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Post office in Summit County offers historic eclipse commemoration for stamp collectors

The pictorial cancellation that will be offered at the Peninsula post office features an outhouse over the Cuyahoga River. Above it, there are a series of eclipses.
Ed Andros
The pictorial cancellation will be offered at the Peninsula post office from April 8 to May 8, 2024.

Stamp collectors across the U.S. are mailing Peninsula’s post office to get a special eclipse cancellation stamp. The stamp also plays on Peninsula’s ongoing sewer problems.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has been expecting an increase in visitors for the eclipse. That got Peninsula resident and stamp collector Ed Andros thinking about the influx of visitors to his village, which is surrounded by the national park.

"Things came to a head with the eclipse, because people were saying we could expect up to 150,000 people coming to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park," he said.

He decided to ask the post office if they’d issue a pictorial cancellation for the occasion, the special marking placed on postage to show it’s been used.

The Peninsula post office is one of three in Ohio to offer a pictorial cancellation for the eclipse, U.S. Postal Service strategic communications specialist Naddia Dhalai said. There are also special eclipse stamps in Avon Lake and in Sycamore in Northwest Ohio. Any community can request a pictorial postmark for any event or special occasion, she said.

The Peninsula design references both the eclipse and the village's ongoing issues accessing sewage and water, Andros said. The village's use of individual septic systems and a lack of a municipal water supply has been a problem for the village for decades.

“Underneath a series of sun images that the moon is eclipsing in an arc is this outhouse that projects out over the Cuyahoga River," he said.

The design is based on a water color that Daniel Webster "Web" Brown, longtime Akron Beacon Journal editorial cartoonist, painted for John J. "Terry" Montaquilla, original owner of Terry Lumber and Supply Co. The water color depicts an outhouse over the Cuyahoga River that Montaquilla said he built in 1924 when he was a freshman at Peninsula High School for the saloon in town. The outhouse was torn down sometime after 1933, he recounted.

The watercolor Web Brown painted for Terry Montaquila shows an outhouse built over the Cuyahoga River.
Ed Andros
The watercolor Web Brown painted for Terry Montaquila in 1973 shows the outhouse Montaquila built in 1924.

Andros hopes the cancellation will poke fun at Peninsula's history and ongoing problems and start a conversation in the sometimes divided village.

"We have some issues in our community that we might be able to make light of in order to kind of pull ourselves together as a community to try to problem solve," he said.

Plans are underway to move the village from individual septic systems to a centralized wastewater management system, a contentious decision among residents. Andros doesn't think this plan will solve all of the villages issues, though.

"If facilities such as the restaurants still have to truck in water, I don't think it solves the problem of having a large number of visitor," he said.

So, how do you get your mail stamped with the cancellation? People can ask at the Peninsula post office for the special cancellation.

“Or you can mail it to the Peninsula post office and ask them to process it, and if you provide them with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, they will mail it back to you," Andros explained.

Stamp collectors across the country have been mailing Peninsula’s post office to get the stamp, he said. But Andros hopes fun pictorial cancellations like this will influence other businesses and organizations to utilize the USPS' offerings.

"You can think about using these kind of measures to get your message out or to draw attention to something that you're working on," he said.

Special cancellations can help engage communities, Dhalai said.

"They like writing letters, and they can get the special postmark, 'Hey. I was at the solar eclipse event in Peninsula that day.' And you can see the special cancellation on there," she said. "It's just engaging to let them know where they were and what they were doing at that time."

The pictorial cancellation will be available until May 8.

Send envelopes with stamped and self addressed envelopes to be stamped to:
Postmaster, Peninsula Station
1921 Bronson Street
Peninsula, OH 44264

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.