Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US. Today is also, however, the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 44 years ago. As a child, my mother said that Kennedy was my favorite TV star with the Nixon-Kennedy debates an early favorite show.
Kennedy was the young peoples' president and writer Bill Adler picked up on that early on. His book, KIDS' LETTERS TO PRESIDENT KENNEDY, came out in 1961 and featured a potpourri of actual old fashioned snail mail letters from kids to their new leader. The book is disarmingly cute in the beginning as it presents page after page of letters requesting autographs, pictures or visits. There's a section of folks offereing JFK kittens and puppies, too. Toward the end, however, the tone changes and there are a number of missives about war and the Russians and bombs.
Although the book itself offers no responses from the president, it notes that Kennedy instructed his mailroom clerks to make sure that out of the thousands recieved, he personally saw every fiftieth letter daily.
For his part, compiler Adler made a career out of the concept, packaging kids' letters from camp and to other celebs including Santa Claus. Many of these, like the Kennedy book, actually hit the bestseller lists! More recently, credited to Bill Adler Jr, there was a collection of letters to Harry Potter.