December 14, 2004 Volume 4 Issue 31
To & From Letters
A poet with a bow tie, the guy you "see on the radio", has pulled together a collection of letters.
Funny Letters from Famous People, edited by Charles Osgood, is one of the most enjoyable reads I've had this year. This book, a gift from my bride and partner, Nancy, gave me a score of out loud laughs.
The writing of letters is still a key part of direct mail marketing. So, I decided to share some fun, and frequently good, thoughts from famous politicians, authors and many from the world of show business.
Osgood begins his Introduction this way; "Letter writing is close to becoming a lost art in this day of e-mail, the Internet, word processing, cell phones and answering machines.
"Many people today seldom if ever sit down and write actual letters anymore. On those rare occasions when they do try to write a letter, they often find that their lettter-writing skills have atrophied. Besides, they can't find anything decent to write with."
I could continue, yet, if you are a tad like me you already get the picture. Because I am being described just as I am.
History as we read it today would not be what it is without letters. i.e., John and Abigail Adams maybe shared more about early America than any others ... with their letters to each other.
A real letter to a real person about a real situation is still an excellent way to tell a story, to establish a position, and most importantly, to stay in touch with others. Here, from the book, are letters. Some funny, some serious, each with a message between people.
George Washington sent a congratulatory message to then Governor Henry Lee of Virginia, on the occasion of his marriage;
"You have exchanged the rugged field of Mars for the soft and pleasurable bed of Venus."
President Abraham Lincoln found General George McClellan to be more of a hindrance than a help during certain phases of the Civil war. Here is one exchange, first from McClellan to Lincoln;
"We have just captured six cows. What shall we do with them?"
Lincoln, in response; "As to the six cows captured - milk them."
President Herbert Hoover hosted for lunch a young boy. Afterwards Hoover received a note from the lad telling him no one in the boy's hometown believed his story, or that spinach had been served. Hoover promptly replied;
"This is to certify that you lunched at the White House with me. I have never been strong for spinach myself, and had meant to tell you that you didn't have to eat it."
Before Harry Truman left to attend the Potsdam Conference toward the end of World War II, he wrote this to his mother;
"I am getting ready to see Stalin and Churchill and it is a chore. I have to take my tuxedo, tails, preacher coat, high hat, low hat and hard hat."
Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower exchanged many letters. Here's a lift by Ike to his wife in the fall of 1945;
"... George Patton has broken in to print again in a big way. That man is going to drive me to drink. He misses more good opportunities to keep his mouth shut than almost anyone I ever knew."
Barry Goldwater once asked John Kennedy to autograph a picture he had taken of him. The President responded this way;
"For Barry Goldwater, whom I urge to follow the career for which he has shown so much talent - photography. From his friend, John Kennedy."
In an exchange over words and appointments, William Proxmire shared these thoughts with a constituent;
"If you are still curious about why Mr. Eisenhower appointed Warren, I suggest you write directly to the farm at Gettysburg. In fact, send all your future letters there. Mr. Eisenhower needs a lot of fertilizer these days, so they say."
As shared earlier, letter writing has become more difficult today than in the past.
Still, as we read here from Washington Irving, it has always been a problem for some;
"For my part I know no greater delight than to receive letters; but the replying to them is a grievous tax upon my negligent nature. I sometimes think one of the greatest blessings we shall enjoy in heaven will be to receive letters by every post and never be obliged to reply to them."
Gustave Flaubert sent this response to a, well, er, 'lady' wishing to visit him;
"I was told that you took the trouble to come here to see me three times last evening. I was not in. And, fearing lest persistence expose you to humiliation, I am bound by the rules of politeness to warn you that I shall never be in."
Because of his position, Horace Greeley was asked by a reader for an autograph of Edgar A. Poe. This is the response;
"I happen to have in my possession but one autograph of the late distinguished American poet, Edgar A. Poe. It consists of an I.O.U., with my name on the back of it. It cost me just $51.50, and you can have it for half price."
To the editor of a magazine reporting on the folk-singing concerts of Carl Sandburg, he said this;
"Would you kindly correct the statement published a number of times that in the song offering in my recital-concerts I employ a banjo? ... At music stories and pawn shops the instrument is called a guitar, a GUITAR. A banjo is meant for jigs, buck and wing dances, attack, surprise, riot and rout. The guitar is intended for serenades, croons, for retreat, retirement, fadeaways."
Groucho Marx appeared on the cover of the December 31, 1951 issue of Time. He quickly sent this letter to the publisher;
"The picture of me on the cover of Time has changed my entire life. Where formerly my hours were spent playing golf and chasing girls, I now while away the days loitering around Beverly Hills's largest newsstand, selling copies of December 31's issue of Time at premium prices."
At another time Groucho complained to Fred Allen about the people who listened to his radio program and wrote him letters about it;
"it seems to me that your dilemma is posed by high standards. you cater to a class of radio and tv owner who can write. when you appeal to a literate element, people who not only own radio and tv sets but who also own pens and pencils and know how to use them, you have to expect mail."
A good ending to this preview comes from James Thurber. A reader asked him why he wrote what he wrote. The response is as applicable today as the day it was first penned.
"You can tell where I get my ideas from the things I write and then you will know as much about it as I do. To write about people you have to know people, to write about bloodhounds you have to know about bloodhounds, to write about the Loch Ness monster you have to find out about it."
You can get your copy of this history, learning and laughs book by Charlie Osgood at your local book store or online @ Barnes & Noble.com - Book Search: Charles Osgood
These few words from Anonymous are perfect for the Holiday gift giving season
"Give and never remember ... receive and never forget."
The RJm Story
"How To REALLY Do Marketing Right!" is a sub-title I've used in my writings for a decade and a half. Or more.
It came about because many of the 'how to ...' papers didn't do a very good job in talking direct marking as a discipline. A complete discipline.
Are you seeking a different answer? Maybe an outrageous thought? Something truly not within your current marketing and sales circle?
Maybe I can help. By bringing to you and your organization a point of view undoubtedly different than yours. To help you see through the maze...the maze that is your every day business.
Interested? Send an E-mail to Ray@RayJutkins.com or phone+1+760-376-1858.
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