A small museum dedicated to maritime rescue opened near my parents’ house.

My father donated several hats he wore in the Navy during World War II.

Recently we happened to pass by and I suggested we visit. I asked Dad to show me his hats.

He grabbed one and turned it upside down to show the name MERZ, N.C. printed inside.

It turns out that Dad had labeled the hat with a rubber stamp he bought from the ship’s store.

He said the Navy stenciled the initial clothes they supplied. But any additional uniforms – in this case a hat – were up to the men themselves.

I asked Dad what happened to the stencil.

He said he still had it and later showed me the rubber stamp on his desk.

I couldn’t believe he had kept it all those years.

I asked him when he last used the stencil.

He said: “1945.”

“How is that even possible,” I asked?

Who keeps a rubber stamp they haven’t used for 75 years?

I guess I know the answer to that question.

(Part of a series life lessons based on conversations with my parents.)