I’ve been chipping away at processing and archiving family papers lately. Tonight I came across a folder of papers from when my mother was a full time instructor in the LSU English Department, circa 1979. Among the exams and worksheets she used in class was this little gem:
THE FOLLOWING ARE EXAMPLES OF UNCLEAR WRITING. SENTENCES ARE ACTUAL LETTERS RECEIVED BY THE WELFARE DEPARTMENT IN APPLICATION FOR SUPPORT.
- I am forwarding my marriage certificate and six children. I have seven, but one died which was baptized on a half sheet of paper.
- 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.
- I cannot get sick pay. I have six children. Can you tell me why?
- I am glad to report that my husband who is missing is dead.
- This is my eighth child. What are you going to do about it?
- Please find for certain if my husband is dead. The man I am living with can’t eat or do anything until he knows.
- 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.
- In answer to your letter, I have given birth to a boy weighing ten pounds. I hope this is satisfactory.
- I am forwarding my marriage certificate and my three children, one of which is a mistake as you can see.
- My husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven’t had any relief since.
- Unless I get my husband’s money pretty soon, I will be forced to lead an immortal life.
- You have changed my little boy to a girl. Will this make a difference?
- I have no children as yet as my husband is a truck driver and works day and night.
- In accordance with your instructions, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.
- I want money as quick as I can get it. I have 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.