Teacher turned trekkie led successful Star Trek stamp campaign
The retired English teacher spearheaded a 13-year campaign to have Star Trek commemorated on a postage stamp and now is on a tour to promote his memoir.
“When Star Trek first came on television during its original run, I was not very involved in science fiction, so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it,” Kraft admitted.
“But when the movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979, it was hopeful and optimistic.”
The Sauk Rapids resident’s other passions include Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and St. John’s University football.
“I taught Irving in high school,” Kraft said after having visited the real Sleepy Hollow years ago. “And I literally walked through the story — the bridge, the church, the cemetery.”
Besides a Star Trek movie poster, images of Thomas Wolfe also grace Kraft’s home; his favorite writer penned The Web and the Rock and You Can’t Go Home Again.
“I dreamt for 50 years about being in Thomas Wolfe’s hometown in Asheville, N.C. — visiting the house he was born — and we finally made it two years ago,” Kraft said.
But perhaps there exists a greater similarity between the 73-year-old Kraft and the titular character of the 1962 motion picture Lawrence of the Arabia.
“He was a guy who had this messianic kind of fervor and passion and charisma, and he put it all on the line,” Kraft said of Lawrence. “The real Lawrence just said, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to defy conventional wisdom.’”
Kraft’s recent book about the collaborative and monumental effort it took to have Star Trek put on a stamp is part of the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington.
“I knew going in it was going to be a marathon — I was never naïve — and when we got to about the third or fourth year, we were at the point of no return,” he said of the campaign.
“When I go back now and look at Star Trek, I fall in love with it again because it’s always about the people … and that’s why it’s stood the test of time,” he said of the long-running franchise that includes several TV spin-offs, feature films, sequels and remakes.
“When you passionately believe in something and really want it badly, you do not let the naysayers discourage you and demoralize you,” Kraft said of his postage stamp campaign.
“When you believe in something, you go for it, and you do whatever it takes. You take risks, you take chances, and you don’t get intimidated by the odds.”