WHITEHOUSE, Texas (AP) – A Christmas card that has crisscrossed the country as part of an old joke between two Texas men will rest this holiday for the first time in 61 years.
Acker Hanks said he mailed the card to his former neighbor and good friend Lee Kelley in 1950. Kelley, a prankster, mailed it back a year later.
“I probably didn’t even read what was on the card,” Hanks, 89, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph “We were constantly pulling jokes on one another.”
And so began a tradition that continued even after Kelley died; his widow loyally put the tattered message in the post for more than a decade. Last year, though, the card returned to Hanks unread. He believes Kelley’s widow, Rose Ann, has moved to a nursing home.
The worn card is decorated on the outside with a Christmas tree and a holiday message.
The inside has a list of years and places, documenting the card’s journey as it followed Kelley, who worked for the U.S. Forestry Service, from post to post.
Pennsylvania. New Hampshire. Washington, D.C.
All places Kelley lived, while Hanks remained in Texas.
Next to many of the dates and places are brief updates of what was going on in each man’s life.
About 15 years ago, Hanks and his wife, Bobbi, travelled to Wisconsin to visit the Kelleys. Two years later, his friend died.
Now the card will be framed, a memorial to a lifelong friendship.
“I always looked forward to getting the card,” Hanks said. “I don’t think it’ll ever leave me now.”
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