I liked to read the teen magazines and would buy them each month. They were generally about the popular recording artists of the day, artists like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. The teen magazines didn't feature the black recording artists at that time. I bought the magazine's for information about Elvis. I was still a huge Elvis fan, collecting his records and buying all the literature about him. I knew all of the Elvis trivia and facts and could spout it off like an encyclopedia.
That summer, as I was reading one of the teen magazine's, I noticed an ad for pen pals. I was writing to my girlfriends in California on a regular basis, but after thinking about it, I decided it might be fun to have a pen pal. So I sat down and wrote out a request for pen pals and sent the request to the magazine.
Several weeks later I began receiving letters from people I didn't know. Letters came and came and came. The mailman eventually brought me bags of mail. It took me weeks to go through it all and in the end I had received more than 500 letters.
I shared some of the letters with my friend Sarah and she decided to answer some of the letters I was unable to answer. I answered about a dozen letters and was unable to correspond to the others. I ended up getting pen pals in Australia, Germany, Japan and another in Daly City, California. I maintained the correspondence to most of them for at least three or four years.