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Friends for 50 Years
Rick Reilly
September 27, 2004
So what better way to toast SI's 50th anniversary than this: Call those original subscribers who've been with us for every issue. You know, find out what got them started, what kept them buying--the kind of killer reporting that gets you on Nightline.
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September 27, 2004

Friends For 50 Years

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So what better way to toast SI's 50th anniversary than this: Call those original subscribers who've been with us for every issue. You know, find out what got them started, what kept them buying--the kind of killer reporting that gets you on Nightline.

Turns out 381,458 people signed up for the first issue in 1954 and 7,668 are still subscribers today, not to mention 112 libraries and God knows how many dentists' offices. Do you realize how many of those annoying little cards they've had to throw away?

I started with Herb Helfrich, 75, of Las Vegas. "I really can't remember how I subscribed," he said. "No idea."

O.K., let's try Reverend Herbert Walther, 83, of Durham, N.C. "Don't make me go back that far," he said.

There was also a "Hell, I can't remember! I'm 91!" and a few "What? No! I already subscribe!" (Click.)

Oooh-kaaay, let's try this: favorite covers over the years? "Well, I really don't recall any favorites," said Dave Gowans of Redding, Calif. None? No covers out of 2,603? "I mean, I'm 82 years old."

(Sigh.)

"I would like to say one thing, though," Gowans said. "For 35 years now, I've used my own NFL ratings points system. I use it to pick games. And I consistently outperform Dr. Z. Will you tell him that?"

It'll make his day.

O.K., favorite writers over the years (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? "I actually don't even look at the names," says Claude Long, 87, of Greensboro, N.C. "Except when there's an article that's really bad, then I look to see who wrote it."

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