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 is an excerpt from one of your responses.
In the late 1950s, when I was in elementary school in Lawton, Okla., my mother read about the Mail Bag program in the Monitor. I ended up with two pen pals.
The first was a woman in the Philippines, who wrote that she lived separated from the rest of the community because she had what my parents and I surmised was leprosy. My heart was filled with compassion for her, but writing back felt beyond anything I had ever had to handle. I finally wrote to her about my school, what I did after school, and about my Sunday School classes. She told me about the kindness of the people where she lived. We corresponded for about a year.
My second pen pal was a boy about my age who lived in England. He once wrote a vivid explanation of Guy Fawkes Day, which he sent in reply to my narrative about Halloween in our country. He was a great soccer and cricket enthusiast, and his letters were full of his athletic activities.
I was very shy, and his letters, along with a blue cloisonné compact he sent me as a Christmas gift one year, gave me needed confidence. We corresponded for five or six years.
I learned a great deal about life from my two pen pals. From the first, I learned that even small acts of kindness can mean a great deal to someone living in isolation.
From the second, I learned that even when you don't have much in common with someone, you can still become good friends, particularly when you're willing to learn something new.
El Paso, Texas