BUFFALO -- When Mark Twain wanted to send a manuscript to a friend whose address he didn't remember, he wrote the man's description on the envelope:
"For MR. C.M. UNDERHILL, who is in the coal business in one of those streets there, and is very respectably connected, both by marriage & general descent, and is a tall man & old but without any gray hair & used to be handsome. BUFFALO N.Y. From MARK TWAIN P.S. A little bald on the top of his head."
Somehow, the post office delivered it. And now Underhill's family has donated the letter to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
It will be displayed in the library's Mark Twain Room, along with the manuscript of Twain's best-known novel, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
Twain sent the letter in 1893 to Charles Underhill, a businessman the author had met while living in Buffalo from 1869 to 1871. The letter accompanied a manuscript of an early version of Twain's story "Diaries of Adam and Eve," which Underhill was publishing in a souvenir book about Niagara Falls.
Twain had forgotten Underhill's address by the time he got to Chicago and was ready to mail it, said William Loos, curator of the library's Rare Book Room and Mark Twain collection.
"So he invented the most amazing address on the envelope, and the post office found him," Loos said.
The full "address" went on the manuscript. A letter about it, mailed separately at the same time, carried similarly vague directions: "For MR. C.M. UNDERHILL (One of the best men there is, and tolerably moral & is running the coal business now, and very popular.) BUFFALO, N.Y. From MARK TWAIN."