Just after I launched the Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator in October 2004, I mailed out the 16-page Volume 1, Number 1 to relatives, friends, acquaintances and to people of consequence in the media. I had hoped that among those in the latter category, there might be some who would write about my latest venture and in doing so might help publicize and promote the publication.
A subscription solicitation box on the back cover offered the next four issues for $12 for “regular middle-class individuals in the U.S.” It would cost $16 for “companies and more affluent individuals in the U.S.,” and issues would be “free for those with limited income.” I received more requests for the latter “subscription,“ primarily from relatives, friends and acquaintances.
Soon after I received a business envelope with a CBS logo and address in the upper left-hand corner dated October 28, 2004 by U.S. Postage Meter #7112220. The cost then was 37¢. I knew that this could be a “lucky letter” since the meter contained the numbers “122” which was both my birth date (January 22) and the number I used when I raced sports cars in the 1960s.
My eye drifted back to the CBS corner and there in a steady pen and ink writing I saw the words “Andrew A. Rooney.” When I opened the envelope there was a two-paragraph letter, typed by Andrew himself and began “Dear Mr Gotliffe,” with no period after my designated title, and this was the letter that followed:
“I came close to pitching out your envelope containing The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator without looking at it. I get a ton of junk. I did look at it though, in part because The Practical Cogitator by Ferris Greenslet and Charles Curtis is my favorite book. You got me for half an hour – which is pretty good, considering my attention span. Where have you gone wrong in life – including leaving The Village (Ho-Ho-Kus) for Santa Cruz?
Although I don’t have confidence there will be four issues, am sending my Unlimited Income subscriber’s check for $16. Please dont (sic) send me a funny letter.
Andrew A. Rooney”
His hurried signature appeared to be “Andy Rooney” but I couldn’t say for sure.
To tell you the truth (as my wife prefaces some pronouncements), at the time I didn’t know if there would be four more issues either, however the latest issue was Volume 5, Number 1, the eighteenth.
Andrew A. Rooney was sent his four paid-for issues, and with each issue I duplicated his original letter and wrote a brief note while being extremely careful to respect his wishes and I refrained from writing anything funny on any of them. When his four-issue subscription expired, I solicited a renewal explaining, “according to my records this is the final one of the four in your subscription that you doubted would ever be published. I guarantee you four more with your subscription renewal.”
Andrew never responded to this one nor did I ever receive any more correspondence from him. That didn’t stop me from sending him every subsequent issue along with his original letter, and each contained a benign note written on it.
Among my verbal missiles through the years was one in September 2005 where I complimented him on a piece he did on Peter Jennings who had just died. When I sent him Volume 2, Number 4 in April 2008. I wrote “Ah ye of little faith, you have now received 8 ½ issues for the price of four. A funny letter would be acceptable.” In August 2009, along with Volume 4, Number 1, I wrote in green ink on his original letter “Issue Fourteen is enclosed, Andrew A. Rooney. Binders will soon be available to hold all issues. As you see on p. 12 — you are receiving it free — Best to you always.” The latter referred to the word “Free” on the back page that I had checked off for him in the subscription box.
On January 12, 2011, Volume 4, Number 4 was published and I sent it to him two days later along with what would be my last correspondence to him. “HAPPY 92 – Mr. Andrew A. Rooney. Consider your $16 sent more than six years ago a lifetime subscription, and here’s the seventeenth issue. Hope you will be receiving many more issues; after all I only turn 75 this month. Best to you.”
I never had the opportunity to send him the most recent printed issue and although he never responded to any mailings other than the first one, I would like to think that he read parts of some of them. I will always consider him my first and only lifetime subscriber. However, subscribers like subscriptions, have an expiration date and Andrew’s was November 4, 2011.
For free copies of the online version of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are the first to reply, we will send you the next issue of Andy’s lifetime printed version that “is published regularly on an irregular basis.”
A VW Convertible, an MGB Roadster, Sterling Hayden and I
We would like to tell you the story of two red convertibles parked side-by-side at a rest stop on the Connecticut Turnpike in 1964 and the chance meeting with actor Sterling Hayden. But that’s next time.