The American First Day Cover Society has given one of its highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award, to Gerald Strauss, the first editor of its journal, First Days. The award is given for performance far above basic duties, to living current members.
The key to any national stamp collecting organization is a successful journal, and especially so for a new society. Strauss, then a college English professor, produced the first issue of First Days, September-December 1955. It was a four-page mimeographed newsletter, but within a year, had grown to a 16-page professionally-printed magazine.
Unfortunately, his workload at the college became too much, and he resigned. He later dropped out of the AFDCS, but continued his philatelic writing and editing elsewhere, particularly for the Washington Press and its catalogues, newsletters and album pages. Although not a member of the AFDCS, he also served as a proofreader for First Days for most of the past decade. He rejoined in the past year.
While editor of First Days, Strauss recruited two young writers whose names are very familiar today: One was college student Alan Warren, whose "Question Box" column has appeared in all but one of the hundreds of issues since that first one in 1955. Warren also writes for many other publications and on other philatelic subjects.
The other was junior member Randy Neil from the Kansas City area, who went on to become a successful writer, editor and publisher, as well as American Philatelic Society president.
The DSA is voted upon only by past recipients of the award; the committee is currently chaired by Allison Cusick.
The American First Day Cover Society is a not-for-profit educational organization. In addition to First Days, the AFDCS also publishes handbooks and catalogues, and promotes the collecting of both modern and "classic" issues and cachets, as well as exhibiting FDCs.
For more information about the AFDCS, visit www.afdcs.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write the AFDCS at Post Office Box 246, Colonial Beach, VA 22443-0246.