Sunday, May 9, 2021

Theodore Frederick Poulson

Theodore Frederick Poulson (b. Bronx, New York, 2 January 1911; d. Newington, Connecticut, 16 July 1987) 

Theodore Frederick Poulson was the second child of three of Frederick John Poulson (1879-1964), a dentist's office worker (according to the 1910 US Census) and later a shipping clerk at a tobacco company (according to the 1920 US census), and his first wife, Rosabel Barbara Demmerie (1885-1918), who were married around 1906. Little is known of Theodore. His step-mother (his father's second wife), Marie Ursula Dunton (1892-1967) was a teacher. Theodore enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1935, and was discharged in December 1952.  He never married, and later worked at the Beth David Hospital in Manhattan.  He moved to Sharon, Connecticut, around 1981, and died in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Newington. He is buried in the family plot in Culpeper Nation Cemetery, in Culpeper, Virginia, where his brother had settled. 

Poulson is the author of a single small book, a curiosity entitled The Flying Wig . . . A Horrifying Tale: Being the first time in the history of the Great Art of Story Wiring that the reader will meet the Ghost of an Hallucination (Honolulu: Abel Skiff, [April] 1948). Published in an edition of 500 copies, it is basically a short story in two parts.  The first tells the history of two twin sisters, Margaret and Amelia Simmy, who were entirely hairless, and who must therefore wear wigs. The twins grow into lonely spinsters, who come to blows when Margaret plans a dinner with a new lodger at their boarding-house, hiding Amelia's wig to keep her away. This enrages Amelia, who beats her sister. Amelia puts on her sister's wig and attends the dinner herself. Margaret dies, and immediately begins to haunt Amelia by making the stolen wig become tighter and tighter on Amelia's head. In the second part of the story, exactly one year later, Amelia is killed, and her heir, a crippled cousin, begins to witness nightly the reenactment of Amelia's death, which includes the flying wig of the title.  

The prose is amateurish, but the silliness keeps one reading this small endeavor. Poulson apparently wrote nothing else. The dedicatee of The Flying Wig was Gizella Polachek (1874-1959), a teacher in New York, like Theodore's step-mother. Polachek is known to have written some three act dramas, The Snow Nymph (1927), Out of the Fog (1934), and The Way of One Woman (1937). It seems likely that she was one of Theodore's teachers. 

The Flying Wig is the only title published by "Abel Skiff" which may be a mask for vanity-publication, though the book was in fact printed by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. It may have come about in Honolulu  because Poulson was stationed there for a time during his long military service.

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