More than 60 years ago, Acker Hanks sent a Christmas card to a friend as a joke. He didn't think it would turn into anything, but the card has since crossed the United States 64 times and serves as a reminder of a treasured friendship that began after he graduated from Sam Houston State University.
Hanks, an 89-year-old Whitehouse resident, finished college in 1949 and went on to work as a school teacher in New Waverly. A beginning teacher, he wanted to find friendship where he could, he said. He happened to find it in his neighbor Lee Kelley, who worked for the U.S. Forestry Service and was assigned to the Sam Houston National Forest in the New Waverly area.
"We were next-door neighbors and became very good friends," he said.
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Hanks mailed Lee a Christmas card in 1950, and Kelley mailed the card back to him in 1951. From that year on, the card changed places each year.
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