Goodbye, John Hughes

Friday, August 07, 2009 - 05:55 PM

John Hughes, the director who brought us the '80s classics 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' 'The Breakfast Club,' and 'Sixteen Candles,' passed away yesterday. Hughes was the undisputed master of the teen movie: the high school scene he depicted over twenty years ago is still imitated, never equaled. Maybe that's because he was truly sympathetic to teens and their problems.

Of all the tributes popping up around the web this morning, this one caught my eye. Alison Byrne Fields began corresponding with Hughes as a teenager in 1985. Her first fan letter got her a signed form letter (unacceptable!) but when she wrote again and asked John to be her pen pal, he accepted.

'I'd be honored to be your pen pal. You must understand at times I won't be able to get back to you as quickly as I might want to. If you'll agree to be patient, I'll be your pen pal.'

They corresponded for two years. John wrote to Alison about his life on set and his family. Alison wrote to John about boy troubles and Mrs. Garstka, her hard-to-please English teacher. Hughes cheered her up:

'As for your English teacher…Do you like the way you write? Please yourself. I'm rather fond of writing. I actually regard it as fun. Do it frequently and see if you can't find the fun in it that I do.'

'I listen. Not to Hollywood. I listen to you. I make these movies for you. Really. No lie. There's a difference I think you understand.'

Thanks for making high school a little easier, John Hughes.

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