As a historian, I find presidential correspondence to be uniquely fascinating.

Once, when reading a book about the subject, I ran across this particularly humorous piece:

Andy Smith
400 London Pride Road
Irmo, South Carolina 29063

April 18, 1984

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Andy Smith. I am a seventh grade student at Irmo Middle School, in Irmo, South Carolina.

Today my mother declared my bedroom a disaster area. I would like to request federal funds to hire a crew to clean up my room. I am prepared to provide the initial funds if you will provide matching funds for this project. 

I know you will be fair when you consider my request. I will be awaiting your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Andy Smith


May 11, 1984

Dear Andy:

I’m sorry to be so late in answering your letter but, as you know, I’ve been in China and found your letter here upon my return. 

Your application for disaster relief has been duly noted but I must point out one technical problem: the authority declaring the disaster is supposed to make the request. In this case, your mother. 

However, setting that aside, I’ll have to point out the larger problem of available funds. This has been a year of disasters: 539 hurricanes as of May 4th and several more since, numerous floods, forest fires, drought in Texas and a number of earthquakes. What I’m getting at is that funds are dangerously low. 

May I make a suggestion? This Administration, believing that government has done many things that could better be done by volunteers at the local level, has sponsored a Private Sector Initiative Program, calling upon people to practice voluntarism in the solving of a number of local problems. 

Your situation appears to be a natural. I’m sure your mother was fully justified in proclaiming your room a disaster. Therefore, you are in an excellent position to launch another volunteer program to go along with the more than 3000 already underway in our nation. Congratulations.

Give my best regards to your mother.


Ronald Reagan

I find myself in a similar place as poor Andy today, (except my mother is not the one declaring the disaster, I am).

It would be fantastic if I could see more than one square foot of carpet on my floor as opposed to baskets full of crap and laundry scattered about. Random art pieces are sort of strewn everywhere, and there is no order to anything.

It’s driving me up the wall.

Since it’s a beautifully sunny day, I’m encouraged to actually clean.

What a novel idea. I know.

The problem is, where to start?

I threw a load of laundry into the washer and started making piles of laundry left to do, but goodness! Do I work my way out from the corner? Do I start in the middle? Holy cow!

Mostly, I’m sitting frozen on my bed just staring at the mess I’ve made thinking that I’m an idiot.

Oh well. Off to start somewhere I guess.

I suppose that seventh grade Andy had this problem too.

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