Monday, May 18, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: An unsent letter?

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

My grandfather, Martin Deutsch, working for the Chicago Post Office, accepted the promotion to Postal Ispector in the St. Louis Division in June of 1933. However, the division covered a large amount of territory, and I believe he was in Fort Smith, Arkansas for a year.

The below letter was written in June of 1934 to the Inspector-in-Charge of the St. Louis Post Office. It accepts a transfer to the St. Louis headquarters, and requests a name change.

I don't believe this version of the letter was actually sent, as it doesn't appear in his Official Personnel Folder. It only appeared in my grandfather's personal records. If it was sent, his request to change the spelling of his name was denied. (And I don't know why such a request if desired would be denied, so it seems logical it was never actually sent.) However, it suggests my grandfather, at least at that point in his life, thought his last name was pronounced a little differently than I was taught. (Research indicates he thought it was pronounced in the traditional German fashion, almost sounding like "ditch" and I have always heard it pronounced in the Austrian fashion, rhyming with 'boy'.)

M.J. Deutsch
Inspector Fort Smith, Arkansas, June 8, 1934

Mr. W.L. Noah,
Inspector in Charge,
Saint Louis, Missouri.

This is in response to your communication of the 5th of this month, relative to my possible transfer to Saint Louis. I believe that I would like such an assignment, and a transfer to headquarters would be satisfactory to me.

At this time, I would like to submit a request which I have been considering for some time, but for which I have not found the opportunity until now. I have at various times thought of changing the spelling in my surname, which, although pronounced as it would be if spelled “Dyche”, has a number of superfluous letters. It has caused embarrassment and confusion at different times and is quite a handicap particularly on this job in which much traveling is done and new people are very frequently met. I would like to request permission to change the spelling in my surname, spelling it the way it is pronounced, in the manner noted, “Dyche”. I am making this request at this time so that it may be made effective at the time of my transfer to another domicile, at which time it would cause the least confusion.

I realize that the change requested will cause confusion in the records for awhile, but I believe that this will be righted in a short time, and it will be advantageous as time goes on. In the event that the request is granted, a change will be necessary in my traveling commission and this feature should receive consideration. Your approval and favorable recommendation in this matter will be appreciated.

Post Office Inspector

There is a country music lyric, written by Garth Brooks: "Some of G-d's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." I think the same may go for unsent letters.

There is also the possibility that the letter was meant to be humorous. I don't understand the reference to his 'traveling commission' needing to be changed, but in context, it sounds like it might have been an inside joke.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

No comments: