I was 15 years old, living on a farm in South Dakota, and totally in love with Erik and CHiPs. I entered a Tiger Beat magazine contest three different times in three different ways – I was so determined to win the prize, which was was an autographed copy of THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE, the first major motion picture Erik was in.
Three months went by, and I never got the book. In the mean-time, I’d gotten a letter from another young gal in South Dakota who offered to trade me all the posters and pictures she had for the signed book. I wrote her back and said I would prefer the book, which I still hadn’t received. On my mother’s suggestion, I wrote the magazine and explained that I had won the contest, but had never received the book. They wrote back and said the book had been shipped, and gave me the date and such.
Fast-forward about two decades. I’m married (Jeff and I were married for over 12 years) and Jeff liked to listen to the Mark and Brian radio program in the morning. One morning, Erik was the guest on the radio show. I vowed I would call the radio station as soon as I got to work (SAIF Corporation at the time) and tell Erik the story of how I won this book as a teen, but never received it. I got to work, turned my computer on, got my task list printed for the day, and went into the break room to call the radio show. My palms were sweaty and my heart was racing. And the break room was full of people having coffee and heating up their bagels, etc. I just couldn’t call Erik Estrada on a radio show with all of those people sitting there. I lost my courage.
So, that night, at home, I did a little research on the internet. I found an address for the radio show, and a possible address for Erik, and mailed off two letters the next day. A rep from the radio station called me a few days later and asked if it was okay to pass my letter along to Erik’s agent. Of course, I said yes.
Again, about three months passed before I got the mail with a big, thick envelope including a signed copy of Erik’s autobiography, MY ROAD FROM HARLEM TO HOLLYWOOD (which I’d already bought and read twice) and a copy of THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE. Included was a personal note saying that he and Nana (his wife) had looked for a copy of the original book with Pat Boone on the cover, but couldn’t find it. They mentioned Erik was touring with GREASE and would be in Portland that summer, and he’d love to meet us.
I booked five tickets to the show that same day, for me, my husband, and three step-sons. (It wasn’t a great show, by the way. Charo played the Principal with her coochie-coochie thing, and Erik was Vince Fontaine.) Wasn’t cheap, around $385 for the five tickets as I recall. But, I met Erik after the show, my ex-husband took the photos, and I was basically crying and shaking afterwards, even at the age of 33!
I’ve e-mailed with Erik and his wife, Nana, since – but not in a while now.
On Erik’s 63rd birthday, I thought this was a great time to share this story…and a reminder… Dreams do come true. Sometimes it can just take a while. 🙂