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 used to read the Children's Page in the Monitor every week. I discovered that I could have a pen pal if I just wrote a letter to the Mail Bag column, and so I did. One of the girls who responded was Margaret Orr from Union City, N.J., and we are still corresponding nearly 70 years later!
I shall never forget my visit to Margaret's. It was totally different from my home on the farm, but it was filled with love. I especially remember the clothesline. It was attached at both ends to a pulley and was suspended above the backyard. Margaret's mother leaned out a window to hang the laundry and then pushed each piece on the line to make room for the next.
One of our most memorable meetings was several years ago when we met up to attend an Elderhostel event at Hyde Park, N.Y. There are so many special memories of our friendship. I am so glad the Monitor made it possible.
Jane Hanke Shea
In 1939, when I was a seventh-grade student, I saw a letter in the Mail Bag for someone named Jane. Her life was so different from mine – I was completely fascinated.
This girl, roughly the same age as I, lived on a farm, was an only child, owned a pet dog, and had a pond on the farm with a boat she could row across the water. I was the middle child in my family and lived in an apartment in a populous city. We were not permitted to have a cat or a dog in the apartment.
I answered her immediately, and we have been dear friends to this day. When we were about 19 years old, we joyfully met in person when I spent a week with Jane and her family on their farm and also was treated to sights in nearby St. Louis. A year or two later, Jane spent a week with me and my family in our apartment in New Jersey, and she was able to see sights in New York City and also get her first view of an ocean.
Since then, we have seen each other only three or four times, but we have shared so much of our lives with each other. We faithfully wrote of our experiences, courtships, marriages, families, joys, and sorrows. Ours has been a lifelong, very special relationship, all made possible because of a letter to the Mail Bag.
Margaret Orr Coeyman
Glen Ridge, N.J.