Friday, July 8, 2011

Pen Pals! :-) By Cecelia Dowdy

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

by Cecelia Dowdy

Does the title of this blog post bring back memories? Have you ever had pen pals? If so, do you remember their names and where they were from? How long did the writing relationship last?

Pen pals is a somehwat "archaic" term. The reason I say this is because with the advancement of the internet, I don't think people write letters to one another anymore using pen, ink, envelope and stamp. When I was growing up, I believe my fascination with pen pals was one of the indications that I'd become a writer when I got older.

I recall reading the Archie Comic books and there was a list of people from which to choose pen pals listed in the book. Also, you could send in money to the comic book people and they'd mail you the address for a pen pal. I recall taping approximately 75 cents onto the order form and mailing it out to the comic book people. In return, I received pen pals.

I recall two of my pen pals quite well. One was named Karen G. (I won't reveal the last name, but I remember it.) and she lived in Jacksonville, Florida. The other one was named Tammy K. and she lived in...Maine, Montana, Massachusetts? I only recall that Tammy's home state started with a M. I exchanged pictures with both of them. Karen had short curly dark hair and Tammy had long brown straight hair. Sometimes, we'd exchange gifts. Tammy sent me a necklace once and it had a pendant in the shape of a chocolate ice cream cone! :-)

I wrote to these girls for about a year or so? Then, the relationship just tapered off to nothing. The letters stopped suddenly and when I wrote, I finally received no response from either of them. I wonder where these ladies are today and if they even remember writing to me back in the seventies.

So, have you ever had pen pals? If so, do you remember their names and where they were from? How long did the writing relationship last?

Don't forget to leave a comment!

~Cecelia Dowdy~


Jodi said...

I've had many pen pals over the years when I was young and I remember most of their names and places they lived! Including South Africa, Africa, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, France, Greece, Germany, England, Wales and many States in the U.S.A. In fact, I still communicate by email or Facebook with a few of them! Others I am still trying to find to this day! The ones I keep in touch with now started writing when we were 10 years old from England, France and Germany. It's amazing to see how their lives have changed from one life stage to the next! It's so dear to my heart and I pray that one day I'll find more of them so we can reconnect. I hope to visit the ones I keep in touch with now. There are still a few magazines (and online sites) that offer pen pals the old fashioned way to this day though! I love communication through letters and I remember as a pen pal wanting different stationary, stickers and sending gifts through the mail for my pen pals. It's wonderful!

Cecelia said...

Jodi, so glad you commented! Your post made me remember more pen pal facts about myself! For example, I had a small box of white stationary with a floral (or some type of colorful) pattern! Later, after I used that up, I got this thick box of pink stationary and it was embossed with my name and address in dark blue letters. I had so much of it that I started doing designs on the stationary with my Spirograph! Anybody remember Spirograph? It's a toy that you use to make designs. There are different circles and pens and the circles fit into the crevices to one another - you put the pen in the hole and turn one circle outside/inside another. I recall making some designs on my pink stationary with the Spirograph. It was a bit rough though since the designs were kind of big to go on my little pieces of stationary! LOL!
~Cecelia Dowdy~

Cecelia said...

Jodi, I forgot to mention in my previous post that I'm tickled to discover that a few magazines and online places actually offer pen pals the old-fashioned way! Surprising in this day and age of the internet!
~Cecelia Dowdy~

Molly Noble Bull said...

I had a pen pal from England when I was a child. It was very exciting. Wish I knew where she was now or her married name, if she married.

Molly Noble Bull said...

How can we obtain pen pals this day in age? Inquiring minds want to know.

Cecelia said...

Hi, Molly
Jodi, the first commenter, mentioned that you can get pen pals, the old-fashioned way, nowadays. I can't contact her directly because her blogger profile doesn't display her email address and she doesn't appear to have a blog of her own? Jodi, if you're reading this, could you let Molly know how she can obtain pen pals nowadays? :-)
~Cecelia Dowdy~

Teresa Slack said...

I had a few pen pals growing up. Several were friends who moved away. Others my mother found in the paper. I currently have a pen pal thru Prison Fellowship with Chuck Colson. For those who don't know, Chuck was an adviser or somehting to Pres. Nixon and spent time in prison after Watergate. I have been pen pals with a particular prisoner since the 90's. We have written on and off for years. For the last several years i have seen a big change in this man spiritually that is very exciting and encouraging. You can google Prison Fellowship if you're interested for more info. Highly recommended for mature Christians who aren't looking for romance with a prisoner.

Cindy Willis said...

Cecelia, You may recall that I've had a pen pal, aka pen friend, who is really and truly like a sister to me -- Kerryanne from Australia. We don't quite have the exact date that we began writing to each other but are certain it's been 20+ ...years. Over 2 decades ago I found a postcard in a magazine with a former astronaut as the spokesperson for a program to link pen friends around the world. I filled it out, answered a few questions about whether I'd prefer a male or female pen friend, what part of the world, and the next step was to wait until I was matched with another person based on my responses. I believe I received the first letter, and the rest is history. Kerryanne & Ross visited us for the first time in August 2009, and they are coming back again this year to stay the last week in August. We are SO excited. She and I have shared so many things over the years, work woes, family news, hopes, dreams, troubles and celebrations. It was amazing to meet her and her husband and learn how much we have in common although we live on opposite ends of the globe! We email mostly, but still enjoy sharing good old fashioned pen and paper letters and cards. I also wrote to a young man in Myersdale, PA whose name was Mike P. when we were given a pen pal assignment for 9th grade English. It's funny how much I remember in the few letters we wrote, but he played the trumpet, lived on a dairy farm, and described how the valves on his trumpet froze when they marched in the annual Maple Syrup Festival parade in February or some other freezing month! I don't think we wrote for any more than 6 months or so.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

@Cindy - thanks for commenting. Yes, I recall your having a pen pal from Australia. I also remember that she came to visit you back in 2009. It's awesome that you've created a friendship that has spanned 20+ years!
I don't remember the other guy that you were pen pals with, though. Probably because you didn't write to him for very long...

Kym McNabney said...

I had a pen pal from Israel from the age of ten or eleven to fifteen. It was an awesome experience and because of that my ten year old now writes to a pen pal in a different state. I still have all the letters my pen pal sent me.

I’ve also been writing several guys in prison since 2004. It’s an amazing experience to mentor and spiritually guide each of them. They’re very dear to my heart, like one of my own children or a brother.

Cecelia said...

Kim, thanks for commenting. I think it's awesome that both you and Teresa reach out to prisoners! Also, it's great that you had a pen pal in another country for so many years!

Teresa Slack said...

Love reading these stories. Makes me want to go back and rekindle all those pen pals relationships that faltered after only a few letters. Great topic, Cecelia.

Kate Dolan said...

Wow, that sure does bring back memories. Most of my pen pals were people I'd met once who lived far away and we knew that if we saw each other again, it wouldn't be soon, so we wrote to keep in touch. I guess kids do that now with email or texting, but the comments are much shorter, so you don't much sense of the person or their life - just a quick snippet.

Donna Alice said...

What a cool post! I have had many, many pen pals in my life and actually still write letters (pen and ink) to many people. One of my first pen pals was named Vicki and she lived in New Zealand. My best friend, Kitty had found a pen pal and her best friend was named Vicki. We were both 12 and believe it or not - some 40 some years later, Vicki and I still write letters to each other! Not as many now - but at least a couple of times a year. Kitty and I are still best friends and since she moved out of state - we write long letters to each other.
I also have a couple of long distance pen pals I've picked up from different pen pal magazines over the years. There used to be these great magazines called "Women's Comfort" and "Woman's Household." You sent in a paragraph or two, maybe a picture and eventually they printed it. I met several friends who are still friends today.

Cecelia said...

@Teresa - Thanks! :-)
@Kate - I'd imagine, if the kids had a lot to say, they'd simply send an email, perhaps? I know I don't write many letters with pen and ink, unless I'm corresponding with an elderly person who's not hooked up to the Internet.
@Donna Alice - Really? How cool! It's amazing that you still keep in contact with pen pals from your childhood! Reminds me of my friend Cindy Willis (who commented earlier).

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Onesimus said...

I had several "pen pals" around the world and kept in regular contact.

I would always answer a letter as soon as I received a reply - otherwise I would forget.

Many times I wrote LONG letters - 40 pages or more of handwriting with an occasional sketch.

All of that ended when email became the main means of correspondence. Email is TOO immediate. It doesn't provide those days or weeks of pause between letters during which I could actually have a life to write about.

Replies could come back in minutes - and while this gave a brief sense of personal connection, almost as personal as a phone call - it wasn't practical to continue my habit of replying to correspondence as a soon as I received a reply. Therefore replies started to slip my mind, were overlooked and contact lost.

Thankfully I have been able to keep in contact with with one "pen pal" - I married her.


Cecelia said...

Tim, how sweet! Just like a romance novel! :-)
~Cecelia Dowdy~

Springfairy said...

Hi Cecelia,

I loved this post of yours. I remember looking for addresses in various magazines and had many penpals when I was in my teens. My first penpal was a the daughter of my English teacher. She and I wrote for about a year and then we got a chance to meet. She was like an older sister to me. But then we lost touch for many years and later I found her in facebook. Most of my penpals disappeared in course of time but one remained. Her name is Monique Raphel High and she is a writer. I was mesmerized by her novels that I was determined to find her address. At last I found her email address when I was 16 (after two long years of search). And when I wrote to her, she replied the next day! It was one of the happiest moments in my life. It's been 10 years and we are still friends! Although we have never met ( she's in California and I am in India), we are like a family. She knows me inside out and is the one who made me realize how much I love to write. I hope we meet in near future.

Cecelia said...

Spring Fairy, thanks for responding! I think it's awesome that you were able to find your old pen pals via the internet! I hope you'll be able to meet your pen pal who lives in California one day!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Cecelia Dowdy said...

One of my Australian blog readers shared the following link about two pen pals:
A Kid From Oregon And A Kid From Hawaii Become Pen Pals Via A Message Found In A Bottle

Ausjenny said...

Im so late here but I have had many penpal the first was Janette from Tasmania got her from a childrens magazine. then when I left school I joined an international pen pal group and wrote to quite afew from places like Finland, Germany (one stopped writing cos I wasn't thin enough for her) Her friend was so mad with her, Greece, Switzerland, France, USA, Canada, England and New Zealand. I still write to Sonja and actually met shes from Michigan and we have been writing since 81. We now email but send a letter once a year. I still write to Ann and Scorro. I also had some penpal from a cricket magazine and met quite a few of these and even stayed with a couple. A couple I still have contact with. I also got some from the Days of our Lives fan club. Lost contact with most of them.
I still have some of the letters and gifts from some of the penpals.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Jenny, thanks for commenting. One of your pen pals stopped writing to you because you weren't thin enough for her? Frightening! Sounds like she had a weight requirement for friendship! :-(

Never heard of Cricket magazine.

Days Of Our Lives fan club? Do you get the American soap operas over in Austrailia?

It's cool that you've written to so many pen pals in so many countries. It's also nice that you're still in contact with some of them.

Ausjenny said...

The penpal from Germany that stopped writing was a friend of a penpal, She wanted to write to an aussie and she was wanting to be a model. When she saw my photo she didn't like what she saw I wasn't thin enough or pretty enough for her. Her friend Gaby wrote to me and she was so mad with her friend (cant even remember her name now).
Cricket is a sport here that I love and in one of the magazines they had a pen friend list and I had quite a few from there. met 6 of these pen pals.
Yes we get some of the soaps here. Days, Y&R, Bold, and several others although I dont really watch any now. Stopped watching days many years ago. But in the 80's I was hooked.

pals24 said...

I had few penpals , they were awesome friends

Jose said...

I currently have an email penpal, and it's great! Communication is fluent, but we can still decide how frequently we want to communicate. I prefer snail mail though, but so far have not started such endeavor.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Hi, Jose

Thanks for commenting. Having an email penpal sounds great and convenient! Come join me on my Facebook page! We talk about all kinds of things over there: