1990. Remarkably, he is also an alumnus of HFCC.

Mr Mazzara plans to spend more time volunteering with various community organizations as one might expect, but he will be spending time in two other ways that pricked my interested; he will be starting a new business, and he will be spending time on his hobby of, get this, stamp collecting.

I felt some simpatico with Mr Mazzara starting a new business at an older age, but of course I'm being silly; there is no comparison of our positions after that. But stamp collecting, what a curious thing for a college president to be interested in. Philately has always seemed, well, rather pointless, indicative of lack of imagination and ambition, of virility.

Now, though, I have my father's stamp collection. Many stamps are carefully sorted into small envelopes by country. Mostly, though, there is the Paragon Album, copyright 1931. Might have belonged to a boy, the extra nephew among his aunts 13 children shoehorned into a row house in working class Chester, PA. Nathan Hale, 1/2 cent; Washington, 1 1/2 cents, 200th birthday, 1932; Pony Express 80th anniversary in 1940; Boulder Dam, 1935; Panama Canal 25th anniversary in 1939. Looks more like a high schooler moved back in with father, sister, brother.

Education and travel, unlike for Mr. Mazzara, was not on the radar screen (yes, there were radar screens around, but not many: history of radar). But stamps brought the world to Chester. Stamps for Palestine, Dutch Indies, Bavaria, Cameroon, Ceylon, China (when there was only one), Congo, Republic of Cuba, Middle Congo, Persia, Federated Malay States. His window on a vast mysterious world; mine on an equally remote idiosyncratic past. Maybe not a damascene moment, but there is more to this than I had given it credit for.

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