More Mail Bag matches

Readers relate experiences with the Monitor's old pen-pal column.

We asked readers to tell us about pen pals they found through the Monitor's Mail Bag column, which ran from 1929 to 1969. Here are some excerpts from a few of your responses:

I grew up in Berlin, Germany. Shortly after World War II, I discovered the Monitor's "Mail Bag." I soon had several pen pals in a number of countries.

One of my new friends, Kathleen, lived in Vancouver, Wash. We were both university students studying music. We were also Christian Scientists and wrote about our branch churches. Our church in Berlin had just gotten under way again after it had been forbidden during the Nazi years.

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Soon Kathleen's brother and parents found a college in their area that was willing to offer me a scholarship. So in April 1948, I came to the United States. I lived with Kathleen's family until I moved on campus. After a few years, however, we lost track of each other.

In 2006, I was at a meeting in another part of the country when a woman introduced herself to me. It was Kathleen. Since then, we have had a lot of catching up to do via e-mail. It's a small world because of efforts like the Monitor Mail Bag.

Arno Preller

Vancouver, Wash.

My Mail Bag correspondence began when the pen-pal idea was first announced and included girls from the Netherlands, England, Australia, Wisconsin, and Hamburg, Germany. I corresponded with them all at the same time and eagerly waited for the mailman each day.

Leonore from The Hague married, and, in 1950, her husband went to work for the American Embassy. I visited Janette twice in Oshkosh, Wis., and she came to see me twice in Massachusetts. We stayed in touch until 1983. My contact with Barbara in Melbourne was brief, from 1928 to 1933.

Eileen in Bolton, England, was a schoolteacher. We met through the pen-pal column in 1933 and continued to stay in touch occasionally until 1958. Anne Marie in Hamburg was the friend I wrote to most frequently from 1928 until 1949. We both played the violin.

After World War II, my mother and I sent 24 packages to my pen pals in the countries where necessities had been depleted.

I have kept all the letters I received. Having friends in various parts of the world was an enriching experience for me. What better way to foster mutual respect and understanding among nations than to begin with individuals.

Barbara C. Smith

Needham, Mass.

• Send your Mail Bag story to earth@csmonitor.com or to Mail Bag – Home Forum, The Christian Science Monitor, 210 Massachusetts Ave., P02-30, Boston, MA 02115.

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