September 10, 1954
I would like to be your pen pal. I'm in fifth grade at Bustlebout Grammar School. My teacher, Miz Loggins, wants everybody in our class to have a pen pal so we can learn to write better. I want a pen pal cause I like to know things. I like to know people too. Miz Loggins got the pen pal names out of one of her teacher's aid books.
I picked your name cause you sound like a nice person and you live in Tarzana, California, and that's not far from Burbank. I wanna move to Burbank and work for Walt Disney when I get out of high school. I watch Walt Disney on television, and I love it when he shows how they make animated movies. That's what I want to do. Miz Seagrest, my art teacher at school, says I should be an art teacher, but I don't know if I could stand being around a bunch of noisy kids every day.
My friend Elmer Four says math and science are where the real adventure is. He thinks people will be walking on the moon by the time we're grown. I'll believe it when I see it, but I'll never see it cause I ain't setting foot off this earth. I like Elmer Four, but I think he reads way too much science fiction.
I live in Bustlebout not far from New Orleans, Louisiana. My Uncle Pat lives there. Last summer I went to visit Uncle Pat and Aunt Margaret. Jay Mikey went too. It would have gone better without him, but that's life. We went to Pontchartrain Beach and rode the Zepher, and Jay Mikey kept screaming and nearly scared me to death. I'm sending you a snapshot of the Zepher that Uncle Pat took. Did you ever ride on a roller coaster? I don't think it's as much fun as some people say it is. I barfed when I got off of it. Yuck!
I hope you had a better summer vacation than me, and I hope you will be my pen pal. It'll be awfully embarrassing if I can't get a pen pal.
Jenny Maybelle Gillory
September 17, 1954
Dear Jenny Maybelle,
I'd like to be your pen pal. I'm in fifth grade, too, and I'm ten years old. You sound cute. Yes, I rode on a roller coaster, too, but my summer wasn't so good either. I got very dizzy on that roller coaster, but I didn't puke cause Mom made me ride it early before I ate too much. My mom is a health nut who wants us to eat mostly fruits and veggies, but I eat hotdogs and fries and tacos when I go places with my dad and sister and brother.
My mom is sort of an all-around nut, but she's nice. She wants to be an actress but is mostly just an extra. She was part of a stampeding crowd in a stadium in one movie, but we couldn't see her. In another movie, she was an unemployed person standing in a soup line. We could see the back of her head in that movie. Then she was a shopper running from a giant monster. She said that was her big break because the movie actually showed a closeup of her face as she screamed.
Maybe it was her big break. In her next movie, she had one line. She was a waitress in a diner and said, “We don't have any apple pie, but we have pineapple.” She practiced that line over and over and over for two weeks until I nearly went crazy. Now I hear it in my head all the time, and the movie hasn't even come out yet. When I die, my last words will be, “We don't have any apple pie, but we have pineapple.” I hope my mom's big scene doesn't get cut out of that movie, after all the suffering I had to go through for it.
My dad is a carpenter who builds sets at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. He also plays trumpet in a band called Coyote. They play mostly Mexican songs at weddings and fiestas. My mom and dad scream a lot about that band. She says he spends too much time with the band, and he does. That's one thing she is right about.
I have a little brother, and I like to babysit with him. He is four years old and no trouble at all unless he gets in one of his “more ice cream” moods. His name is Rico.
My sister is fourteen and thinks she knows everything. Her name is Bambi, but she is no Bambi. She's a witch. She's the one who made my summer miserable.
What I really want to do is be a social worker or a psychiatrist or some other kind of counselor. I'll tell people how to behave and how to treat others. Not many people know how to do that, specially my sister Bambi. I'll tell you more about her later – if you like horror stories.
Later, Laurie Rodriguez
I'm lookin' for my other pen pal letters. My awful brother Jay Mikey hid them. When I find them, I'm gonna put them here in my pen pal book - and I'm gonna clobber Jay Mikey!