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.
It was in 1939 when my sister and I saw the letters in the Monitor's Mail Bag. I wrote to a child in Johannesburg, South Africa. My sister wrote to Joan Barton, who lived in St. Annes-on-Sea in England. That correspondence continued through World War II and led to more than 60 years of friendship.
During the war, my mother sent many "bundles to Britain" to the Bartons. I can remember Mother packing things such as butter, margarine, sugar, flour, soap, candies, cake mix, etc. These things were rationed in the United States and were scarce, but they were almost nonexistent in England.
After the war, my parents took a journey to visit with the Bartons. In 1947, my sister and I were each married the same year as Betty (Joan's older sister) and her husband. The families visited at least once a year after that, and later Betty's children, Joy and John, came to visit us. Later, Larry and Betty attended our daughter's wedding, and our daughter went to Joy's wedding.
My husband and I attended Larry and Betty's 40th wedding anniversary at Leeds Castle. It was a beautiful time, as it was our 40th wedding anniversary also. Most of these dear ones are now gone, but our lives were enriched by the Monitor's Mail Bag in many ways.
Carol K. Van Pelt
Red Bank, N.J.
In 1934, I received a letter from a girl in Mohawk, N.Y., in response to one I had mailed to the Mail Bag.
We were about the same age and had interests in common, so I wrote right back to her. This was the beginning of a long series of letters that grew into a friendship we have to this day. She and her husband still live in upstate New York, and we have visited them.
Through this pen pal, I was given names of two girls from England who were also Mail Bag correspondents. One girl wrote vivid accounts of the air raids that were happening all over England during the early 1940s.
In the 1960s,, she sent back to me a couple of the long letters I had written to her in the late '30s. I sat at my kitchen table transfixed as I read trivia I had long forgotten ... the day my brother first shaved, my first date with my husband, etc.
Nowadays, our contacts are usually by e-mail. I hope many others will discover the wonderful world of correspondence!
Shirley Billman Randall