"I am really not sure if I am addressing this letter to the correct person," began Carolyn A. Moore, librarian of Pond Creek-Hunter High School in Pond Creek, Okla. "If I am not, would you please send it on to the proper person?"
What Moore went on to say was that her school's copy of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, "one of the most checked-out magazines to which we subscribe," kept falling apart. "It does not stand up under all this 'loving attention,' " she wrote. "I think if you could possibly consider using three staples per copy instead of two.... All the other magazines that we receive are put together with at least three staples, and they seem to withstand usage much better."
Her letter made its way to Managing Editor Gil Rogin, who passed it on to Assistant Managing Editor Mark Mulvoy. "I dare say that in all my years with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, your letter ranks as the most curious to cross my desk," Mulvoy wrote Moore, going on to explain that SI is printed and bound in five plants across the country. "Three of the plants bind the magazine with three staples, two bind it with two staples. Your magazine is printed and bound at a plant in Chicago, which happens [with Los Angeles] to be a two-staple plant.... Now that we have a complaint we are examining the entire matter of staples." The result: All five plants now bind the magazine with three staples.
Last month Moore was able to reply, "Aha! The little voice on the prairie was heard! When I took my original letter to my school's principal for permission to mail, the principal and the football coach, Lyle Welsh, both laughed at me. But our April 12 issue arrived with THREE staples, and you can just bet that when I received your letter I immediately showed it to both our school's 'Doubting Thomases.' "
"I am not a complainer," Moore said last week. "The only other time I wrote to somebody was when I complained to Sears a couple of years ago that the store in nearby Enid was going to discontinue my brand of support hose. A man called from New York to tell me I could still order my hose, and now I buy three dozen pairs at a time, I feel so guilty." She felt just about as guilty when SI photographer Heinz Kluetmeier showed up in Pond Creek to take her picture. "A couple of teachers said he was in town to literally shoot me for all the fuss I've created," she said.
Fact is, we couldn't be more pleased that Moore is pleased. For years she has variously restapled, pasted, paper-clipped, taped (with fiber tape along the inside seam and three-inch plastic tape along the outside of the binding) and tied together the school's lone copy of SI. "Even the fact that the swimsuit issue mysteriously got lost every year and I had to go out and buy another didn't bother me as much," she said.
Perhaps as satisfying to Moore is the fact that the principal who laughed at her for writing happens to be her husband, Max. "Of all the people to be in SI!" she said. "Max coached the Class B state champion football and girls' basketball teams at Braman High in the early seventies, and my daughter Cindy swims and was on the track and basketball teams. Me? I read good books."