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Edith Faulstich, As a Youth

Edith M. Vanderpoel was born on May 22, 1907. As a child, she came “from a very upper-middle class family.” The generations before her had owned some large homes and property, as well as several saw mills on the Hudson River (Map of Kinderhoock, 1686). She had it all as a child and the family lost it all. She regained her family’s prominence and her wealth through her journalism and public communication (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

 As a child she developed the nick name “Dee.” The development and transformation of the name came from her Swiss-German grandfather, Conrad Bollinger. When ever he tried to pronounce Edith and it always came out “E dit.” It sounded like he was always saying eat it. To avoid embarrassment he began calling her Dee. Throughout her life she was known as Dee.

One occurrence appears to have become a pivotal point in her life. Faulstich knew she was intelligent and despite what others thought, she was not a quitter. At Park Ridge High School in 1925, Edith had enrolled in Mr. Smerber’s tenth-grade geometry class. It was not that she needed the class to graduate, but all her friends were in the class. She was a very social person, but be it known, Edith was not a flighty person by nature and always gave her best at any given task. Part way through the geometry course, Faulstich realized she and math did not mix. Never having done so before and after considerable deliberation, she asked to withdraw from the class.

Mr. Smerber brought her up from her wooden desk to the front of the class and stood her up on top of the platform where his desk reigned. Before the entire class of 25 students, Mr. Smerber proclaimed that she was a quitter, a looser and that she would never amount to anything” (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995). Despite the embarrassing incident in front of her classmates she graduated from high school in 1927.

Later in her life, this incident would become the opening remarks of a speech she would make to a large philatelic audience in southern New Jersey.

Due to the death of her father, she was unable to go to college but took a secretarial course. “She married at the age of 20 and had two sons” (Deutch, 2). Her married name became Edith M. Fisher. By the early 1940s, she was a divorced woman alone with two sons to support” (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995), and little to no income.

She faced many personal and financial trials as a single parent. Divorce in those days caused a quite a social stigma. Also, it was a man’s world and the only professions open to women during those early years were teaching or nursing. Women were not often afforded the opportunity to attend college. Instead, they generally held what were considered menial tasks as receptionists, secretaries and stenographers.

Dee started out as a stenographer and it did not make her happy. But the job brought in money to feed her children. Women were not very involved with factory work (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

Faulstich lived behind one of the family houses in a garden bungalow, daily she traveled to the city, by rail, to work as a stenographer. She earned forty dollars a week, twenty-eight dollars per month went for traveling costs into the city. She worked from seven in the morning until six at night.

She had a difficult time working long hours for little pay, overcoming financial difficulties and raising two children by herself (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

She had a great deal of emotional resilience. Faulstich “had what they called in those days, ‘moxie'”(author’s interview, no. 1,1995). Moxie is a slang term that defines the capacity to confront obstacles and difficulties with spirit; courage and guts (American Heritage Desk Dictionary,1981, p. 631).

She had a proactive inclination to respond purposefully to existing problems or events. Purposefully, Faulstich started stamp collecting as a hobby with her sons. In the beginning, it was a way for Faulstich and her children to do something together. It was a good way to spend some precious quality time together.

Faulstich “had a ‘yen,’ a longing, to write” and she was not a shy person (authors interview no. 1, 1995). In the beginning with her philatelic work, Faulstich wanted to know how people communicated before pre-printed governmental stamps, before 1840. She then wanted to promote and increase awareness about the value and need for postal history.

Additionally, there were several intangible elements about Faulstich that were also an integral part of her work. The intangibles were her emotional passion and the personal time she invested in philately which lent to her success. She was genuinely interested in people and how postal history affected people.

The human component was very important to her.

 

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