More Mail Bag matches

Readers remember their 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 wrote to several pen pals, and we corresponded for quite a time, but the two most enduring friendships have followed from the Monitor Mail Bag and the Family Features page.

Vhibuti Sharma of India wrote to the Mail Bag during the 1960s, asking for pen pals who were librarians, as he was working at a college library. Since I was holding a library post in London at that time, I wrote, little knowing that within a year I would visit India and Pakistan and would meet Vibhuti in the Himalayas. His family and friends were so hospitable and helpful, and now I enjoy being in touch with him still – more than 40 years later – as well as with his wife and married son.

In the 1940s, the Monitor had "Jack Horner's Corner" on its Family Features page. Children were invited to submit their writing, and, if it was accepted for publication, the child was sent a book as a "plum" from Jack Horner's Pie. I was growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, and I wrote about my silkworms. Meanwhile, a 7-year-old girl who was living in Quincy, Mass., submitted her poem. Our work appeared in the same issue of the paper, and, as we shared the same first name, her mother suggested that she write to me.

That started a friendship that has endured, and, more than 60 years later, now includes her two daughters and grandchildren. Thanks to the Monitor for this golden friendship.

Brenda Riontino

St Petersburg, Fla.

When I was about 10 years old, I found Elsie D. in South Africa who was looking for a pen pal in the Monitor's Mail Bag section. I wrote to her and thus began what has become an 80-year friendship. I have been to South Africa three times, and she has come to visit me here in Colorado once.

When I think upon our years of friendship and time together, I realize that it has lasted through apartheid, two World Wars, and numerous other historical events. In our own lives, our friendship has lasted through marriages, the loss of both our husbands, and the births of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

In the latest letter that Elsie sent me, she commented that our friendship should be in the Guinness Book of World Records! I feel blessed to have found her through the Mail Bag, along with many other friends around the world that I communicated with via letters until I was able to travel to visit them.

Betty Govan

Estes Park, Colo.

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

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