Edith Bunting

Edith C. Bunting (1890-1960)

By Martha Bunting [written circa 1935; excerpted]

Edith Caroline Bunting, daughter of Charles Andrews and Helen (Pyle) Bunting, born Aug 28, 1890. [Died Jan 17, 1960.] Unmarried.

She graduated from Swarthmore High School and studied one year at Swarthmore College; then she took a course of study at the Drexel Institute, Phila., Pa., majoring in dietetics. Edith C. Bunting is a non-graduate of Swarthmore College, Class of 1912.

We get a glimpse of the activities of Edith Bunting at age nineteen from a Christmas letter to an aunt who was wintering in Florida. We quote from this letter, which was dated December 15, 1909: “We have had hardly any cold weather. We Swarthmoreans want a cold winter so that we can have some skating. … I have been busy with music study for the last three months.” Love of good music has been a lifelong interest of Edith. She usually has tickets for some of the concerts of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and sometimes for the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York City; she also has been a subscriber for some of the operas given in Philadelphia.

Edith C. Bumting is a member of the Swarthmore Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. She is quite faithful in attendance of the religious service on First Day (Sunday), and sometimes attends the Adult Class (now called Forum). We do not know that she has rendered any special service to the Society.

In 1912 she entered business as a dietitian and was manager of the lunchroom at the Swarthmore High School from 1912-1919. During this period she substituted one summer, for a friend who was taking vacation, at the Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital, Boston, Mass. This work was of an entirely different type from that to which she was accustomed, being the preparation of special diets for patients of the hospital.

In May, 1919, she was engaged to go to France under the American Friends’ Service Committee to assist in Post War Reconstruction Work. Before going to France, Edith Bunting had spent considerable time in the study of the French language, but when she arrived in France and the Committee learned that she was a trained dietitian with experience to her credit, they at once assigned her to that line of work. She was assigned to the Maintenance Department, and placed in charge of the meals at Aubréville from June until just before Christmas, when she was made Chef d’Equipe at Avocourt, and also in charge of the meals until the reconstruction work was completed, and the place closed. Edith rendered wonderful service at Aubréville and Avocourt, and her ability to sing and play on the piano has always been an asset when she was needed as an entertainer.

On her return to America she filled several positions, some as the head dietitian of the institution by which she was engaged, and in others as a substitute, but in 1921 she was engaged as manager of the cafeteria for the American Railway Express Office at 33rd and Arch Streets, Phila., serving lunches only. She remained in this position until 1928 when this company moved its office to Chattanooga, Tenn. The company wanted Edith to accompany them to this city, but she resigned from her position.

She was offered many important posts following her resignation from the American Railway Express, among which was one by the City Club of Philadelphia (The Men’s Club), but she soon decided to buy the equipment which the American Railway Express had not taken with them and open a cafeteria, serving lunches only, from Monday through Friday. She therefore rented a place on 33rd Street between Market and Chestnut Streets, and became the proprietor of the “Three Steps Cafeteria,” which she still manages. She has an interesting clientele, mostly made up from the men and women employed in the Pennsylvania Railroad Office Building on 34th St. above Market St. She frequently serves about two hundred and fifty people for luncheon. Her menus are attractive and varied, and served at reasonable prices. She is an excellent cook herself and is able to direct her assistants intelligently, some having been with her for many years. There are many places in the neighborhood that serve meals, but “Three Steps Cafeteria” has some personal touches that makes it popular: Edith always has either growing plants or flowers to decorate the room, which is simply but tastefully furnished, and she obtains colorful posters from transportation companies that decorate her walls. She often hears her patrons saying “I have been there,” etc. – hence with good home cooking her cafeteria is in a class of its own.

World War I Work:  In order to help prevent a food shortage while so many men were in the World War, Edith C. Bunting became a farmerette; she joined a group which had its headquarters in a large house at Bedford, New York, that had been donated for the purpose. There were about fifty or sixty girls at this central place from which they were sent out in squads to do the work as demanded; they weeded corn, stocked rye, etc.

[End of text quoted from Martha Bunting.]