Johnny Cash used to sing a song in which he claimed to have “been everywhere” from “Minnesota” to…“Crat-er Lake, for pete’s sake.”
As a former truck driver, Bob Mahoney has put on plenty of miles himself, and over the years he has gotten to know the atlas pretty well.
More recently, Mahoney of rural Redwood Falls, has gotten familiar with his atlas once again as he works on a special project for veterans.
“It started with the ladies of the VFW Auxiliary here in Redwood,” Mahoney ex-plained, adding for a number of years those ladies would cut out stamps from en-velopes that were then sent to veterans across Minne-sota who were staying at the VA hospitals or were residing in VA homes.
Thousands of stamps are cut out annually, and when the local auxiliary opted to dissolve there was still a need to accomplish the stamp project.
So, Bob Mahoney, who had often helped his mom, Betty, with the project, got more involved.
Over the years, the project was expanded when envelopes from the county auditor-treasurer’s office were given to the group.
“Rita’s (Wieneke from the auditor/treasurer’s office) mom used to do this,” said Mahoney, adding the stamps were removed and the envelopes thrown away.
When Mahoney got more involved he began noticing something he did not expect.
A lot of the addresses on the envelopes did not originate in Redwood County.
“I started keeping track of where the envelopes were coming from,” said Mahon-ey, who has actively been involved with the stamp project for the past three or four years.
As the list of locations began to grow, Mahoney pulled out his atlas and began marking the different spots, not only across Minnesota but around the United States.
“I have found ad-dresses in 42 states which are paying taxes to Redwood County,” he said.
The project also went international when he discovered addresses from Canada and England.
Mahoney surmised many of these ad-dresses were from absent landowners and businesses who have their headquarters elsewhere but still conduct business in the county.
“Kids with their inheritances who don’t live here still are paying taxes on the property they own here,” added Mahoney.
He also said there are plenty of snowbirds in places, such as Arizona, Texas and Florida who are likely sending their tax payments while away.
Mahoney said he doesn’t pay any attention to the names nor the full addresses – only the cities.
He also said after the envelopes have the stamps removed they are recycled.
Page 2 of 2 - “When I took the atlas with all of the dots to the (auditor-treasurer’s) office, even they were surprised,” he said.
Mahoney said he often finds himself sitting down as he watches TV or just relaxing cutting out more stamps and placing them in the bundles of 100 to be sent out for the veterans.
While there are many slower times of the year, Mahoney said the biggest times are in the spring and the fall when the taxes come due to the county.
Mahoney said even after all of the time he has spent dong the project he still comes across a new place every once in a while. At times, he admitted, he has learned about places he’d never heard of before, too.
“It’s not as common as when I started,” he said.
The red dots his pens make on the maps are taking up a lot of space, and Mahoney said in his spare time he may transfer the information onto a bigger map or set of maps to get a better picture of the whole spectrum of locations.
Mahoney said he enjoys doing the project because it is interesting, but more importantly he knows he is helping veterans. Veterans groups, such as the VFW, also are recognized for their efforts each year as they take part in projects like this.
For some veterans this is an opportunity to collect stamps, while for others the activity is therapeutic.
For Mahoney it is a way to keep learning and to serve.