About the same time I also took to writing pen pals. It all started with the kids' column in the Western Horseman magazine which had a pen pal section. I am still very best friends always with one girl I contacted through that source. She had a really neat sketch published and I wrote to her and the rest is history! Linda and I did not meet for many years but she and her husband and kids visited us while we lived in Olivehurst, north of Sacramento, CA when they were on the way to see kinfolk in southern California and then she spent a week or so with me at Huachuca City, between my retirement and Jim's death. We had a marvelous time. She and her hubby came by a year or two after Jim's death also and we had another good visit. Despite the few hours we have actually spent together, we feel like sisters and the friendship has lasted for over fifty years. Linda and Dick celebrated their fiftieth anniversary a couple of years back and I "knew" her before they met! Here is Linda and her little Maltese, Spencer, fairly recently. Somewhere I have her senior picture; I may post it and mine someday. Later, maybe!
Other pen pals did not enjoy such longvity, perhaps just as well. Besides having my name and address in Western Horseman, I also found a magazine called Ranch Romances--I kid you not, it was real and a pulp magazine that had fictional stories in the order of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour but always with a love story in them. Needless to say, I devoured them eagerly and vaguely ambitioned to try to sell them some of the tales I was writing by then. Never did but I did add myself to the pen pal column and wrote to a few girls and a lot of guys for a couple of years, a few even longer.
I guess the most lasting one was a guy I called "Jose Cazador" which was a kind of play on his name that included Hunter. He was a bit older, typical for me, and wrote fascinating letters in various colors of ink and usually scented with incense. We never met, but for a couple of years I fancied myself madly in love, He even sent me a half dozen red roses for Valentine's Day one year and my parents had kittens! (Tee hee--an expression of the day amongst teens.). Then very abruptly he said he had found someone else and vanished from my world. I was shattered and wrote a bunch of mostly bad poetry about it, both before and after! Here are a couple of verses that grew out of all that.
I moped for a bit over a year before another fellow burst into my life--or maybe I into his? Anyway, the first real love of my life was just around the corner although I did not know it yet. A virtual dust-storm I called Dusty was coming... Almost exactly a year after the second verse here. There are truly no coincidences!! BTW, I used Alegria as a nickname; it was a Spanish approximation of Gaye.
Letters (spring 63)
Dearest Alegria--the words dance before my eyes,
Flicker and fade. I see your hand, your pen.
You change pens and write in red;
My heart quickens and I read these words
With rapt attention, with my heart
As well as my eyes. Back to blue, your thoughts
Flow in fluid grace across the pages and
Into me to be dissolved in mine.
The words blur and fade before me and I
See your face, instead; your eyes are
Dark and deep and draw me to them.
Your beautiful eyes. Yes, they are your best
Feature and I think them beautiful.
I close my eyes to try to blot out that picture
But it lingers in my mind’s eyes, in my heart’s.
I can see your eyes in my sleep, yes, in dreams.
And when I am awake, they, with your spirit,
Surround me with an aura, a cloud.
Your face before me and your spirit around me.
Never am I free of you, but I do not want to be.
I open my eyes and read again. The scent
Of incense reminds me of the words:
“Mi Querida, Dearest Alegria, I wish I could say
‘Querida’ more plainly but I must wait.”
Yes, Mi Caballero, you must wait, but I wait too.
La Sombradera (9-11- 63)
The cruelest evil in all the world
Or so, at least, I say
Is one who violates innocent hearts
And then casts them away.
Bodies may lose the scars of abuse
But hearts cannot forget;
They too readily open, too freely give
And have a lifetime then to regret.
He who by words deceitful,
Captures an innocent heart
Deserves to be tortured by methods diverse
Until he is torn all apart.
The evil one who on innocence feeds,
Who makes youthful hearts his prey,
In time shall suffer each misery of hell
And for each tear of anguish repay.
For a heart that’s been ravished
Never more can regain
Its natal cleanness and naivety,
Its immunity to pain.
And its bearer then must suffer
All her weary lifetime through
And from the seeds that you planted
Reap the bitter fruit that grew.