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 have often thought of all the fun I had writing to the pen pals that were listed in the Monitor when I was in grade school.
I wrote to five different girls in other countries. Would you believe how interesting geography and history became to me – and how much I improved my grades?
Joyce lived in Australia and wrote about the sheep her family cared for and the beautiful hillsides near her. I lived in New Bedford, Mass., in a tenement house, where we had a waterfront view of a bay. It was interesting writing about such a comparison.
What fun and joy to learn about other countries and friends.
How fun it was to read the essay about Mail Bag pen pals. I immediately looked in a box of old photos and found two pictures sent to me by Tikako Koyama. I believe we wrote each other for about four years.
When I wrote her that I was accepted to college, she asked me what I would like as a gift. I knew that her father was a dollmaker, and I boldly asked for a doll! I have it still and treasure it.
The two pictures I have of her show her in her school uniform as well as in her kimono. I remember that we talked about school and the kinds of things we liked to do. My cousin collected stamps, and I sent the stamps from Japan to him.
My mother and I were visiting my sister and her Norwegian husband north of Oslo when we decided to venture into exciting "unknown" areas of Europe. We arranged a train journey from Stockholm to Basel, Switzerland.
Naturally, I let Hannah know when the train would be at Hamburg – the nearest city to her home – for a short stop.
It was about 7 p.m. when we pulled into Hamburg. Hannah and I had exchanged snapshots so each of us knew what the other looked like, but in the mass of people, we missed each other. It was quite a disappointment.
Roll ahead several years. My husband and I had been in Europe for five months. The ship for our return to the US was leaving from Hamburg. This time, we connected with Hannah and had a wonderful evening the night before we sailed.
A few years more, and Hannah arrived in Boston to train for a new career. At that time, we were living on Long Island, N.Y., so she came to visit us on a long holiday weekend. She paid us another visit when we lived in a Chicago suburb.
For many more years we corresponded, but our last meeting was at our home in Braunschweig, Germany, in 1973. Hannah was in the Hamburg area and came to see us during vacation. What a wealth of great memories we reviewed together and what a fulfilled pen-pal experience it was for us both.
Patricia H. Gombert
• Send your Mail Bag story to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Mail Bag – Home Forum, The Christian Science Monitor, 210 Massachusetts Ave., P02-30, Boston, MA 02115.