They exchanged Christmas cards?
--Louis Schlamowitz, Muammar Gaddafi's 'Pen Pal', Is A Jewish New York Florist
A Jewish New York florist had an unlikely pen pal: former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Louis Schlamowitz has been exchanging correspondence with Gaddafi since the now-slain dictator took power of Libya in 1969. The two had exchanged letters, Christmas cards and thoughts about the state of Israel until 1988, according to the New York Post.
Schlamowitz received several signed pictures of Gaddafi to add to his "Middle East collection" of autographs, a hobby he prides himself in. The 81-year-old Brooklyn resident currently has a binder filled with 6,000 autographs from people as various as Yasser Arafat, Marilyn Monroe and Barack Obama, the New York Times reports.
Schlamowitz ended his nearly 20-year "pen pal" relationship with Gaddafi after the 1988 Pan Am bombing .
"[Gaddafi] committed crimes against humanity. I didn't want to get mixed up with him or his organization, so I backed out," he told the New York Post.
Schlamowitz has even been investigated by the CIA for his correspondence with world leaders, but the agency deemed the communication a hobby. The widower told the New York Times he doesn't write "heartfelt" notes to his "pen pals," but that he does congratulate some for their achievements.
"I wish people well, but I don't have to agree with them," he told the Times. "I'm not in politics. I do it as a hobby."
Schlamowitz sent one more letter to Gaddafi in March, but the correspondence was sent back unopened, the New York Post reports.
Gaddafi was killed in Libya on Oct. 20.
"He was a good pen pal," Schlamowitz told The Brooklyn Paper. "[Gaddafi] didn't have to reply back to me, but he did."
Schlamowitz said he wasn't saddened by news of Gaddafi's death; he even made room in his binder for Libya's future leader, The Brooklyn Paper reports.