|Mamie Van Doren - one of the perfect beautiful women of the Fifties|
Back in my Previous Life, aka prehistoric times, I used to be a teenager. Yes, I too was once young.
Back in those teenage years I was one of many Lonely Teenagers of the Fifties. And being gay (known as 'queer' or 'homo' in the Eisenhower Fifties) I was doubly lonely. So where did I seek friendship? It was through pen pals.
I was a newspaper boy. I loved that job. I will have to write about my paperboy days in another blog. Every day after school I would pick up my 60 or so Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspapers for my paper route from the Same Charles News Agency in downtown Downingtown (a suburban town of 5,000 thirty-seven miles west of Philadelphia). I was 15 years old at the time. The year was 1957, right smack dab in the Oh So Conservative Fifties.
When I would pick up my allotment of Evening Bulletin newspapers I would also peruse the comic book and magazine display which was directly above where the newspapers were stacked. I was a comic book whore. I collected all the comic books. In fact, most of the money I earned as a paperboy was spent on either comic books, candy or developing black and white pictures that I took with my $5.00 Kodak Brownie camera. Yes sir ree, the Fifties were MY TIME. I LOVED IT!
One day I spied a new teenage magazine. It was called 'DIG.' I flipped through it and was immediately drawn to the pen pal section. Hey, here was something I could get into. I always liked writing plus I liked to receive mail. Hey, I would put my own ad in this magazine!
I read over the other ads and tried to get the wording just right so I would catch the attention of the maximum number of potential pen pals. I guess what I was hoping for was to find someone like myself. Much like I'm doing now with this blog. I was look for another me.
I got my wording down and sent in my ad. Then I anxiously awaited the publication of my ad. For the next three months I would buy the new issue of Dig only to see that my ad wasn't in the magazine. I remember how disappointed I was. But then it happened. The four month after I sent in my ad they published it!
Oh excitement! I still feel a rush of butterflies in my stomach to this day when I remember how thrilled I was when I saw my ad in print. In the next week the letters started to pour in. Wow! How exciting. I had my address as our family's post office box (P.O. Box 212, I still remember it to this day!)
When my family and friends found out that I was receiving letters from pen pals they either mocked me or asked "Why? Don't you have any real friends?" I remember very clearly my good friend Bill B. rarely missed a chance to make fun of me for having pen pals. That hurt. What really hurt was my great-aunt Grace asking my Mother "Why does Ronnie need pen pals? Doesn't he have any friends?" Well, actually I didn't have a whole lot of friends. I always worked after school. I was a paper boy from the time I was in the third grade. At one time I had three jobs after school:
- Paperboy - every night including Sunday morning
- Clean offices - every night
- Butcher market - I worked the front counter at the farmer's market on the weekends
|Just a Lonely Boy and his Cat 1958|
|Toshio Obo 1958|
|Nancyi Jo Stoker 1958|
|My last picture of Nancy - sent to me while I was in the Army|