How Star Soprano Lily Pons Became a U.S. Postmark

Above: Soprano Lily Pons sings one of her signature arias – “The Bell Song” from Delibes’ opera Lakmé – in the 1930 film I Dream Too Much.

In an era when opera singers weren’t generally over-hyped media stars, soprano Lily Pons was famed as no less than Metropolitan Opera sweetheart and Hollywood starlet.

And, according to a story in Maryland’s Star Democrat, the French-born diva was also quite possibly the only opera singer in history to become a U.S. postmark.

It all started when a Maryland landowner, a lover of gold fish and lily ponds, opened, in 1917, the Three Springs Fisheries. By 1925, the fisheries had expanded into a thriving mail-order business, which the postal authorities said generated enough mail to warrant a post office to handle it.

At that time, Lily Pons was skyrocketing to the height of her career. The fisheries’ owner, Leicester Thomas, Sr., was an opera buff and a die-hard Lily Pons fan. When he was given the chance to name the post office set up specially for his business, he came up with Lily Pons, Maryland. The U.S. Postal Service turned the name into a single word, and in 1936 the post office at Lilypons, Maryland, was dedicated, with Pons herself in attendance.

Legend has it that Pons always had her Christmas cards postmarked at her namesake post office. Since 1978, the Three Springs Fisheries have been called the Lilypons Water Gardens.

Read more: First a Singer, Then a Place (Star Democrat)