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    JOHNTJ1   73,479
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Pen Pals

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When I was 8 I had a pen pal in England. For the life of me I canít recall where he lived. I do remember that his name was Johnny. His mom had been my momís pen pal since the late 1930ís. I used to love to look at those special overseas air mail envelopes my mom would get in the mail. The stamps were exotic and you have to remember this was in the ancient times, long before Al Gore even thought about inventing the internet. I was fascinated by the pictures my momís pen pal would send. It was 1961 and Queen Elizabeth II was young and graceful. Momís pen pal would send her photos and post cards and I would sit and look at them for hours.

When mom thought I was old enough she told me I could start writing to her son. As I write I have to sit and laugh. I get fidgety today if I donít get an answer to my emails in 30 minutes. Johnnyís letters would take two to three weeks to reach me and mine to him. There were no great revelations just two eight year olds scrawling lines on a page and being so amazed and full of wonder when the distant postmarks reached them.

Iíll be honest I miss being a pen pal. Oh, I know Spark gives me an opportunity to know, love and communicate with people all over the world that I otherwise wouldnít know and yes I know we live in a world where high anxiety creeps across our souls every time we even think of divulging any personal information about ourselves. But going to the mail box or post office just isnít the same anymore. Thereís no sense of anticipation and Iím too old to look forward to the Victoriaís Secret catalogue.

Writing a letter requires planning, precision and attention to detail. Iím all for technology but there is still part of me that wants to wake up each day and wonder if a surprise will be waiting for me in the mail box.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
GARDENQE2 2/20/2013 11:52AM

    Good, thought-provoking blog, John!

It's so gratifying to get a real letter!

My family used to be great for writing letters. They wrote letters to the next town as well as overseas. My Mother kept them all, and after she died, I reread thousands of old letters from friends and relatives.

When I wrote the story of my life for my grandchildren a year ago, I used those letters for the basis. I began with love letters from my Daddy. There were chapters that were collections of letters... the two weeks I spent with my grandparents when I was first job away from home at age 17. The final chapter was a letter I wrote to my Aunt, after Daddy, her brother, died.

Now things have changed. I have cousins I email with several times a week. We exchange jokes and pictures of our grandchildren. But nothing is permanent. You can't take an email out and reread the cherished old penmanship. Soon there won't even be boxes of family snapshots. I miss those things. I think the younger generation is missing out as well.

Now that so many of my family have gone, I seldom get real letters. A birthday or Christmas card is a thrill. My project is to write letters in January. When the post-holiday blues strike, I write a letter every day to a friend or relative who could use a bright spot as well.

It's great to read that so many people continue to have pen pals. It reflects on the quality of Sparkpeople members!

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 2/19/2013 4:56AM

    And soon, no Saturday delivery...

Sigh... emoticon

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NASFKAB 2/14/2013 1:22PM

  thanks your blog brought back such wonderful memories I had a pen pal in Germany we sent gifts to each other its its about 55 years ago

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KT-NICHOLS-13 2/14/2013 12:00PM

    Reading this I flash back to when I was a young girl writing to my grandparents who lived 150 miles away from us. They used to take the letters to their luncheons after church and share with others. I miss that ... and them!

I still send out hand written cards as a surprise to people. Not long ago I sent one to a young woman (19 yrs old) and she called to tell me how special & loved she felt when she opened her mailbox and found my card. Handwritten thank you notes for gifts I receive are a must too and they have to have an actual stamp that I pick out.

Thanks for sharing this John. It made me smile and reflect.

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NEWMOM20121 2/14/2013 9:07AM

    Thank you for sharing. We forget that it was not so long ago we did not have instant gratification. Mail took time, there was only 3 tv stations (if you were lucky) and we all survived.

Love the story.

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REGILIEH 2/13/2013 7:25PM

    Cute story!!! emoticon

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NEEDBU66 2/13/2013 4:52PM

    Mail! Something else besides a bill. Wow!

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BLUEROSE73 2/13/2013 4:48PM

    When my bother passed away last fall, we found a letter in his belongings. It was addressed to me. A hand written letter. He told me how happy he was, and how much he missed me and my children. What inspired him to write it? Years before our fater had given us all pen sets for gifts. It has just dawned on him that the gift was a suggestion to maybe write once in a while. Dad had since passed away, and he lived close to mom and our other brother, so he wrote to me. Never did send it through. It was an incredible comfort to find it.

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LUCYJOY 2/13/2013 3:41PM

    We did a pen pal project in school and I continued writing mine for a long time. I still write my grandchildren hand written letters. I love getting mail, it's more fun than bills. (If you need pen pal, I'm available)

I think it's a shame kids miss out on the art of letter writing and snail mail. Sure, it's nice to get those instant messages but there's something about the anticipation of something fun in the mailbox.

Great blog-love the memories.

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VICKI-BISHOP56 2/13/2013 1:14PM

  I pen pal now. I have 14 pals I've written to for over 16 years. We're like family after so long. Would you be interested in pen palling John? Let me know. I can always use another good pen friend. emoticon

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CRYSTALJEM 2/13/2013 12:45PM

    Could not have said it better. I too remember waiting weeks for that cool overseas letter to arrive. My pen pal was from Japan and I never heard from her after there was an earthquake. I still wonder if something happened to her or if she just lost my address. I can't remember her name, but I can still see her face in the picture she sent me. The mail is not the same since personal correspondence has become so electronic. CJ

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CAT-IN-CJ 2/13/2013 12:28PM

    I too had a penpal when I was younger. She was also in England, somewhere.

Yes, we have lost a lot of the 'personal' touch with abbreviated emails and text messages.

Your post has inspired me to pick up the pen again.

When I retired last year, the first thing I did was to undertake the improvement of my handwriting, which had evolved into some sort of hen scratch that I could barely decipher. It took months, but I finally developed a clear , legible script. Not fancy, but readable.

Now it's time to put it to work!

Thank you!! emoticon

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CHRISTINASP 2/13/2013 12:17PM

    I hear you.

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CC3833 2/13/2013 11:41AM

    My best friend from the time I was 2-17 years old lived in Florida. I would see her once or twice a year when I went down to visit family. But when I was home we used to write letters to each other all the time. I loved getting letters from her and she would put little trinkets inside. It was exciting. Too bad that is all obsolete now :-(

Comment edited on: 2/13/2013 11:41:42 AM

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SHERIO5 2/13/2013 10:06AM

    Bringing back fond memories...

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ANATASHIKI 2/13/2013 9:31AM

    lol , I know what you mean , I used to have best friends who lived far away from me. I'm satisfied with the mails though. IF the other person isn't too lazy even for that

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BEATLETOT 2/13/2013 9:21AM

    I write a letter every day. I cover it in stickers, so it's extra-festive. If you PM me your address, I'll send you one!!!

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