Starting Early

Ronald Reagan received the following letter in April 1984:

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Andy Smith. I am a seventh grade student at Irmo Middle School, in Irmo, South Carolina.

Today my mother declared my bedroom a disaster area. I would like to request federal funds to hire a crew to clean up my room. I am prepared to provide the initial funds if you will privide matching funds for this project.

I know you will be fair when you consider my request. I will be awaiting your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Andy Smith

Reagan replied, pointing out a technical problem: “The authority declaring the disaster is supposed to make the request. In this case your mother.” He recommended that Andy launch a volunteer program — and sent his congratulations.