Following the death of “one of the world’s longest-serving dictators,” former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, on October 20, the New York Post has found one person, his 81-year-old pen pal Louis Schlamowitz, a retired Brooklyn florist, who is actually a bit bummed — not that he didn’t see it coming. The two had corresponded since the late ’60s, and Schlamowitz has a “pile of letters and autographed pictures,” though no song dedicated in his honor (after all, there is only one Condi Rice).
“He was a good pen pal,” said the lifelong Canarsie resident. “I felt it was very nice of him to take the time to write back to me, because I’m nobody special.”
Turns out, Schlamowitz is something of a serial political pen pal, with correspondances ranging from Harry Truman to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. The CIA started asking questions, but upon seeing his photo album, realized it was just a hobby, and left him alone, he says. Still, he himself cut Gaddafi off after learning of Libya’s role in the 1988 Pan Am bombing, but got in touch again about six months ago:
“I wanted to give him a lift, with all he was going through. So I wrote him a letter saying, ‘If you don’t take care of your people, your people will take care of you,'” he said.
Gaddafi never wrote back, and the rest is history — somewhat like letter writing itself. Alas, this story would hardly be the same if the two were just Facebook friends.
“But that’s politics,” said Schlamowitz, of Gaddafi’s death.