[Ads-l] Anecdote: The bedbug letter

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 9 18:10:02 EST 2017

Senator Miles Poindexter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Poindexter

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, March 9, 2017 2:52:58 PM
Subject: Re: Anecdote: The bedbug letter

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: Anecdote: The bedbug letter

A Quote Investigator entry about the "bedbug letter" is now available:

The Bedbug Letter

[Begin acknowledgement]
Special thanks to top researcher Bonnie Taylor-Blake who located the
earliest published instances of this tale. Additional thanks to
brilliant etymologist and communicator Michael Quinion for his
analysis at World Wide Words. Also, thanks to the people at Snopes for
their entry on this topic.
[End acknowledgement]


On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 1:11 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Back in 2010 I explored the "bedbug letter" anecdote and communicated
> with Bonnie about the topic offlist. Expert Jan Harold Brunvand
> included the story in the "Encyclopedia Of Urban Legends (Expanded)".
> The earliest instance I found appeared in multiple newspapers on June
> 12, 1913, e.g., the "Oshkosh Daily Northwestern" of Oshkosh,
> Wisconsin. Bonnie had already found this version of the anecdote.
> Below is an instance. Earlier evidence or pertinent citations would be
> welcome.
> [ref] 1913 June 12, The Duluth Herald, Statesmen, Real and Near by
> Fred C. Kelly, Quote Page 10, Column 6, Duluth Minnesota. (Old
> Fulton)[/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> Senator Miles Poindexter had occasion to stop at a leading hotel in a
> big Western city a time ago, and while there was unable to sleep
> because of certain vexatious conditions that existed with reference to
> his bed. He was obliged to toss about all night and act like a man
> with hives.
> When he got back to his office he wrote a scathing letter to the
> proprietor of the hotel. The proprietor wrote back a three-page letter
> done in the politest of phraseology. In which he thanked Poindexter
> for telling him.
> "Such a thing has never occurred before in this hotel," said the
> proprietor, "and we trust it never will occur again. We are deeply
> obligated to you for telling us, because if we did not know of such
> things the trouble might become greatly augmented. While we are
> astonished that the condition you mention could exist, we are thankful
> that you told us before any other guest is exposed to similar
> annoyance."
> Thus the letter went on. But the writer had unintentionally inclosed
> in the envelope a small scrap of yellow memorandum paper. On it was a
> line written evidently for the stenographer's eye and for no other. It
> said: "Write this man the bedbug letter."
> [End excerpt]
> Garson

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

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