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.
My mother corresponded with several pen pals from the Mail Bag starting in the early 1940s. One, from Washington State, put her in touch with another Mail Bag woman, Victoria, from Devon, England. During World War II, Mom and the Washington lady sent food and clothing to her in England. Victoria and her husband visited my folks in Oregon about 1950.
Mom corresponded with Victoria until she died, then corresponded with her daughter, and then with the grandson. Mom encouraged me to meet the grown grandson when I was in England last year. We did meet and spent a lovely day getting acquainted while seeing a village with thatched homes.
Another pen pal was Lia from Vienna. Mom had me meet her when a girlfriend and I were touring Europe in 1969. She taught us to make Wiener schnitzel, Gugelhupf, and apple strudel. She took us all around to see the Vienna sites. Then my parents and I met Lia several years later in Vienna. She spoke some English, and I spoke German. She took us all under her wing with her wonderful hospitality.
After all these years, Mom still corresponds regularly with various friends and relatives, although not with Mail Bag contacts any longer.
Lois Nobles and mom, Margaret Double
I had three great pen pals whom I "found" in the Monitor around 1946-49. I wrote to Netta Rae in Scotland, Ingrid Steiner in Germany, and Marlene Queiros in Manila. These wonderful young women opened the doors to a lifelong interest in world affairs. Most of our letters were exchanged over a period of about 10 years. However, one of my daughters was an exchange student in Manila and met Marlene, who also came to the US to visit.
Our family has hosted 12 international students over time, and six of my own children were exchange students in high school and college. Pen-pal and exchange programs need to continue! As one of my children said, "How can you drop bombs onto people that you know!"
Margaret W. Boyce