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A Friend's Fond Remembrance of 'Mr. FDC'

by Marjory J. Sente

Curtis B. Patterson - 'Mr. FDC' - died on July 1.

Curt was a charter member of the American First Day Cover Society and a past president. He also served the Society in other roles, including cachet chairman, convention chairman, bylaws chairman, member of the editorial board of First Days, the society's journal, regional vice president and executive vice president.

Curt got to know many members of the society through his job. Working for DuPont, he traveled extensively throughout the United States and in parts of Europe. When on the road, he always carried an AFDCS membership directory, and would call members after work and visit with them. Curt noted that it was a great way to meet first day cover collectors, and he recruited many for society committees as well as other positions.

Curt also established the society's archives, which he housed in his own home from 1969 until 1978. They then were transferred to the American Philatelic Research Library in State College, Pa., where they reside today. (From 1978 until 1988, Curt served as the AFDCS liaison officer to the APRL.)

It was during this latter period that I got to know Curt quite well. Frequently coming to State College to work on the archives, he would join my family for dinner. Curt usually showed up with a box of freshly picked mushrooms, and quickly was dubbed 'the Mushroom Man' by our young son!

As part of his endeavors on behalf of the AFDCS, Curt recorded more than 30 interviews with important cachetmakers, prepared slide programs for the society, and wrote more than 60 feature articles for First Days - only part of his more than 150 written contributions to that journal.

His many years of service with the society were recognized with the Philip H. Ward, Jr. Award for excellence in first-day cover literature, the Distinguished Service Award and an honorary Life Membership.

On one of his trips in 1983 to the APRL, I had the opportunity to record an interview with Curt about his recollections of the founding and early days of the AFDCS. He joined the society in 1956, served as its seventh president from 1966-1970 and than again took the reins of leadership from 1973 until 1978.

During the interview, we talked about some of the pioneer cachetmakers and FDC servicers that he had interviewed. Curt said the first interview was in 1969 with Milnor Peck, who owned Fleetwood.

He interviewed Win Grandy on three occasions and noted, 'I was thrilled to be able to get Dorothy Knapp, for example, to allow me to go into her home and tape an interview.'

I asked Curt if he had any idea that he was pioneering an oral history project. 'Not really, he replied.

'Originally we taped the interview so we could use it as a basis for the article about the cachetmaker. I did not have any idea until someone said, 'It's nice to have these voices on tape because these people are going to be passing on.'

'We did try to get an interview with George W. Linn [but] he turned us down flat . . . We lost some of the pioneers that we could have taped.'

Curt said he missed interviewing Phil Ward and Ed Worden, Sr., but he had a chance to tape Ed Worden, Jr., and his brother. According to Curt, 'They had good recollections. Surprisingly enough, because of the limited help available for servicing his FDCs, he (Ed Worden, Sr.) put the family to work. Both boys were deprived of after school playtime because they had to be sticking stamps on or doing things with covers. By the time they both got away from the house, they were thoroughly disgusted with covers and FDC collecting. Neither one ever had anything to do with stamps or covers after that.'

The interviews Curt conducted, and others, are available by loan from the APRL.

Curt collected FDCs of the 1920s and '30s, and had a specialized collection of 1938 Swedish-Finnish Tercentenary FDCs, one of which is shown in Figure 1. He and Harry Themal developed a catalog of all known cachets of the issue.

Curt and the late Marge Finger also produced an AFDCS slide program about the cachets of the 1938 Swedish-Finnish Tercentenary issue. Called '318 Cancellation and Cachet Varieties on One Issue - The Delaware Tercentenary,' it and the more than 30 other slide programs on first-day cover collecting can be borrowed from the AFDCS.

In 1977, Curt was accredited by the APS as a judge of FDCs. He was pleased that the exhibiting of FDCs has continued to evolve over the decades.

In addition to all the time that Curt spent on FDCs, he was active with the Boy Scouts from his youth, and was awarded the Silver Beaver by the Del-Mar-Va Council for his services to the Scouts.

He also was a founding member of the Delaware Highland Games and a 20-year volunteer at the Hagley Museum.

Curt is survived by Verna, his wife of 67 years, and by sons Gary and Wayne, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He will long be missed.