Jeffee and the Stolen Stamps!!
I’m so busy with so many interruptions I can’t remember if I told this so what the hell it’s good enough to tell second time even if I told it someplace else in my biography – I’m sure I didn’t tell it exactly the same way so enjoy the story a second time or first-time if this is the first time you’re reading about it.
When I got back out of the Army in 1971, I just happened to wander into this little tiny Post Office about half a block from the main gate of the University of Arizona. I got the shock of my life when I walked into the Post Office and who was behind the counter but my great old buddy Big Al or Al A, the guy I went up to Phoenix with when we got our induction physicals to get drafted into the Army. Now we were both out of the Army alive and well that’s a good sign!
Big Al is always been my hero because he basically lived the life I always wanted to live. He had girlfriends by the dozens and believe me he screwed each and every one of them that he wanted to screw. He also was a great golfer and let me show you the opposite of Jeffee kind of luck.
At one point Big Al came to live with me in my house on 17th St. for about a year. As I remember he wasn’t working at all and I don’t even think he paid rent and I remember one night typical of my luck. I had this little craps layout felt from some kind of a game or other. So me and Al decided to play craps that night against each other and I wound up losing about $800, typical example of my luck. Then Big Al sold the debt to another guy at a discount so he sold it to this guy for $600. Al wanted his cash immediately so I have to pay this other guy back that’s my luck.
Al went to college at the University of Arizona like me but unlike me he hadn’t graduated and he dropped out of the engineering program. I know this is going to sound unreal in these days when you can have a PhD and they don’t want to hire you at McDonald’s to flip hamburgers but Al has the kind of luck that makes events like I’m going to tell you about come true.
He was literally doing nothing but playing poker for money at illegal apartments rented for poker parlors when out of the blue he got this job offer from Phelps Dodge Mining that says Al we will pay for you to finish your last course or two at Arizona and that we will hire you as a mining engineer at one of our open pit copper mines. Al never even listed himself with the placement officer, anything, I don’t even know how Phelps Dodge found him but they did and to make a long story short Al did get his degree and got the job at Phelps Dodge and all he would tell me about was he had a job where he could goof off at the job and make really good money. This was while Jeffee was suffering along as a Park Ranger or an Election worker at a much lower salary with my degree.
Meanwhile back to the stolen stamps that is the title of this chapter. Remember like I said Big Al was behind the counter at the Post Office. I find out from Al that this is what is called a contract Post Office and basically Al and his wife bid low to get the contract on the Post Office and they won the contract I guess by saying you can pay us the least amount of money and we will run the Post Office. So of course I started hanging around the Post Office a lot when I was near the campus to see Big Al and occasionally his wife.
Here is another great Big Al story that shows incredibly just how different Big Al and me are. Al told me the story in a very matter-of-fact fashion and I still find it unbelievable. The day Big Al was supposed to get married he went out and played golf in the morning. He came home after playing golf and sees all these people sitting around in his house in tuxedos and very nice clothing looking angry at him. Al says what’s the matter? One of the guys in the room said: “Al you were supposed to get married two hours ago.” Al said big deal, I’ll go upstairs and throwing my tuxedo and will have the wedding. Al got married two or three hours late.
Al later told me that he wished a round of golf at taken longer because he never should’ve married that gal in the first place and they wound up getting divorced after being married about 10 years and apart a lot longer than that.
Meanwhile back to the stamps. One day I came into the Post Office and Al is reading this stamp weekly newsletter that had gone to the dead magazine section because nobody picked it up. It was called Scott’s Stamp Weekly or something. While Al’s reading it, he notices in the back that all these new commemorative stamps; you know the nice pretty picture stamps that have pictures of famous things or buildings or famous people or famous events or famous wars whatever are selling to collectors in the newsletter at a nice profit.
So Al figures out that say back then stamps were $.25, that he could make a nice profit by selling the four corners of a large sheet of commemorative stamps. The Post Office sold sheets of stamps so that maybe there would be like 100 stamps on the sheet while in one of the corners will is what was called the plate block section which had special number and then the other corners of the she has some kind of special numbering (I think one of the highlighted corners was the zip code corner) or whatever so what collectors like to do is get the last four stamps in the bottom right corner which was called the plate block so for example say the four stamps would cost $1 for four $.25 stamps. Al noticed in the back of the newsletter that collectors would be willing to pay a $1.25 or $1.50 to get the plate block in various classified ads posted by people selling plate blocks and other corners and by people willing to buy plate blocks or other corners at a premium.
So Al came up with this really great idea. He looked in the back of this stamp weekly and found the commemorative stamps that were most popular with collectors. When he made his weekly order for new stamps with the US Post Office to buy for his contract Post Office; he would only order the commemorative stamp sheets that were selling for the highest prices. Al wouldn’t buy the ordinary boring stamps that nobody wanted to collect. Of course the collectors were only interested in maybe 16 of the 100 stamps on the sheets so that still left him with 84 remaining of the hundred stamps. So he had to get rid of 84 stamps after he sold the collector the special four stamp corners on the sheet.
Al came up with a brilliant idea to get rid of the extra stamps that were worth nothing to collectors. What he would do is this: when people would come in to the Post Office to mail a package and say the package needed like $8.75 worth of postage to mail it, Al would not use a Pitney Bowes postage machine and print out a paper label for $8.70. No, Big Al would take some of those remaining 84 stamps and a sponge and he would basically pepper that package with 20-30-40 of the leftover stamps from the remaining ones he sold the plate blocks all and other corners too. It was a brilliant solution to getting rid of the extra stamps and Al was keeping all the extra money made; it was perfectly legal.
So I thought why shouldn’t Jeffee do something like this? But then I said to myself, if I buy these sheets of stamps; a sheet of 100 stamps at $.25 would cost me $25 and I still had to get rid of those 84 stamps I couldn’t sell to the collectors so I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea. I thought; why not sell the extra leftover stamps the doctors?
I know doctors are cheap and they have to send out all sorts of bills every month so I thought what if I offered the doctors say 100 $.25 stamps and only charged him say $23 instead of the $25. The doctor would be eager to buy the stamps because they’re below the cost of the stamps and I could still make a profit by getting rid of these extra stamps from the extra money I would make selling the plate block so I thought I’m a genius!!
I sent I think 100 letters to doctors I looked up in the Yellow Pages of the Tucson phone book. Of course I had to put a stamp on everyone of the letters so now I’m out $25 for stamps that I mailed to the doctors and in each one I put in the letters offering to sell stamps for less than the cost of the stamps but of course I didn’t tell the doctors why I was doing it.
Well that idea went over like a lead balloon like most of my ideas go and I never heard back from any doctor ever. So once again I’m out money in this case $25 and I kind of forgot about another one of my famous schemes to make money that as usual turned out to bring in no money and actually cost me money. A typical Jeffee genius idea.
One day I’m in the Post Office bullpooping with Al when he said “Have you been doing anything illegal lately, did you do anything that attracted the attention of the postal authorities?”
I told him of course not, what you talking about? So Big Al tells me that one day a postal inspector came into the Post Office and talked with him. He said the postal inspector started asking about me and said that some doctor had filed the complaint that I was selling stamps for less than the cost of the stamps. The postal inspector told Al that a lot of times when people steal stamps from the Post Office they try and unload them by selling them at a discount. Do you think Jeff is the type of person that could rob the Post Office and steal stamps?
So Al pretended to be totally dumbfounded and pretended he only knew me very casually but said Jeffee didn’t strike him as the type of person that would rob the Post Office.
So there is the essence of poop and shinola in the universe! Al gets this shinola of selling plate blocks for a nice profit with an easy way to get rid of the extra stamps and Jeff gets turned in by a doctor who thinks Jeff to stealing postage stamps. My only crime was being born!!
My first published article appeared in the July, 1965 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine for model train hobbyists. I was 17 years old.
I totally confused my New Jersey parents and went to college at the University of Arizona – had never been further west than Philadelphia. Got a degree in History & Government and started law school. Interrupted by the Nixon lotto when I drafted into the Army in 1970. After two amazing years (in Vol. 2 of my autobiography), I went back to law school. Finished 1 1/2 years of law school (guess I’m a half-assed lawyer) and worked for the City of Tucson in the City Clerk’s office. Then weirdly got hired as a Park Ranger out of the blue (also somewhere in the autobiography of 3 volumes.
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