There Is No Lydia Mendoza Without Her Guitar

To celebrate the release of the new Lydia Mendoza Forever® stamp (the first in the new Music Icons series!), we talked to a few people who had the honor of meeting Ms. Mendoza and speaking with her about music. Today we eavesdrop on a chat between the Queen of Tejano and Deborah Vargas, who interviewed her for the Smithsonian and served as our expert consultant for the project.

This collectible souvenir sheet of 16 Lydia Mendoza (Forever®) stamps has been cancelled by four official first-day black postmarks. Click the image for more details.

Vargas: I will never forget the experience of conducting an oral history with Mendoza, as part of the Smithsonian’s Latino Music Oral History Project. Even at her older age and being the humble person she always was, Mendoza still conveyed a magical presence whose spirit filled the room.

What struck me the most were little things that represented the masterful professional performer she was her entire life. For example, she knew exactly where to place herself in proximity to the microphone for best sound quality. She sat with perfect posture during the entire interview (just as she had for decades when she sang and played guitar). She was extremely thoughtful when she spoke about the music, because she was so connected to how music conveyed histories, and joy in Mexican working people’s everyday lives.  

Q: Do you have a favorite quote from the interview?

A: My favorite quote from the interview was when I asked her how she would deal with it, if someday, she was not able to play her guitar. Her response: “There is no Lydia Mendoza without her guitar.” This was a profound response because it conveyed how intertwined Mendoza was with her instrument and how her instrument was never a side, mechanical sound apparatus for her, but rather who she was in her essence.  

Q: What makes Lydia Mendoza a great stamp subject?

A: There are tons of Mexican Americans and Latinos who will never be cultural performers or famous for what they do, but they take pride in their work and social contributions, just as Mendoza did. Mendoza certainly saw herself as a musician, but she never dissociated it from work and therefore she had tremendous respect for those who worked hard at the hardest jobs.

Mendoza didn’t make music to become famous or make money, she made music to create beauty and joy in the worlds of the most downtrodden. Her public felt this every time Mendoza sang and when they would hear her over the radio waves. This makes Mendoza’s stamp meaningful for American music history, as well as Mexican American history, because Mendoza’s image is such a profound symbol that so many can see themselves in.

What a beautiful sentiment. How has the music of Lydia Mendoza impacted you?

The Lydia Mendoza Forever® stamp was released May 15, 2013, and is currently available at and at Post Offices around the country. You can also purchase the stamps by calling (). Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.

Think Pink! Vintage Seed Packets Giveaway

It’s time to give away another vintage seed packet! Today’s prize is the pinks packet.

DSC03811The front of the seed packet depicts two shades of pinks, one pale, one dark. The back of the packet describes the flower in more detail:

A great variety of rich, brilliant colors, shades and markings; plants in bloom constantly from early summer till after severe frosts.

To win the pinks seed packet, all you have to do is answer one question: Pink is a common name for which genus?

Send your answer, along with your name and mailing address, to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. One winner will be selected at random from those who answer correctly. The deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. EDT Saturday, June 1. Good luck! (Note: No seeds are included with this vintage packet.)

This contest is now over. The correct answer is Dianthus. Congratulations to our randomly selected winner Marta van Dam of Lexington, Massachusetts. Thank you to everyone who entered.

The Vintage Seed Packets stamps are Forever® stamps. (Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.) Find them in your neighborhood Post Office, call (), or

Let’s Celebrate “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” With A Contest

SingleThis year marks the 105th anniversary of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The iconic tune debuted in 1908 and since then has become a staple at American ballparks. (To celebrate the song’s 100th anniversary in 2008, USPS issued the 42-cent .) Have you been singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” since you were a child? Well, it’s time to test your knowledge of the song.

If you can correctly answer all three of the following questions, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one copy of Play Ball! A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest Moments. This wonderful 8½” x 11”, 40-page softbound book features the vivid paintings of artist Graig Kreindler, as well as 16 collectible stamps: the 2001 Legendary Playing Fields (10), the , and the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Stars (4) stamps.

Play Ball book
Let’s get started!

1. Singer/songwriter Jack Norworth was inspired to write the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” after seeing a sign for an upcoming game at which now-closed ballpark?

2. Which famous radio announcer helped start the Wrigley Field tradition of singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch of every game? 

3. In the 1949 film Take Me Out to the Ball Game which two stars, who were known for their acting and singing prowess, belted out a verse of the titular song?

For this contest we’re trying something a little different. To enter, send your answers, along with your name and address, to: USPS Stamps, 1300 Mercantile Ln, Ste 139C, Largo MD 20774.

Of those who answer correctly, two people will be randomly chosen to receive a copy of Play Ball! If you don’t know all the answers this time around, don’t worry. You’ll have several more chances to win over the course of the season. Entries must be postmarked by Saturday, June 8. Good luck!

This contest is now over. The correct answers are: Polo Grounds, Harry Caray, and Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Congratulations to our randomly selected winners, William J. Graham of Staten Island, New York, and Helen Lento of Fairfax, Virginia. Thank you to everyone who entered.

Think You Don’t Know Lydia Mendoza’s Music? Think Again.

You may think you’ve never heard the music of Lydia Mendoza, whose stamp, the first in the new Music Icons series, was released on Wednesday, May 15. But if you’re a movie fan, think again!

Mendoza sings her best known song, “Mal Hombre,” on the deluxe soundtrack for the 2010 film Crazy Heart. The film starring Jeff Bridges won two Oscars, but not surprisingly, the soundtrack of this movie about musicians also turned out to be a hit, and won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack. Lydia Mendoza keeps some excellent company on the CD, which also features Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Greg Brown, and Kitty Wells. Legendary 10-time Grammy winner T-Bone Burnett produced the disc. And if T-Bone is a Mendoza fan, that’s an excellent reason to add her to your playlist!

Mendoza’s music also appears in another popular film, the 1996 John Sayles hit Lone Star. On the soundtrack of the film, appropriately set in her home state of Texas, Mendoza performs “Jurame,” a love song by Mexican composer Maria Grever. According to the soundtrack review on, “this collection of country, blues, norteño, R&B, and folk songs . . . [with] strong performances from Lucinda Williams [and] legendary Mexican songstress Lydia Mendoza . . . give Lone Star heft far beyond most cinematic song compilations.” We couldn’t agree more.

Celebrate one of the first and greatest stars of Tejano music with this First Day Cover bearing an affixed Lydia Mendoza (Forever®) stamp and an official First Day of Issue postmark. Click the image for details.

If you’ve never seen these two films, the soundtracks are a fun way to meet a true music icon. Also be sure to check out our brand spanking new Lydia Mendoza playlist, created just for you on Rdio. Let us know what you think. What songs would you add?

The Lydia Mendoza Forever® stamp is currently available at and at Post Offices around the country. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.