Eddie Mahon looked twice at the letter which had just arrived. It carried the name of a US President - Jimmy Carter.
It was five or six weeks after he’d written to President Carter to congratulate him on his book about growing up in Plains, Georgia - “An Hour Before Daylight”.
Eddie says, “I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed it, and how much it reminded me of my own children days in Gleneely. I did it for its own value and didn’t think any more about it.”
The top right corner of the envelope carried a fascimile of Jimmy Carter’s signature with the legend ‘Postage and Fees Paid’. On the back was the address ‘One Copenhill, Atlanta, Georgia 30307’ - the address of the Carter Center.
“I said, oh my word, or something even shorter. But really I was just expecting to find a note inside from some secretary saying the President had enjoyed my letter and wished me happy holidays.
“I was amazed and delighted to find a photocopy of my letter and a personal message from Jimmy Carter on it.”
The handwritten message from the President read, “To Eddie: I’m glad you enjoyed the book. The similarities + differences are fascinating - Jimmy Carter.”
Eddie says, “It’s a wonderful letter to have and it’s going to have pride of place in the trophy room. More seriously, I am delighted and I’ll be getting it framed and put up on the wall in the house.”
President Carter will be 89 in October, and is now the President who’s lived longest after his term of office. He served as 39th President from 1977 to 1981. His popularity slumped during his time in the White House and he lost badly to Republican Ronald Reagan.
Eddie adds, “I’m hugely interested in American politics, sadly back to the time of Truman and Eisenhower. Jimmy Carter’s reputation has soared since he left the White House, thanks to all the work he has done around the world.”
President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, the only President ot get the prize after leaving office.
Eddie’s letter described the Carter book as “a terrific read enhanced by your recollections of happy youthful days which mirrored my own”. Remarking on the different crops in Georgia and Gleneely, Eddie added; “To misquote Churchill, two communities divided by uncommon vegetables!”