Back in the days when state welfare was relied upon by the needy, and long before the days of digital communication, the rapidly fading system of letter writing kept all involved informed of the status of their accounts. We can only hope that letters from welfare recipients kept the government workers in stitches while doing what many would consider a very dull job. Following are a few excerpts of such letters:
I am glad to report that my husband who is missing is dead.
I am very much annoyed to find you have branded my son illiterate. This is a dirty lie as I was married a week before he was born.
Unless I get my money soon, I will be forced to live an immortal life.
You have changed my little boy to a girl. Will this make a difference?
I am forwarding my marriage certificate and three children, one of which is a mistake as you can see.
I cannot get sick pay. I have six children. Can you tell me why?
I am writing the Welfare Department to say that my baby was born two years old. When do I get my money?
Mrs. Jones has not had any clothes for a year and has been visited regularly by the clergy.
Please find for certain if my husband is dead. The man I am now living with can’t eat or do anything till he knows.
In answer to your letter, I have given birth to a boy weighing 10 pounds. I hope this is satisfactory.
My husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven’t had any relief since.
I want my money as quick as I can get it. I’ve been in bed with the doctor for two weeks and he doesn’t do me any good. If things don’t improve, I will have to send for another doctor.
Misguided wording is not, of course, limited to those folks in need of financial assistance. Is there anyone among us who has not done a double take of a billboard or road sign? Following are actual signs observed in and around the dear old United States of America:
At restaurant-gas stations throughout the nation: Eat here and get gas.
At a Santa Fe gas station: We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container.
In a New Hampshire jewelry store: Ears pierced while you wait.
In a New York restaurant: Customers who consider our waitresses uncivil ought to see the manager.
In a Michigan restaurant: The early bird gets the worm! Special shoppers’ luncheon before 11 a.m.
On a delicatessen wall: Our best is none too good.
On the wall of a Baltimore estate: Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. —Sisters of Mercy.
On a long-established New Mexico dry cleaning store: Thirty-eight years on the same spot.
In a Los Angeles dance hall: Good clean dancing every night but Sunday.
On a movie theater: Children’s matinee today. Adults not admitted unless with child.
In a Florida maternity ward: No children allowed.
On a New York loft building: Wanted: Woman to sew buttons on the fourth floor.
In a New Hampshire medical building: Martin Diabetes Professional Ass.
In the office of a loan company: Ask about our plans for owning your home.
In a New York medical building: Mental health prevention center.
In a toy department: Five Santa Clauses. No waiting.
On a New York convalescent home: For the sick and tired of the Episcopal church.
On a Maine shop: Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship.
On a display of “I Love You Only” Valentine cards: Now available in multi-packs.
In the window of a Kentucky appliance store: Don’t kill your wife. Let our washing machines do the dirty work.
In a funeral parlor: Ask about our layaway plan.
In a clothing store: Wonderful bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks.
Yet even the so-called pros—you know, editors—get it wrong under the pressure of an approaching deadline and give us a chuckle or two. Following are gaffes from actual newspaper and magazine articles:
The accident occurred at Hillcrest Drive and Santa Barbara Avenue as the dead man was crossing the intersection.
Mr. Benjamin Porter visited the school yesterday and lectured on “Destructive Pests.” A large number were present.
Columbia, Tennessee, which calls itself the largest outdoor mule market in the world, held a mule parade yesterday headed by the governor.
A man was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct after he was found nude in a car at a hotel parking lot. A woman staying at the hotel said a man, wearing only a T-shirt, confronted her near her room. The woman told police she chased the man, but he escaped.
A whimsical number titled “London Derriere” was played by Stein as his salute to St. Patrick’s Day. (If you’re not a music buff, the song is titled “Londonderry Air.”)
The assembly passed and sent to the senate a bill requiring dog owners in New York City to clean up after their pets, in penalty of $100 fine. The bill also applies to Buffalo.
What is more beautiful for the blonde to wear for formal dances than white tulle? My answer—and I am sure you will agree with me—is “Nothing.”
(Thanks to Richard Lederer, reprinted with permission.)
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com