Transcription with slight edits for grammar:
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive your kind package containing a number of freethought books. It is also important for you to know how extremely valuable your service to people in my situation, for currently you represent the only source of distribution for such material. And for that you deserve much praise. You most certainly have found a gaping niche and are filling it admirably.
As a point of amusement you will no doubt be interested to learn that when I was called to the mail-room to take delivery of the above, the officer, upon examining some of the titles, immediately sought the chaplain’s opinion. And, although the look of disdain on his face spoke volumes, he nevertheless was obligated to allow me possession of the entire parcel. He now ignores me in the hallways!
I sincerely hope that you will continue to provide assistance to folks such as myself for many years to come, for I am keenly aware of its significance. Therefore, here’s wishing you much further success. And again, thank you for your kindness, generosity, and prompt attention to my letter.
Thanks so much so much for the books you sent. Please note that they all arrived in good order and without unusual delay.
As a native Peorian, I was especially delighted to find the biography of Robert Ingersoll. In Peoria’s Glen Oak Park, at the bottom of a sharp and circuitous road, is a secluded little court just off the park’s egress. In the center of this quiet place stands the monument to Ingersoll pictured in American Infidel. I recall many winters when the snows would close this road to motorized traffic and adventuresome sledders would try its serpentine slope. Those of us who didn’t wipe out on the road’s low embankment or fly off into the trees beyond would end our rides in the shadow of Ingersoll’s likeness.
At that time I had no idea who Robert J. Ingersoll was, nor, I am certain, did any of my companions. Of course he was not taught in school. This can probably be attributed more to the unfortunate fact that none of our colorful local history was taught than that an icon of American Freethought in the area was one of Peoria’s dirty little secrets.
In the thirty or so years since skidding to a powdery halt at his feet, I have learned a little about Robert J. Ingersoll and even read a few of his lectures and essays. Now, with American Infidel, I can make a deeper connection with this great man, and with my own heritage as a Peorian, an American, and a human being of liberated reason.
Again, my thanks go out to you and your sponsors for these good books. Keep up the important work. Much joy to you and yours this holiday season.
Share what the Freethought Books Project means to you. Send us a letter at:
Freethought Books Project
Center for Inquiry
PO Box 741
Amherst, NY 14226