Time to straighten the record

On October 29, 1934, Elliott White Springs wrote a letter to Time, politely correcting some inaccuracies in a story they had printed about him.

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“I found your report [TIME, Sept. 24] interesting. I am sure you want to keep your files accurate and suggest that they be changed slightly.

When I wish to dress up around the mills and wear a coat it is not of 1917 vintage, as you report, but was made in 1921. The straw-woven shoes are now no more, as at least a dozen old friends read your report and have supplied me with new pairs. The $20,000,000 with which I am credited is entirely a myth but since your article appeared I have received wires and letters from acquaintances of years gone by requesting immediate loans. I believe I am also safe in stating that I have been given the opportunity to finance at least half of the new inventions which have patents now pending.

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To offset that, however, my social popularity has increased as much as if I had learned to play the piano, gotten rid of halitosis, used Lifebuoy, or spoken to the waiter in French. . . .

Upon my recent visit to the marts of trade and the fleshpots of Egypt, your assurances as to my financial stability caused such interest that I feel my days as a wallflower are over.

The fact that my wife read the article also and spent several days shopping upon the strength of it will have to be charged to the debit side.

Every tailor in the country now feels it is time for me to buy a new coat and I think it only fair that when I do so they should give TIME a commission on the business.”

On Monday October 8, 1934, they printed an article about Diamond Jim Brady and his collection of precious gems.

Besides such curios as a diamond-tipped cane, he owned 30 complete sets of jeweled cuff links, studs, tie pins, fobs, watch chains, etc. A railroad man, he enjoyed blazoning the fact by wearing what became one of his most famed diamond arrangements— the Transportation Set.

image from here. click to enlarge

Most amusing to today’s public was a design of a Pullman car which Mr. Brady liked to pin on his underwear. Almost two inches long were his freight and passenger car cuff links. A bicycle-shaped stud was reminiscent of the goldplated, diamond-studded bicycle he gave to Lillian Russell, who kept it in a plush case when she was not riding it.

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But according to another letter to the editor penned by Lillian Russell’s daughter, Dorothy Russell Solomon de Castiglione Einstein O’Reilly Calvit, this fact was disputed.

My mother, Lillian Russell, was not even acquainted with Mr. Brady during the bicycle era. As for the vehicle itself, it had a goldplated handlebar with mother-of-pearl grips, no diamonds. The pedals were also goldplated. The bicycle was a gift from the Columbia Bicycle manufacturers in appreciation of the vast amount of publicity they derived from her using their product and because she had purchased so many of them, one for each member of the family. . . .

To Dorothy Russell Solomon de Castiglione Einstein O’Reilly Calvit, who won fame of her own by upsetting the will of her stepfather, the late Alexander Pollock Moore (TIME, May 4, 1931), thanks for a description of her mother’s bicycle. Confronted with it, Author Morell sticks to his story.

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Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 8:03 am  Comments (36)  
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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why don’t we get letters to the editor like that any more? I just loved it. And I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of needing to wear jewelry on one’s underwear. Doesn’t sound that comfortable to me.

    • Fabulous letter wasn’t it?

  2. i am now going to have to have a plush case for my bicycle…

    • … and mother-of-pearl grips?

  3. Most informative. Some useful tips on how I might increase my social popularity.

    • Eradicating one’s halitosis is a fine start

  4. I don’t have a diamond-tipped cane, but I do have a cane with flames running up it, like Dr. House. You’ll want a cane with a curved end so in case you’re in a rumble you can hook people’s legs and trip them.

  5. great letter!!

    • I like the tips on how to increase popularity

      • i could use those..

  6. I may have to bring a Letter to the Editor addition to my letters shtick. It was an art form back in the day.

  7. BEST. Letter to the Editor. EVER.

    Also, who doesn’t want to pin a car to their underwear?

  8. “The fact that my wife read the article also and spent several days shopping upon the strength of it …….” If I said this was a typical reaction I’d be in trouble wouldn’t I? …… so I won’t ……

    • You’re always going to be in trouble daddyp

  9. I might just add that I had a letter published in the Times many years ago ….. I believe the TG edited that as well ……..

  10. Dorothy Russell Solomon de Castiglione Einstein O’Reilly Calvit could probably just shorten her name to Understimulated.

    • I don’t think she was much of an Einstein

  11. Nice to see journalists in the 30’s checked their facts as fastidiously as they do today. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    • A little harmless embellishment…..

  12. Those Brady Kids got the life

    • and two inch cufflinks!

  13. I keep my gold-plated, diamand-studded bicycle in storage and instead ride my platinum one.

    • Maybe we could go on a tandem ride one day…..?

  14. They are wonderful letters, but lets not discount the importance of clarifying that the bicycle was merely coated with mother of pearl grips, and not diamond clad at all…..This is a most important correction

  15. The truth is out there…

  16. That Lifebuoy is powerful stuff!

  17. Your letter to the editor was right on – it sizzled in all the right places. Now I need you to write a “letter to Ed” for me. He was my last boyfriend, but he left me for a small Asian woman. I’m sure he’s waiting for a letter from me. Snail mail too. Let me know if you have any ideas. I want it to sound learned and snarky.

    • You should just tell him about your new model vagina 😉

  18. I like the way his wife medicates.

  19. D-Man just got a nice new bike for his b-day. He immediately started talking about replacing the grips…I trust he will not save up enough for Mother-of-Pearl ones. When people are patient–even if slightly sarcastic–when making a correction, it’s nice, eh?

  20. This sounds like the blog post I had to write when a reporter accused me of running red lights.

  21. Loved the first correction letter! And the next one surprised me that Time would even utter “underwear” in a story. Since Mr. Brady didn’t dispute the items (and I’m sure Time had those all wrong, too), I sincerely doubt he had a railroad car pinned to his underwear, and Time really took that one a little too far. Maybe one of their other reporters had Mr. Brady hogtied for the duration of the printing release and he never got a timely chance to respond in the “Corrections” section. Tsk … Time. 😉


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