Friday, October 22, 2010

A Dowdy Stamp Club? Not!

     Since I have retired I have been participating in a couple stamp clubs locally -- the Milwaukee Philatelic Society and the American Topical Association Chapter 5. Many of the same people are involved in these two clubs and in many of the other local clubs that are part of the Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs. Generally the members of these clubs are past 65 like myself because no doubt such people have more time to work on their stamp collections. Both clubs work on attracting youth into the hobby because if we don't we will be the last of this hobby. One of our members has worked very hard at attracting youth, and has won an Award from the National organization due to her hard work. I have been helping her out at a monthly youth stamp meeting and occasionally at other functions where youth are encouraged. Generally the members are kind, gentle and friendly people. Many are educated but not all have college degrees. Recently through my youth worker friend, I have learned of a member who does not fit this mold.
     First my firend told me about this individual because he was begging stamp material from all members of the club to be used at his youth table at local stamp shows. He claimed to be going to many local schools, and to Boy Scout and Girl Scout troups, and 18 children's hospitals in Southeastern Wisconsin. I am a retired MD and I know there are not 18 children's hospitals around here. There are two if you count Milwaukee and Madison. There are a few local hospitals that do admit children to a small children's ward but these children are usually in the hospitall for only short times, many times just a night or two and would not be candidates for a stamp collector visitor. So we began to suspect he was exagerating a little bit. He began saying that he had a terminal disease, perhaps cancer and was dying. That was about 2 years ago. Then he began telling his life story and maintained that he had been a fireman, then an EMT and then went to medical school, was an MD and had worked at a hospital ER as the ER physician in central Wisconsin, until he was in a car accident and had a head injury that affected his memory. He claimed that he had to go back to school for 2 years to try to get recertified, but says the Federal Government would not let him go back to practice, so he decided to start his work with stamps and youth. As an MD, I know that states license doctors and the Federal Government has nothing to do with it. Also there is no 2 year refresher course for a doctor.
     In current technological times, we can check on such claims very easily. All MD's licensed in Wisconsin back to the 1920s can be found on line. This gentleman was not listed. Once I approached him and asked him if he was an MD. He nodded, said Yes. I asked him where he did his residency and he didn't seem to understand what I was asking. He said, "Well, let me start at the beginning. First I was a fireman, then I was an EMT and then I became a physician." I then asked him where he went to medical school. He said in Chicago, the one that is on the west side, but he said he couldn't recall its name. He aid he has trouble with his memory since his car accident. He has totally taken in the secretary of the stamp club who writess the newsletter. There was one long article about him and his MD and his devotion to youth stamps and there are many short little blurbs written by the secretry commending his dedication or asking for donations of stamps for his program.
     He has taken in other members of the clubs also and got elected to the Board of Directors of one of the clubs. Now he was in a position of authority and we needed to figure out what to do. We were still debating about the best course to take when this year's Milcopex stamp show came around. I volunteered to organize and man the hosptality table at the show. I saw this imposter working around the show, helping set up and helping the dealers under the supervision of the secretary of the stamp club. He looked like he was being conscientious and I hoped that his need to tell these tall tales had passed. But after the show ended my friend sent me an email which arrived coincidently with the newsletter for the next stamp club meeting. The secretary was again writing about this stamp club imposter saying that he had an exciting announcement to make and she would let him have his fun and glory and make the announcement at the next meeting. My friend filled me in in her email. This man was now claiming that he had won an award for his youth activities from the "National Postal Museum" in Washington DC, a fully paid for trip to Germany for 81 people. He was unable to go on the date it was originally offered, he said, because he had to work at Milcopex. My friend was able to check this out, and a lady from Canada had actually won this award, but it was not a trip to Germany or anywhere else. In addition, several people had overheard this man telling dealers at the Milcopex to only donate children's material to him, because if they gave it to certain others, it would be sold for money and not given to the children. Here he was obviously aiming at my friend's reputation. He has always known that she was on to him. Now he is getting into a libelous area. A decision of what to do had to be made. Finally through various Internet conferencing it was decided that a member of the Wisconsin Stamp Federation who is also a member of our stamp club would speak to him privatedly, tell him we had evidence of the falsehood of his stories, ask him to resign from the Board, and ask him to desist from this behavior. He would be allowed to stay in the stamp club as long as he did these things. Well, he sat through the Board meeting, then picked up his belongings and didn't stay for the stamp club meeting during which he was supposed to make this announcement. It was all rather anticlimactic. I was hoping for a public confrontation, but that didn't happen and that was probably for the best. Time will now tell whether this man who has some sort of psychiatric need to tell tall tale about himself to the detriment of others -- whether he will be able to change his behavior and be a productive member of the club. Who would have thought that a benign hobbyist group like a stamp club would shelter such a person in its midst.

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