I am putting together my own American flag but it isn’t made of cloth or vinyl. It has red, white, and blue in it but lots of other colors too. What I am doing is trying to collect a license plate from every state.

This started because when we used to travel by car long distances with the kids, they would get bored, and to stave off the “Are we there yet?” mantra we would play various games. One of them was the license plate game.

We would watch other cars in traffic and at rest stops and try to see one from every state. The farther we would go, the more plates we could find, but we would never get them all. We would even see Alaska occasionally but Hawaii was virtually never seen.

Isani’s son Suta was living and working in Hawaii for a while. When he moved back to the mainland he had his car shipped back also. We asked him if we could have his old license plate and he agreed. We tacked it up in the rafters and then when we would start on a trip we could write down Hawaii right away.

After that we started collecting license plates until it grew into a bit of an obsession for me. One by one I got various states and tacked them up into the open rafters of the garage. This had another effect, that they reflected light and made the garage brighter.

The one rule was we couldn’t buy them or steal them. Anytime I met someone from a state I didn’t have or near that state, or visiting that state, I would ask them to try get me that state’s license plate. This has been going on for 10-15 years — clearly not a priority but an icebreaker if nothing else.

Two summer’s ago in the hayfield next to my house, a neighbor was putting up the hay. A friend/relative of his was visiting and helping out. I noticed he had Delaware plates on his vehicle. I showed him my collection and asked if he ever ran across an extra  Delaware plate to remember me.

Yesterday there was a knock on the door and a guy I didn’t recognize at first was standing there and handed me the Delaware plate. He had remembered and brought me one a year and a half later.

So that is the story for my Delaware plate. I have a story for every license plate I have, some of them pretty interesting, some not so interesting.

Anyway, I only need four more to finish up my collection — Idaho, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.

If anybody can tighten me up with any of these, I would be very grateful. I may not achieve Krishna prema in this lifetime, but I am at least hoping to get all 51 license plates before I pass from this mortal plane.

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