[Ads-l] Sources for FedEx Anecdote

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 13 00:24:33 EST 2017

Back in May 2016 Fred asked about a tale concerning Federal Express
(now FedEx) founder Frederick W. Smith. When he was an undergraduate
he supposedly wrote a paper proposing the creation of an overnight
delivery company. The professor evaluating the work was unimpressed
and gave him a C grade.


The Quote Investigator website now has an article on the topic:

I Don’t Know, Probably Made My Usual C

[Begin acknowledgment]
Great thanks to Fred R. Shapiro whose inquiry led QI to formulate this
question and perform this exploration. Special thanks to researchers
Peter Reitan and S. M. Colowick who identified valuable citations. In
addition, thanks to the contributors at Snopes and Wikipedia.
[End acknowledgment]

Feedback welcome
Garson O'Toole

On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 12:24 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Thanks for the excellent citation, Peter. Perhaps the full anecdote
> featuring the wrong-headed teacher had not entered circulation at that
> point.
> Below is a citation from November 1973 stating that Smith came up with
> the idea for Federal Express in 1969 after he had left Yale and after
> he had served in Vietnam.
> It was possible that the journalist's information was incomplete.
> Smith may have reactivated a dormant idea.
> Date: November 4, 1973
> Newspaper: Des Moines Sunday Register (The Des Moines Register)
> Newspaper Location: Des Moines, Iowa
> Article: Small package jet airline
> Author: Stephen M. Johnson (Register Staff Writer)
> Quote Page 10C
> Database: Newspapers.com
> [Begin excerpt]
> Smith has been flying since he was 15 and holds a commercial pilot's
> license himself. Alter he graduated from Yale in 1966 he entered the
> Marine Corps and did two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he flew more
> than 230 combat missions.
> When he left the service in 1969, he took over the operation of
> Arkansas Aviation, an ailing aircraft sales operation in Little Rock
> and brought about a dramatic reversal in the firm's profit picture.
> It was in 1969 that Smith also came up with the idea of an airline
> devoted exclusively to small-package shipment, and started research to
> explore the economic potential for such an undertaking. On the
> completion of the research, he created Federal Express Corp., which .
> . .
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> On Sun, May 15, 2016 at 11:25 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> From a UPI Story - in 1975.  In many papers - the earliest I found was The Daily Messenger (Canandaigua New York) March 6 1975, page 11.  This version does not mention his grade, and downplays how well developed his plan was while he was in school:
>> "He says he actually got the idea for Federal Express when he was a
>> student at Yale and did a paper in economics class on air transportation
>>  but it didn't crystallize until later. . . . ."
>>> Date: Sun, 15 May 2016 16:20:13 -0400
>>> From: adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
>>> Subject: Re: Sources for FedEx Anecdote
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>>> Subject:      Re: Sources for FedEx Anecdote
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> A researcher named S. M. Colowick responded to Fred on a different
>>> mailing list by giving a great snippet match in Esquire.
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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