Friday, 30 September 2011

It's more likely that I was doing 911km/h



When Auckland resident Justin Lee received the above speeding ticket back in 2004, he noticed a typo: according to said notice, the infringement in question had taken place 30 years beforehand, in 1974, on the day he was born. His entertaining response can be read below, followed by the subsequent reply from the New Zealand Police.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Mike Riversdale.)




Transcript
Justin Lee
[Redacted]
Auckland

27th January 2004

New Zealand Police
Infringement Bureau
PO Box 9147
Wellington

Good morning,

INFRINGMENT NOTICE NS3735700

Yesterday, I was presented with the above infringement notice (copy attached for your records) while returning home from the Parachute music festival at Mystery Creek near Hamilton over the long Auckland Anniversary weekend. I had a most excellent weekend, but that is not why I'm writing to you at this time. Unfortunately, there are a couple of irregularities with the infringment notice that are causing me some consternation and hopefully you can clear them up or, preferably, forget about the whole thing entirely.

Firstly, the 'date of offence' is listed as the 23rd of June 1974 with the time being at or around half past six in the evening. This is of grave concern to me because I was not issued a drivers license until sometime in 1990 and I have no desire to be charged with driving while not legally licensed. I do not have a clear recollection of very much at all before I was three and a half years old, so I rang Mum to see if she remembered what I was doing that day. She said that - coincidentally - I was born that day!!

Mum mentioned that I was born at around five o'clock in the evening on that day in Porirua, which is not far from Wellington. She also said Porirua was a bustling suburb of young, low-income people who were trying to get ahead. Back in the 70's, people were coming to terms with oil shocks, high-inflation and wage freezes, but that's not important right now.

For me to have traveled from Porirua to the foot of the Bombay Hills just out of Auckland by six thirty, I would had to have crawled into the first car in the hospital parking lot and headed for Auckland at around 1,000 km/h. For this reason, it is entirely possible that the constable who clocked me back in 1974 was holding his laser equipment upside down and instead of doing 116 km/h as per the infringment notice, it is more likely that I was doing 911 km/h.

This is where it starts to get really strange. The car that I must have crawled into had the same license plate number as the one I have now - AEH924 (according to the infringment notice). However, my car is a dark gray Nissan Bluebird SSS, with dual cup holders, 1800cc's of grunt, air-conditioning and electric windows.

You will notice that a time-travel option is not included on this model, so that rules out any 'Back to the Future' issues and the car I was driving back then could not have been the the one I drive today.

This is clarifed by the infringement notice which states that the vehicle was a Honda saloon. How this relates to my Nissan Bluebird, I cannot fathom. I can only hypothesise that, back in 1974, the first range of proto-type Hondas had an automated number plate changing mechanism (like on the A-Team) which were used to avoid parking tickets and facilitate safer getaways from burglaries, armed hold-ups and the like.

So to recap, it appears that on my birthday on June 23rd 1974, I crawled out of the maternity ward, hijacked a seriously high powered Honda saloon with an automated number plate changing mechanism, drove to Auckland at close to Mach 1, was pulled over approaching the Bombay Hills and unwittingly changed the automated number plate changing mechanism to show the same number as a car I would own almost thirty years later!! (The chance of selecting the same number plate is a mere 1 in 308,915,776 - so quite conceivable)

I am currently residing at the address listed at the top of this letter. I expect you will want to apprehend me fairly shortly now that we've established that I may have committed the following offences:

- Grand theft auto (I probably stole the Honda as my parents drove a white Ford Cortina at that stage)
- Driving without a license
- Driving at a ludicrous speed using a motor vehicle
- Evading the law using an automated number plate changing mechanism.

If you could provide a clearer indication as to why the 'date of offence' is the same as my birthday, and why the vehicle make and type bears no resemblance to the number plate listed on the infringement notice, it would be appreciated. Mind you, I wouldn't be too disappointed if we agreed to let this one go. I could really use the $120 dollars as I'm lowering my Nissan, installing excessively noisy waste-gate and boring it out for better performance in the street drags down Te Irirangi drive and around Weymouth.

Thank you for considering my submission, I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

(Signed)

Justin Lee

Encl. Copy of infringement notice N3735700



Transcript
30 March 2004

Justin Lee
[Redacted]
AUCKLAND

Dear Sir

Infringement Notice: PN 3735700

I refer to your correspondence regarding the above infringement notice.

After careful consideration of your comments and the circumstances surrounding the issue of this notice, it has been decided on this occasion to waive the offence. Accordingly, you are no longer required to pay the infringement fee.

Yours faithfully

(Signed)

for Senior Sergeant Bryan Healey
Manager: Adjudication
ae/rg

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Each of you is special just because you're you



In January of 1990, a 6-year-old boy named Christopher wrote to Fred Rogers — host of the widely-adored children's programme, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood — and asked if he could visit the show's studio. The lovely rejection he soon received can be seen below, as can both a letter of thanks subsequently sent to the studio by Christopher's impressed father and, as if to confirm the kindness of Rogers, yet another heartwarming response from the host.

Transcripts follow each image.

(Source: Christopher himself, aka FlyingCowOfDoom at reddit.com; Image above: Fred Rogers, via.)



Transcript
January, 1990

Dear Christopher,

You are growing and learning so many new things every day. Now you are 6 years old, and you're learning how to type. You did a fine job on your letter! I know it can take a lot of practice to be able to type well. I'm proud of that way you're growing, and I hope you are, too.

It meant a lot to me to know that you would like to visit with me at my house. Christopher, I wish it were possible to meet with the boys and girls who want to visit, but I am busy with my work, and I need to spend my relaxing time with my family. There is also no area for guests in the studio where my television house is. Even though we can't have a real visit, it is good that we can have television visits and a letter visit like this one. You might want to pretend about a visit we'd have together. When you pretend, things can be any way you want them to be.

Since you mentioned that you'd like to play with our Trolley, I thought you might be interested to know that we have heard from many children who have made their own trolleys out of play materials at home--cartons or boxes and construction paper. Children can have such good ideas!

Christopher, I'm glad to have a television friend like you. Here are pictures for you and your sister with best wishes from all of us here in the Neighborhood. Each of you is special just because you're you.

You television friend,

(Signed, 'Mister Rogers')



Transcript
February 8, 1990

Dear Mr. Rogers,

My six year old son, Christopher, recently wrote you to invite himself to your house and to your television studio! You are so kind to have written him back such a special letter. I was away on business when he received it, but my wife told me he "was beaming" all afternoon the day he received it.

Your message to children that they are good, and capable, and "special" unconditionally is very important to them. Thank you for sending that message to all your "television friends" during your broadcasts and, in particular, to Christopher with your thoughtful letter.

Sincerely yours,

[Redacted]



Transcript
February, 1990

Dear Mr. [redacted],

What a pleasure it was to hear from you. It meant a great deal to us that you wanted to take the time to write and let us know about Christopher's warm reaction to our letter. Feedback like that helps us in many ways.

Thank you, too, for your thoughtful comments about our program. We're particularly glad to hear from fathers.

You've further confirmed something we've long believed. We are very much aware that the children who seem to like our Neighborhood best are the ones who have already experienced the deep investment of their own families in their development, and thus are able to understand what we offer. I heard that in your letter, too, and I couldn't help but think how fortunate Christopher is to have such a caring father.

Please give our regards to your son. We will remember with great pleasure that your family is watching.

Sincerely,

(Signed, 'Fred Rogers')

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Please ask Ike to bring Elvis back

The following pleading letter is just one of thousands sent by desperate fans of Elvis Presley to the White House in the late-1950s, in an effort to have the King of Rock 'n' Roll returned to the United States from Germany, where he was posted with the U.S. Army. This particular missive was sent by a couple from Sacramento and was addressed to President Eisenhower's wife, Mamie. Another example of such a request, written by some of Elvis' younger fans, can be found here.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the National Archives.



Transcript
Sacramento, Calif.
4-10-58

Dear Mamie -

Will you please please be so sweet and kind as to ask Ike to please bring Elvis Presley back to us from the Army. We need him in our entertainment world to make us all laugh. The theatres need him to help fill their many empty seats these days of T.V. (?) Elvis is the leading box office attraction. Also did you know Elvis has been paying $500,000 in income taxes. We feel the huge taxes he has been paying could help our defense effort far more than his stay in the Army. Please ask Ike to bring Elvis back to us soon. We wish Ike would pass a law real soon to exempt all entertainers who pay large sums of income taxes.

Thanking you for being the sweet gracious lady you are and asking God to bless you and Ike in every way every day we are gratefully yours

Mr - Mrs. Lawrence Erickson

5741-62nd St

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Marlon I respect you enormously

Late-April of 1973, just a month after Marlon Brando famously turned down an Academy Award for his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola wrote him the following letter and asked him one final time to star as a young Vito in the next installment. Brando's financial demands, coupled with the Oscar refusal, had recently soured his already fractious relationship with Paramount executives Charles Bluhdorn, Robert Evans, and Frank Yablans, and Coppola had clearly been working hard to repair the situation on his behalf.

Brando agreed to Coppola's proposal; however he later failed to turn up for filming after relations deteriorated once again. It was then that De Niro stepped in to deliver his own award-winning portrayal of The Don.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of RRAuction, who are currently selling this very letter.


Image: RRAuction

Transcript
Monday

Dear Marlon,

I heard you were back from the South Pacific; but I didn't want to call you because I always feel stupid bringing up the matter of the Godfather. I know you return my calls on a personal and friendly basis, and so I can't bring myself to misuse that and bring up what is bothering me.

My problem is simply that I am stalling and stalling because I have the inkling that it may be possible that you will play the young Vito Corleone. I've seen in the past, that even a slight possibility may blossom into a fact, and so I've tried to kindle this as best I could. I've become a real behind-the-scenes monster playing Yablans and Evans and Bludhorn; trying to get them to do what I want. I tell Yablans that he's the only one who can do it. Then I tell Evans the same thing.

I tell them the movie cannot be made without you; I tell Yablans he has to apologize to you. Now Yablans says that he's trying to do this, and get together on the money and stuff, but you don't return his call.

Evans wants to approach you; but Yablans is terrified that Evans might make it work, where he failed...so he keeps preventing that.

But what it really comes down to is me. Marlon I respect you enormously; and if you told me that you did not want to do it under any circumstances, whatsoever...of course I would accept that, and never mention it again. And if you liked, I wouldn't tell anyone else.

I learned a lot from you...one thing being that it’s only a movie, and what’s that compared to everything else there is in the world.

At times, I try really hard to imagine what you're like in your thoughts. I realized that you've been in the strange state of adoration and exhibition for 25 years now, intensely...and I think that would have driven me crazy. And the fact that you're really a good man, and warm, and love people is a tremendous achievement considering that you've been in a glass box for half your life.

I always to tell you that,..although it has nothing to do with this letter.

All I'm saying is that if you will be in this movie; I will do my very best to make it be good; and human, and express the notion that the Mafia is only a metaphor for America and capitalism, which will do anything to protect and perpetuate itself. (I will do this anyway, if you're not in the film...but if you were in it, it would be better, and you would help me with your ideas as I work on the script.)

If you will not be in it, I will love you no less. All I ask is to please tell me without the shadow of a doubt.

I am very happy; having a terrific time up here. After this film I am quitting the movie business, and will do other things that I am excited about (that may involve film).

Sincerely,

FRANCIS

My number is [redacted]

Monday, 26 September 2011

My Pilot days are closing in

Late-2000, in an effort to find a sponsor for his act, stand-up comedian Mitch Hedberg wrote to the makers of his new favourite pen, The Uni-Ball Gel Impact, and suggested such a partnership. His amusing letter — or, more specifically, a draft of it as written on tour with his wife, Lynn — can be seen below.

Other examples of the late comedian's previously unseen writings can be found at the recently revamped and highly recommended Mitch Hedberg website.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of MitchHedberg.net.



Transcript
UNIBALL:

HI....

I AM WRITING TO THE MAKERS OF THE UNIBALL 'GEL IMPACT' PEN. UNFORTUNATELY I AM DOING SO WITH A PILOT P-500. AS OF THIS MOMENT, I HAVE YET TO LOCATE YOUR MAGNIFICENT PEN IN A STORE. AS SOON AS I FIND ONE I WILL PURCHASE ONE.

THIS IS THE DEAL....

I AM A STAND-UP COMEDIAN, MY NAME IS MITCH HEDBERG. I HAVE BEEN ON 'THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN' SIX TIMES. I HAVE A ½ HOUR COMEDY CENTRAL SPECIAL THAT IS PLAYED ON THE CHANNEL ALL THE TIME. I'VE MADE A GUEST APPEARANCE ON 'THAT 70'S SHOW' AND I HAVE A VERY VERY SMALL ROLE IN THE NEW CAMERON CROWE FILM, 'ALMOST FAMOUS.' I'VE DONE JUST ABOUT EVERY CABLE COMEDY SHOW AROUND.

RIGHT NOW I AM ON A TOUR IN AN RV WITH MY WIFE. OUR NEXT STOP IS RALEIGH, N.C.. ONE EVENING WE PULLED INTO A KOA TO SLEEP. I HAD TO FILL OUT A RESIGNATION SLIP AND THE SECURITY GUY HANDED ME ONE OF YOUR GEL IMPACT PENS TO DO THE JOB.

IT WAS A VERY SATISFYING WRITING EXPERIENCE TO SAY VERY LITTLE.

I WOULD LOVE TO ARRANGE A SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH YOUR COMPANY SO I CAN PLUG THE THING. I'D BE SO HAPPY TO WEAR A UNIBALL T-SHIRT ON MY NEXT LETTERMAN SPOT. I'D PROMOTE THE PEN ANYWAY POSSIBLE.

I STILL HANDWRITE MOST OF MY JOKES. PERHAPS I WILL TYPE THEM MORE IF UNIBALL UNLEASHES A GEL IMPACT KEYBOARD. I USE PENS CONSTANTLY. YOUR PEN IS IT. I'VE TRIED BUYING EXPENSIVE PENS BUT NONE HAVE LIVED UP TO THE G.I.. SO SMOOTH AND EASY TO CONTROL.

IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO TOGETHER? WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN CO-SPONSORING A TOUR? WE COULD PUT A LARGE BANNER ACROSS THE BACK OF THE STAGE: "GEL IMPACT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WRITTEN VERSIONS OF THE JOKES THIS COMEDIAN IS SAYING."

I'D BE SO PROUD.

LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK AND THANKS A TON FOR READING THIS.

MY PILOT DAYS ARE CLOSING IN.

SINCERELY,

(Signed)

MITCH HEDBERG
(Address redacted)

SORRY ABOUT ANY SPELLING MISHAPS!

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Nevermind Happy Meal

Nirvana's second album — the immeasurably influential and multi-million selling Nevermind — somehow turns 20 tomorrow. The band sent out the following handwritten letter to a number of fans during the run-up to its release on September 24th of 1991, and jokingly referred to, amongst other things, a tie-in with McDonald's whereby copies of the forthcoming album would be bundled in with Happy Meals. Thankfully it remained fictional.

Transcript follows. Image kindly supplied by by Corey Massey.


Image: Corey Massey

Transcript
Thanks for writing! Here at NIRVANA Central, the switch boards are buzzing, the conveyor belts are moving fast, and the crews are working double shifts towards the Septemeber 24th release date. The band, being the benevolent friends of the proleteriet that they are, just raised the coolies pay 10¢ to an even $1.50 an hour. The same price as the ALL AMERICAN MEAL at McDONALDS™.

NIRVANA, in special conjunction with McDonalds™, are proud to announce the NEVERMIND HAPPY MEAL™. The only way to receive NEVERMIND is when you buy the HAPPY MEAL™. It will not be available in stores, just like another project NIRVANA has been working on, NIRVANA PLAY CHARIOTS OF FIRE AND OTHER HITS. It will only be available through a special T.V. offer. And, as an added bonus, a book called NIRVANAS CRAFT SECRETS will be offered. It will show you all of our special touches for those sea shell macrame plant hangers and spray painted macaroni paperweights and much much more.

We are also doing a tour of shopping malls and county fairgrounds to promote out new record and book of craft secrets.

Also in the planning is a video cassette demonstrating how to have a tranquil day at the beach collecting driftwood and sea shells, and how to make the memory last by constructing a wall hanging with what you have found. We'll have tranquil New Age music, along with step by step instructions so you can relax while you work. Rainbow and unicorn stickers will also be included. Look for it in 92.

Well thats all for now folks. See you soon.

Yours truely,

Kurdt, Chris, Dave

Thursday, 22 September 2011

I love life too much

In 1985, 24-year-old Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death after being wrongly convicted of the rape, mutilation, and first-degree murder of a 9-year-old girl named Dawn Hamilton. He spent the next eight years in jail — two of which he spent on death row, awaiting execution — until, in 1993, he became the first such American inmate to be exonerated as a result of DNA profiling. In 2003, another DNA test linked the actual killer, Kimberly Shay Ruffner, to the murder; a crime to which he confessed a year later.

Below is just one of hundreds of admirably level-headed letters Kirk Bloodsworth wrote during his imprisonment, all in an effort to drum up support for his plight. He sent this particular missive to a news reporter at WBAL-TV in 1987.

(While we're on the subject of capital punishment, take a quick look at this list of exonerated death row inmates and, as you scan down what is a frighteningly long page given its content, remember that some of these prisoners had already been executed by the time they were proven innocent.)

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



Transcript
A.I.M.

Mr. Kirk N. Bloodsworth
187-307 B-302
Maryland Penitentiary
954 Forrest, Street.
Baltimore, Maryland. 21202

Miss. Jane Miller (News Reporter)
W*B*A*L - T.V.
3800 Hooper, Avenue.
Baltimore, Maryland. 21211

December 8, 1987

Dear. Miss. Miller

Just wanted to write you again to say Hi and to thank you for being interested enough in this case to see that whats happened is very tragic and a miscarriage of justice. More concerned people like yourself need to get involved to a intense degree, because not just Dawn Hamilton and myself have suffered, but many have and heaven forbid many could in the future.......

I know like I know my name that I'm Innocent and since that is the complete truth one is left with the very chilling fact, who ever murdered (Dawn Hamilton is still out there.) That is the most tragic fact of this whole matter something needs to be done and soon. I hope Miss. Miller you are moved in a positive way towards all of what I say its not from my head, but from my heart. I love life too much Miss. Miller to take it and along those same lines I dont want someone running around in our lives thats not as you and I feel. Who ever or what ever it was that killed the Hamilton child should not be allowed to walk free. But as long as I'm behind these walls a killer laughs at you and I waiting to take another life how long can it be ignored?

Miss. Miller I expect alot from this state even though it cares not about me or the tragity thats fallen upon it and its community. We can not stop in trying to find the real murderer its a must not just for me, but for others like Dawn Hamilton. I hope I've gotten through to you in a very meaningful way it would be sad indeed for it to be otherwise. I hope and pray that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 1988.

Sincerly Yours

(Signed)

Kirk N. Bloodsworth A.I.M.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Frank Sinatra on Crossword Puzzles



When he wasn't charming audiences with his singing and acting skills, the inimitable Frank Sinatra could often be found with his head buried in a crossword puzzle. In fact, such was his love of the trusty crossword that, when he was referenced in the New York Times crossword in the early 1980s, he wrote a thank you note to its editor, Eugene Maleska. Maleska replied, and the ensuing friendship lasted for many years with many letters exchanged.

Below: A lovely letter of thanks from Sinatra to Maleska in 1989, in which he reminisces about his introduction to crossword puzzles as a teenager.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Simmons & Simmons; Image: Frank Sinatra, via.)



Transcript
FRANK SINATRA

September 19, 1989

Dear Gene,

Many, many, many years ago (I was about 15) I was living with my parents in Hoboken, and a school chum of mine asked me if I wanted to work for the summer months. Of course I said yes I would and he helped me get hired with a firm in Wall Street...It was Stryker & Co. My salary was $12.00 a week. I had a wonderful time delivering stock orders, picking up stock orders, etc., etc., etc. The point of this small tale is to say that my job got me into the Crossword Puzzle world.

Getting to work each morning and returning home cost me four cents each way on the ferry. I don't remember learning a hell of a lot about stocks and bonds but – I was introduced to the world of Crossword Puzzles.

My first day to work I stood on the bow of the ferry boat to Christopher Street, where there were other men and women on their way to New York to work, doing my New York Daily News Crossword Puzzle – in pencil. Several days after I started working I noticed a man standing next to me on the ferry also doing a puzzle but in the New York Times. And what put me away was the bum was doing the puzzle in ink! Well sir, not to be outwitted, the next morning on my way to work lo and behold I whipped out a fountain pen. And boy did I ever make a mistake. I realized that without an eraser I was in a lot of trouble. After two or three weeks I wasn't doing too badly and I fell in love with "puzzles", and I still am, and I'm proud to say that I threw away my pencil and from that moment on I moved up to ink, and man was I ever in trouble. Obviously trying to rub out ink was impossible. The challenge delighted me. From that time on I kept timing myself to see how quickly I could complete one. Today I would say a daily puzzle is completed in 30 to 40 minutes. The Sunday puzzle is completed in 90 to 120 minutes. What a wonderful way to pass the time and also learn new answers every day.

So Gene, my boy, keep up the good work and for all puzzlers, we thank you!

(Signed, 'Francis Albert')

Mr. Eugene T. Maleska
c/o The Players Club
New York City

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

HOPE THEY KEEP YOU

On July 15th of 1971, U. S. President Richard Nixon shocked the nation by announcing his intention to visit the People's Republic of China and meet with Chairman Mao. Understandably public reaction was mixed, as illustrated by the following: Two of many messages sent to the White House in response — the first from a Maryann Grelinger of Kansas City, Missouri; the second from Kirk Douglas.

Transcripts follow. Images courtesy of the Nixon Library.



Transcript
WHA007 KA005
K LLD037 POM PD KANSAS CITY MO 16 1242P CDT

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON
THE WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

HAVE FUN IN RED CHINA. HOPE THEY KEEP YOU

MARYANN GRELINGER.



Transcript
KIRK DOUGLAS

July 16, 1971

Dear Mr. President:

Your announcement last night of your impending visit to the People's Republic of China was a giant step forward, not only toward peace in Vietnam but global peace.

May I join the millions of Americans, as well as others around the world, in commending your efforts.

Very sincerely,

(Signed, 'Kirk Douglas')

President Richard M. Nixon
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Monday, 19 September 2011

With great respect, Marge Simpson



Barbara Bush received a letter from the unlikeliest of sources in 1990, after an article in People magazine quoted the First Lady as saying The Simpsons "was the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen." Marge Simpson's polite response can be seen below, followed by the transcript of an apologetic letter from Barbara Bush in reply.

It's worth noting that tensions between the two families resurfaced two years later, when Barbara's husband, then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush, promised, "We're going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons." A reply from Springfield soon materialised in the form of this addition to the show's opening sequence. See also, "Two Bad Neighbors," an episode of The Simpsons screened in 1996 that was inspired by the "feud," and from which the above image came.

As mentioned, transcripts of both Marge's letter and Barbara's reply follow.

(Source: Dear First Lady: Letters to the White House.)



Transcript
THE SIMPSONS™

September 28, 1990

Mrs. Barbara Bush
The First Lady
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Dear First Lady:

I recently read your criticism of my family. I was deeply hurt. Heaven knows we're far from perfect and, if truth be known, maybe just a wee bit short of normal; but as Dr. Seuss says, "a person is a person".

I try to teach my children Bart, Lisa, and even little Maggie, always to give somebody the benefit of the doubt and not talk badly about them, even if they're rich. It's hard to get them to understand this advice when the very First Lady in the country calls us not only dumb, but "the dumbest thing" she ever saw. Ma'am, if we're the dumbest thing you ever saw, Washington must be a good deal different than what they teach me at the current events group at the church.

I always believed in my heart that we had a great deal in common. Each of us living our lives to serve an exceptional man. I hope there is some way out of this controversy. I thought, perhaps, it would be a good start to just speak my mind.

With great respect,

(Signed)

Marge Simpson

Barbara Bush's response:
Dear Marge,

How kind of you to write. I'm glad you spoke your mind; I foolishly didn't know you had one.

I am looking at a picture of you, depicted on a plastic cup, with your blue hair filled with pink birds peeking out all over. Evidently, you and your charming family — Lisa, Homer, Bart and Maggie — are camping out. It is a nice family scene. Clearly you are setting a good example for the rest of the country.

Please forgive a loose tongue.

Warmly,

Barbara Bush

P.S. Homer looks like a handsome fella!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Love music

Steve Vai is considered by many to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time, so it's safe to assume he receives a fair amount of fan mail. Presumably he's also a busy man, so it's heartening to see that he responds to at least some of it with letters like the handwritten one below, sent to an aspiring guitarist named David.

Transcript follows. Image supplied by D. Barr.




Image: D. Barr

Transcript
Light Without Heat, Inc.

Dear David,

I received and read your letter. You sound dedicated.

The desire to play an instrument must come from within you. You should not wait for a letter or an approval from anyone else to decide that you should play. Either you don't want to or you have no choice because your heart compels you to.

If your looking for an outlet for your emotional expression, a musical instrument, especially the guitar, is great.

I'll try to answer some of your questions...

1). I believe emotions can be reflected in music under any state of mind.

2). I have written some very depressing music but I have chosen not to release much of it.

3). I have never written music while drunk or stoned. I don't do that stuff.

I wish you well pal,

(Signed, 'Steve Vai')

Love music

Thursday, 15 September 2011

You are the hippest of cats



The following note was written by Audrey Hepburn in 1961, shortly after hearing the musical score for her latest movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's, for the first time. Such was her delight, she wrote a charming letter of praise to its composer, Henry Mancini; a man who would later be awarded an Academy Award for his efforts.

Short, but very sweet.

Apologies for the image's poor quality. A transcript follows.

(Source: Breakfast at Tiffany's liner notes; Image of Henry Mancini & Audrey Hepburn via.)



Transcript
Dear Henry,

I have just seen our picture – BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S – this time with your score.

A movie without music is a little bit like an aeroplane without fuel. However beautifully the job is done, we are still on the ground and in a world of reality. Your music has lifted us all up and sent us soaring. Everything we cannot say with words or show with action you have expressed for us. You have done this with so much imagination, fun and beauty.

You are the hippest of cats – and the most sensitive of composers!

Thank you, dear Hank.

Lots of love
Audrey

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

That man basked in your light

It's not often you see a letter of thanks from one legendary figure to another, and certainly not as heartfelt as this example. It was written in 1976 by Ray Bradbury and sent to fellow author Robert Heinlein; a man who clearly influenced and guided Bradbury during his early years. His gratitude was plain to see, almost 40 years later.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Houston Press.



Transcript
DEAR BOB:

YOUR INFLUENCE ON US ALL, FROM 1939 ON, CANNOT BE MEASURED. I CAN ONLY SAY I REMEMBER, WARMLY, YOUR MANY KINDNESSES TO ME WHEN I WAS 19–20–21 YEARS OLD. THAT YOUNG MAN BASKED IN YOUR LIGHT AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE HELP YOU OFFERED WHEN I WAS SO POOR & NEEDFUL! YOURS IN THAT MEMORY — RAY BRADBURY

AUG – 1976

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

SEVEN LITTLE MEN HELP A GIRL

When, in early-1986, Disney executives decided to change the title of their upcoming animated feature from 'Basil of Baker Street' to the less ambiguous 'The Great Mouse Detective', its production team were less than pleased. One animator in particular, Ed Gombert, harnessed his displeasure to comical effect by creating, and circulating, the following: a fake memo purportedly from then-head of department, Peter Schneider, in which he announced the retroactive renaming of Disney's entire back catalogue, bar The Aristocats, in a similarly bland style.

It was a hit, and in fact such was its popularity that the memo soon reached a very unimpressed Jeff Katzenberg, then-CEO of Disney, who, after questioning an entirely innocent Schneider, tried and failed to uncover the identity of the memo's creator. To make matters worse, a copy then found its way to the LA Times.

To Disney's dismay the movie's name was suddenly on everyone's lips, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Drawn2gether.


Image: Drawn2gether

Transcript
Walt Disney PICTURES

INTER-OFFICE COMMUNICATION

TO: ANIMATION DEPARTMENT
FROM: Peter Schneider EXT: 2630
DATE: February 13, 1986
SUBJECT:

Along with the new title for "Basil of Baker Street" it has been decided to re-name the entire library of animated classics. The new titles are as follows...

"SEVEN LITTLE MEN HELP A GIRL"

"THE WOODEN BOY WHO BECAME REAL"

"COLOR AND MUSIC"

"THE WONDERFUL ELEPHANT WHO COULD REALLY FLY"

"THE LITTLE DEER WHO GREW UP"

"THE GIRL WITH THE SEE-THROUGH SHOES"

"THE GIRL IN THE IMAGINARY WORLD"

"THE AMAZING FLYING CHILDREN"

"TWO DOGS IN LOVE"

"THE GIRL WHO SEEMED TO DIE"

"PUPPIES TAKEN AWAY"

"THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING"

"A BOY, A BEAR AND A BIG BLACK CAT"

"ARISTOCATS"

"ROBIN HOOD WITH ANIMALS"

"TWO MICE SAVE A GIRL"

"A FOX AND A HOUND ARE FRIENDS"

"THE EVIL BONEHEAD"

And of course our latest classic destined to win the hearts of the american public...

"THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE"

Monday, 12 September 2011

The ring of fire still burns around you and I

Today we have two endearing pieces from the hand of Johnny Cash, a musical legend who needs no introduction. The first is a poetic, undated love note to his wife, June; the second, an utterly charming to-do list.

Transcripts follow. First image taken from the forthcoming book, "House of Cash"; second image courtesy of Julien's Auctions. Many thanks to the lovely India Knight for bringing the former to my attention.



Transcript
Hey June,

That's really nice June. You've got a way with words and a way with me as well.

The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don't go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.

Love John



Transcript
THINGS TO DO TODAY!

1. Not smoke
2. Kiss June
3. Not kiss anyone else
4. Cough
5. Pee
6. Eat
7. Not eat too much
8. Worry
9. Go see Mama
10. Practice Piano

NOTES: Not write notes

Friday, 9 September 2011

We're 2!

Dear All,

Letters of Note turns 2 today.

Before you tear open that packet of celebratory scotch eggs, let me first thank you all for revisiting the website as much as you have. Had it not been for the positive reaction I've witnessed since its inception, particularly the lovely responses I received following Commentgate, I have a feeling I may have stopped what is a very time-consuming project a long time ago. So, heartfelt thanks for your support.

Unfortunately there will be no new letter today as I have a very busy, very exciting day ahead that happens to relate to Letters of Note, the details of which will become clear over the coming weeks. That said, I will no doubt be active on Twitter during the day, so grab a seat and listen to me waffle. A new letter will surface on Monday, but in the meantime I suggest either diving into the archives or visiting Letterheady, my other site, to enjoy numerous examples of notable stationery. It's more interesting than it sounds.  

Finally, I'm always on the lookout for letters, so keep your eyes open and get in touch by email should you see something of note. Also remember — and this is probably the most important thing I've ever said — that you can support Letters of Note by way of a financial donation. Throw money at me via PayPal. Thank you in advance, and bear in mind that every penny will be spent frivolously.

Thanks again,

Shaun

Thursday, 8 September 2011

COME AT ONCE HANK IS DEAD

Millions of hearts broke in 1953 when, on January 1st, the news of the death of 29-year-old Hiram Williams began to circulate. Hiram was better known to most by his stage name, Hank Williams; a talented young man who recorded hit after hit during his short but illustrious country music career. Sadly, addictions to alcohol and painkillers proved too much for his body to bear.

Below is the telegram sent to Hank's sister by his mother that fateful day, immediately after receiving news of his death.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Brian Bubonic.



Transcript
WESTERN UNION

NF032 RX PD=MONTGOMERY ALA 1 701A=
MRS J K SMITH=
199 SMITH PLACE APT 77 WILLIAMS COURT APT PM=

COME AT ONCE HANK IS DEAD=
MOTHER=

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

He is talented to the point of genius



One of Orson Welles's biggest supporters during his early years was a man called Roger Hill. Hill was Welles's teacher and later headmaster at Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois, and, having spotted the future filmmaker's talents very early on, spent a great deal of time and effort adapting the curriculum to suit his skills. The following letter of recommendation, written by Hill to Cornell College when Welles was 16 years of age, is a perfect illustration of his desire to see him leave school on the best possible footing.

Despite Hill's best efforts, Orson Welles turned down an offer to study at Cornell. He also disappointed those at Harvard, and indeed Boris Anisfeld, by instead travelling to Europe to begin his now celebrated career.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Cornell College; Image: Orson Welles in 1937, via Wikipedia.)





Transcript
TODD SCHOOL FOR BOYS

September 6, 1931

Professor Clyde Tull,
Cornell College,
Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Dear Professor Tull:

I am writing you about one of our graduates, Orson Welles. He was really doing post graduate work with us last year and I am anxious to have him located for his best interests this fall.

You may have heard of him. Nearly everyone connected with the arts, the opera, or the stage in Chicago, knows him and they have all done their best to spoil him, but I think he is very sound and very sensible, although he is definitely talented to the point of genius.

He has been offered a scholarship in the Harvard Drama school next year but I feel that this should be postponed at least two years. Fritz Lieber wants him in his company and well he might, for I consider him better than anyone of them.

His mother and father are dead, his guardian is Dr. Maurice Bernstein, well known Chicago orthopedist but probably better known just now through the newspaper publicity in regard to his divorce from his prima donna wife, Edith Mason.

Although up to this summer he has done little with his artistic talents, they are equal to his dramatic ones and both the Doctor and I are hoping that he will follow these for a life work. This summer, Anisfeld, the Russian scene designer who is now a guest teacher at the Art Institute, took him under his wing and wants him to live with him this winter and study art, but I would rather have him out of the city.

The last half of this summer, he has been in Ireland. Each summer for several years, he has taken a somewhat similar trip; last summer to China, the summer before to Central Europe. I am enclosing my most recent letter from him and also a copy of our school catalog. Every word of this book was either written or edited by him. The only "cheating" I did in this was to make him cut out some of his best bits of writing as they were too completely mature.

We can very honestly give him credit for three years high school work, work done in the class room with the proper number of hours. Of course, actually his education in all cultural subjects is now beyond that of the ordinary college graduate. I rather doubt if he could pass a college board examination in Algebra, although he passed this course with us. He is rather weak in mathematics.

I have been told of your work and I am writing to you rather than to some vague official of your institution as I know his case is one that will interest you greatly. He will be back in New York in about a week and I should like to have him definitely entered in Cornell by that time. Please let me know at once just what steps I should take toward this.

Thanking you for your cooperation in this and assuring you that you have a treat in store for you if the lad comes to Cornell, I am

Sincerely yours,

(Signed)

RH:BC

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

We must stop not meeting like this

The following ridiculous letter — and I mean that in the best possible sense — was written in 1982 by chat show host Michael Parkinson, and sent to a friend and much-loved comedian who was an interviewee of his on numerous occasions: Spike Milligan. I'm afraid I have nothing to offer in terms of context, however after reading a few lines of this enjoyably absurd missive you'll come to realise that such a thing really isn't important.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Bonhams.


Image: Bonhams

Transcript
BBC TV

16th March, 1982.

Mr. Spike Milligan,
[Redacted]

Dear Spike Milligan,

The last man I know who stood in front of a mirror looking at his wedding appendage was my Uncle Athelston. He went on a self improvement course involving weights and ended up with a very long appendage but very short bandy legs and a hunch back. Moreover, I must object to you mentioning my mother in the same breath as your appendage. What would your own dear mother, far away in Woy-Woy think if she were to learn of your behaviour? How could she hold her head high as Australia's first lady when her son is impersonating anothers mother? Your trouble Sir is you care more about woodpeckers and badgers than you do about people. I'll bet you don't stand naked in front of a mirror while thinking of the sperm whale! You are an imposter sir, a charlatan and ne'er do well. No wonder Her Gracious Majesty never knighted you like she did that nice Mr. Secombe. She knows what she's doing, unlike some I could mention.

Yours in sport,

(Signed, 'Michael')

MICHAEL PARKINSON

P.S. Is the Oliver Reed you mention in your letter the big fat one or the short silly one who keeps snivelling?

P.P.S. Have just been informed that a sudden attack of the squitters prevented you from meeting me for dinner. That's what happens when you wear frocks and sit on cold doorsteps. We must stop not meeting like this. I will contact you on Mothering Sunday or when your piles return to their home. Whichever is the soonest and the most pleasant!

Monday, 5 September 2011

I am gratefuler than ever before...

From 1888, a simple love note from the hand of Samuel Clemens — better known to most as Mark Twain — to his wife, Olivia.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of The Mark Twain House & Museum.



Transcript
Hartford, Nov. 27/88

Livy Darling, I am grateful — gratefuler than ever before — that you were born, & that your love is mine & our two lives woven & welded together!

SLC.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Dear Loser

Here, in all its glory, is the form rejection letter sent to unsuccessful acts in the 1990s by legendary record label Sub Pop. Just to clarify: "Dear Loser" appeared at the top of all Sub Pop rejection letters.

What's not to love?

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of MoLo_trash at Flickr.


Image: MoLo_trash

Transcript
From... Sub Pop
... CELEBRATING SEVERAL YEARS OF RECORD MAKING

Dear Loser,

Thank you for sending your demo materials to Sub Pop for consideration.

Presently, your demo package is one of a massive quantity of commendable material we receive every day at Sub Pop World Headquarters, and is (due to time and volume restrictions) on it's way through the great lower intestine that is the talent-acquisition process*.

We appreciate your interest in Sub Pop and wish you the best in your pursuit.

Kind Regards.

*This is a form letter. This letter is what is known as "a rejection letter."