Listeners Share Their Own 'Letters Of Note'
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Last week, we ran a series inspired by the book "Letters Of Note." And today, we want to read a few of your stories. We asked you to tell us about a letter that left an impression.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Connie Coles Weber, a former teacher from Bothell, Washington, sent this in.
In September, I wrote a letter to my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Butcher, thanking him for being such a forward-thinking and exceptional teacher back in 1972. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Butcher wrote back. He told me that he'd always felt he hadn't done his best by me. And that he saw in my 10-year-old self compassion and potential. Mr. Butcher had something new to teach me after 42 years; there's something even better than being remembered by a student, and that is being remembered by a teacher.
CORNISH: In 1980, Elaine Smith of Elkton, Virginia, told us she received a letter from a certain older gentleman she admired. She was in college and aspiring actress. And I think it's safe to say he'd already made it as an actor. She wrote him a fan letter.
SIEGEL: He wrote back saying, thank you so much indeed for your sweet letter, which I've only just seen as I have been filming abroad. It was so kind of you to take the trouble to write as you did. Signed, Laurence Olivier.
CORNISH: Elaine Smith tells us the letter floored her - literally. She saw the name and fell over.
SIEGEL: Steven Roberts of Friday Harbor, Washington, writes this - my mother worked as a fashion model in New York in the 1930s. And it was fascinating to discover a wealth of photos and archives from this epoch of her life.
CORNISH: His favorite item - a letter of recommendation that reads like a secret love letter to his mother. It was written by a man who may have dated her or may have just had the hots for her. We'll never know. The man was St. Clair McKelway, the managing editor of the New Yorker in the '30s. The model he admired wanted to live at the Barbizon Hotel and asked McKelway to recommend her. Here's a bit of his letter.
SIEGEL: (Reading) Miss Phyllis McCarthy of Worcester, Massachusetts, has given you my name as a reference asking me if I would give you my opinion as to the, quote, "desirability of Miss McCarthy, which of course would be held in strict confidence." It certainly is a coincidence that you should write me just at this time, when the desirability of Miss McCarthy is practically the only thing on my mind. I have been telling everybody I know how desirable she is and haven't even asked them to keep it in confidence, since, as far as I'm concerned, my opinion of Miss McCarthy can be put in electric lights over Broadway or written in the sky.
CORNISH: And he just keeps going.
SIEGEL: (Reading) She pretends sometimes to be demure and feminine, which she no doubt is when she wants to be. But a man would be a fool to rush those fortifications of hers without first battering them down with flowers, hamburgers, exotic fruits, steak, symphonic music, French pastry and honeyed words.
CORNISH: And those are just some of the highlights of that glowing recommendation. Our thanks to Steven Roberts, the son of the much-admired Miss McCarthy. And many thanks to all of you who shared your letters of note.
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