Thank You from the Old Folks Home
Netlore Archive: An 84-year-old resident of the Safety Harbor Assisted Home for the Aged writes to administrators of a local middle school to thank them for the radio she won at a senior citizens' luncheon.
Description: Email joke / Faxlore
Circulating since: 1999 (Internet version)
Status: False (see details below)
Email text contributed by M. Levy, March 21, 2003:
Just when you lost faith in human kindness:
Someone who teaches at a Middle School in Safety Harbor, Florida forwarded the following letter. The letter was sent to the principal's office after the school had sponsored a luncheon for the elderly. An old lady received a new radio at the lunch, and was writing to say thanks.
God blesses you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent senior citizens luncheon. I am 84 years old and live at the Safety Harbor Assisted Home for the Aged. All of my family has passed away. I am all alone now and it's nice to know that someone is thinking of me. God bless you for your kindness to an old forgotten lady.
My roommate is 95 and always had her own radio, but before I received one, she would never let me listen to hers, even when she was napping. The other day her radio fell off the night stand and broke into a lot of pieces. It was awful and she was in tears. She asked if she could listen to mine, and I said, "Fuck you."
Life is good.
Analysis: Notwithstanding some people's conviction that this is a real letter written by a real (if unusually plainspoken) senior citizen, it's actually an old joke originally documented by Alan Dundes and Carl Pagter in their 1975 book, Urban Folklore of the Paperwork Empire.
In that "faxlore" variant, shakily handwritten and signed by one "Marjorie Winters" of the "Wilton Retirement Home," the supposed letter is addressed to "Dear Sir," with no mention of a middle school or senior citizens' luncheon. But the structure of the joke is the same, as is the punchline.
The earliest online version I've been able to find is dated Dec. 1999 and contains the reference to Safety Harbor Middle School. It was signed "Edna Johnson," though other Internet versions bear the signature "Edna Walters," or simply "Edna."
One reason people are fooled into thinking it's real is that there really is a Safety Harbor Middle School in western Florida. For good measure, I contacted the school's current principal, who wrote back: "Unfortunately this has been circulating for the past few years. It is not true and I have no idea how it got started."
It was clearly not the first time she'd been asked about it. Nor, I'm afraid, will it be the last.
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Last updated: 04/04/12