Thursday, February 3, 2011

More Great Moments in Letter Writing: James N Bailey

Previous great moments in letter writing have included the famous Pullman bedbug letter:
and the Sir Archibald Clark Kerr “It takes a Turk to do that” letter:

This time, let me bring to your attention another great moment dating from 1974. That was the year that one Dale O Cox, a principal of the Akron law firm Roetzel & Andress, sent a letter on his firm’s letterhead to the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Stadium. Cox, a Browns supporter, was disturbed by the practice of fans turning their programmes into paper aeroplanes and sailing them downwards, much as happens at the Sydney Entertainment Centre

(Click on the images to enlarge).

A few days later Mr Cox received a letter from James N Bailey, General Counsel for the Browns:

There has been speculation as to whether the letters are a hoax or legitimate, but legitimacy was established by Michael Heaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who contacted both persons in late 2010.

James Bailey is now aged 66 and lives in San Diego. He blames the letter on youthful indiscretion: “I was all of 28 years old when I wrote that letter. I should have been more cautious. I’m just glad my mother’s not around to see that letter.”

As noted at the bottom of the letter, Bailey copied in Arthur Modell, the team owner, on the sending of the letter. Bailey has revealed that he was chewed out for it.

Cox is aged 72 and still practises law in Idaho. He advised Heaton that he is still a Browns supporter and, rather than being offended by Bailey’s response, he has himself used the letter a number of times himself.


  1. He should have folded the original into a paper airplane before sticking it in the envelope.

  2. I love America...

  3. I have heard that Claude Pepper, a Senator from Florida, used the same line in a letter to a constituent back in the 40s. I think he used 'idiot' instead of 'asshole', but otherwise the same approach.

    Bob Houk

  4. I have also read your previous letter writing moment experience. Now I complete this reading about letter writing. Both are very interested and I request you to give another post with more information about goodbye letters to colleagues.

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