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Pen Friends

(39 Posts)
Chewbacca Wed 11-Apr-18 09:49:40

Another poster has indirectly reminded me today of pen friends; I'd almost forgotten about mine. When I was a young girl I had a pen friend who lived in Limbang, Sarawak and we corresponded for several years. I can still remember the excitement of receiving the little pale blue Air Mail letters that were written in the most beautiful copper plate hand writing, so much better than my own scrawl. She told me so much of her life in a country that I had barely heard of and we exchanged small gifts at Christmas and birthdays - some of which I still have.
But then I became a teenager and it no longer seemed "cool" to write and I'm sad to say that we lost touch. I wonder how Stella is and how her life turned out.

Did you have a pen friend? Did you maintain contact and did you ever meet up?

henetha Wed 11-Apr-18 09:59:16

I still have a penfriend, and have had several throughout my life. Computers have taken over mostly, but my one penpal in America loves snail mail and so we have agreed to stick to that.
My first was an American boy called Wayne, - whatever happened to him I wonder. Then I had a Swedish pal for many years. And a lovely Canadian lady until she died. etc.
I have never met up with any of them, sadly.
There used to be a website called Fishing for Friends and that is where I met Shirley (My American pal) over ten years ago now.

NfkDumpling Wed 11-Apr-18 10:02:14

Never had a pen friend when I was young, but I do now have a Facebook friend. She lives in Australia and is the sister of my cousin’s deceased wife. We’ll never meet but it’s great to be included in her life and see how things work there. A new way of pen friending?

Welshwife Wed 11-Apr-18 10:05:11

I have a pen friend and we have been writing for 72 years. Started just after the war when her school in Australia had a collection and sent a food parcel to my school. I was given her name to write a thank you letter and we have continued ever since. Started by snail mail and then airmail and now email. She has visited me twice and I have been there once. When we were out in the bush one evening we were talking about how we got to write and she told me it was the children who contributed 10 shillings who had their name put in the parcel - her grandad gave her the money!
When we meet it is as if I only saw her yesterday and we probably know more of each others secrets than anyone else!
Her parents also came to stay with me a couple of times and also her daughters.

Teetime Wed 11-Apr-18 10:05:54

I didn't have a pen friend when I was young but have one through a Facebook book club. Sadly she suffers from OA as I do and her letters were undeciperable - we just use the Facebook page now so in that sense I have several friends mostly in USA.

Marydoll Wed 11-Apr-18 10:15:50

My pen friend was my best friend from secondary school, she was also one of my bridesmaids.
Whist studying in Seville she met her future husband, came back, finished her degree and moved to Spain to run the family bodega with him.
We corresponded for years and I too loved to receive the blue airmail letters.
I also loved the feel of the paper.
She suddenly stopped writing after 30 years, no reason given. I once saw her after she stopped writing, in our home town with her mother and was quite hurt that she obviously had moved on and our friendship was over.
I never knew what I had done. To be fair, we eventually had nothing in common.

Panache Wed 11-Apr-18 10:21:55

I wonder was it my earlier mention of having penfriends world wide Chewbacca that prompted your post, but nevertheless if it was or not,I am more than happy to oblige and share with you a few of my stories from those seemingly far off days!!!
I started with many around this country,several very productive girl pen friends that enjoyed a long and happy existence,but also especially I had a penchant for serving sailors at that time,so it was great fun having these replies from various areas of the world, and hearing a little about their culture and way of life.
There were a few delicate questions such as my chest size etc but on the whole all very innocent.
Some pen friendships went on for years and for some now forgotten reason, we gradually lost touch with one another.
Perhaps though the few penfrienships I made in this country and actually met with, will make more interesting reading!!
Though not much to tell really.
One I recall was from the uni in Cardiff,and although he came over as very highbrow, we managed to rub along for a while and then came the inevitable request to meet up.
I remember it well,how I had my hair done and I donned nice clothes suitable hopefully for this city meet.
He was nice and gentlemanly,not exactly a "looker" and yes very intellectual, which made me feel a bit uneasy!!
We enjoyed a day of strolling around a few of the sights and then decided to go for a row on the nearby lake.............only just saving ourselves from flipping over board!
That certainly served to "break the ice!!"
Then it was time to return to his digs and I was getting increasingly nervous.I wanted no extras but was far too young and naive to actually express myself.However a big sigh of relief when I found I had my own bedroom and the first job was to place a chair under the door knob... as I certainly wished for no nocturnal visits!!
He seemed quite happy with the arrangement so we were both much more relaxed the following day.
That next day he drove me to the next big town and that drive,both there and back truly put the wind up up me as I had never been driven at such a helter skelter rate, and never met so many lines of fast moving traffic before (coming from the heart of a slow moving farming countryside)............and quite frankly that ended the short friendship for me...........and I think he too sighed a huge sigh of relief!!
Another time this other male penfriend chose to travel to meet me in my own home town, and as I entered the station catching my first glimpse ......I took to my heels and scarpered ......never again hearing from him, and in fact it put paid to any further "meets"

Having letters with all the varied news was one thing,a real delight,but actually meeting up is quite another.
Yes, it could just as well have been successful and I could have met the love of my life ...............but that remains just perhaps wishful thinking!
And yes............there were many more penfriends but I think I shall leave the space for others to fill with their stories!

KatyK Wed 11-Apr-18 10:28:15

Reading this, I've just remembered I had a pen friend. I learnt German at school and they arrranged for us all to have a pen friend in Germany. I used to love writing to her and receiving letters back. It was so long ago now, I can't remember her name or what part of Germany she was in. We never met.

NanaandGrampy Wed 11-Apr-18 11:19:43

I still have a penfriend .

He was a client of a company I worked for in the 1990's . His English is good ( which is lucky because my Flemish is not !!) .

So we have been penfriends for over 28? years. We met once about 20 years ago just for a day and found we still liked each other enough to be penfriends so have carried on.

Every year without fail he sends me a handmade Belgian chocolate Easter Egg and a huge box of chocolate s on my birthday. He travels extensively to bizarre and exotic far off place and always sends me a gift.

Some of them have included |: 13 metres of hand made batik cloth , a wooden cat with a 3ft perpendicular tale from new Guinea ( the postman struggled with that one !!) Sand from the Sahara, Indian face paints , a stamp of my name in Chinese .... the list goes on .

My husband is perplexed that we find anything to write about as we are so different.

I wish we had kept all our letters to each other it would have made quite a pile by now.

JackyB Wed 11-Apr-18 12:15:55

I wrote for years to a girl who I had been friends with at primary school; she moved to Kent when we were about 7. The correspondence carried on until puberty, but fizzled out when we were about 14.

We were encouraged to write to our partners who we exchanged with in our twin town in France. I lost contact with mine, but I remembered her name, and that she had moved and become a midwife. I googled her name and the town and "sage-femme" and it appears that she is still there and still has the same name (not married?) and is a very senior midwife.

I didn't contact her, but I was pleased that she had done so well.

callgirl1 Wed 11-Apr-18 17:54:59

I had 2 penfriends when at school. One was a French girl, lived in Paris, called Odile Esperet. We wrote for about 3 years, then she just stopped replying. I still have a photo of her. The other was a girl a few years older than me, she was Maltese, named Jane Camilleri, she lived in Valetta. I think that she must have wanted to correspond with someone older, as we didn`t write for long, she stopped replying.

BlueBelle Wed 11-Apr-18 19:25:17

I had a penfriend at school her name was Ingrid and she was from Germany she came over to visit me I can’t temember much about the visit to be truthful but I have photographs so I know it did happen 😂 I don’t know how we lost touch after a few years, probably when I left home at 18 I do wonder what happened to her if she’s still alive or not
I ve had other penfriends over the years which have lasted a year or two then worn themselves out my best friend had hervpenfriend from school to when the friend died a couple of years ago

Parsleywin Wed 11-Apr-18 23:52:07

Welshwife, 72 years is amazing! I wonder if that is some sort of record.

Maggiemaybe Thu 12-Apr-18 01:07:20

I had a French pen friend called Annie, a big and very solemn girl from her photos, and extremely accident prone (she once crashed through her bedroom ceiling while putting something in the loft and broke both arms). She sent me for my birthday a carved wooden box full of liqueur chocolates that got a battering en route - I still remember the postman standing at the door holding a soggy, sugary, dripping parcel at arm’s length. grin

And then there was my clean cut American pen friend, Randy, who penned boastful (and probably very fanciful) letters full of his supposed exploits with mind-expanding drugs and stolen automobiles.

Our friendships started when I was 12 or so and petered out about 5 years later. I’d love to know what happened to them.

harrigran Thu 12-Apr-18 09:11:15

My sister rang me on Tuesday to tell me that her penfriend of 60 years had just died. The lovely German lady had become a part of our wider family especially when my sister went to live in Germany.

seacliff Thu 12-Apr-18 09:16:34

When I was about ten, I had a friend in my road called Valerie Elko. The family emigrated to Canada and we wrote for several years, then it just petered out. I'd forgotten all about it until now. Can't find her on Google.

Alidoll Thu 12-Apr-18 09:49:15

I have a Japanese penfriend and have been writing to her for about 35 years now. Her English wasn’t bad when we were at school (my Japanese being non-existent!). She then went to work at Honda and they didn’t have any English speaking people working in her department so her letters became progressively more difficult to read. She had two children and when they went to school her English improved while they were learning. Now she uses the Japanese equivalent of Babelfish and her letters are often absolutely hilarious.

We swap birthday and Christmas presents (she loves Tunnock caramel logs so sent a packet over).

I love the cards she sends - beautifully made pop up or musical and so different from what we have here.

She’s now on instagram and we chat there sometimes. I’ve never met her but hoping one day to visit Japan and she says she’d love to visit Scotland. Maybe one day...

DotMH1901 Thu 12-Apr-18 11:10:22

I had a penpal in my first year of senior school, she lived in Arizona and we corresponded for a while then it just fizzled out. My older sister had a pen pal in Czechoslovakia when she was about 15 - he was about 17 and wrote about the protests there and how he and his friends were taking part. He wrote to say one friend had been killed whilst protesting and then my sister had no more letters from him - we wondered if perhaps he had been arrested. Often wonder what happened to him.

inishowen Thu 12-Apr-18 11:21:40

When I was a teenager I sent a letter to Radio Caroline asking for penpals. They read out my full name and address. I was inundated with letters from boys and men! I took many letters to school and gave them to my friends. I began writing to someone called Winston. I thought he was a teenager but the photos he sent me looked like they were taken 20 years earlier. I stopped writing to him! I also wrote to a boy called Dave and went to meet him at London Zoo. We had a nice day out but our letters fizzled out after meeting.

Maggiemaybe Thu 12-Apr-18 12:02:25

I wonder how many of us are now googling old penfriends? I think I've found Annie, still with us despite her frequent accidents, and still in the same town. I wish I could remember Randy's surname. It wasn't Newman. grin

Legs55 Thu 12-Apr-18 12:18:11

I had a penpal in my late teens, we did meet but the letters eventually ceased, he actually came from a Town near where I live now.

I have 2 facebook friends who I message regularly, one I speak to everyday, we will meet at some point. I view these 2 as the technological equivalent of penpals. I still look forward to "snail mail" but I find that men especially prefer text or facebook messaginghmm

starlily106 Thu 12-Apr-18 12:51:15

The only time i was supposed to have a penpal was when i was at school and we were given the name of a sailor who was on the ship which the school had 'adopted'. I dutifully wrote to the sailor whose name i was given, took days to write it as I wanted it to be interesting, then waited for a reply from him which still hasn't arrived. To be honest, I don't think any of the sailors replied to any of us. Can't say I blamed them, as we were all 12 or 13 then. This was in the 40s, and things were very different in those days. Nothing very interesting to put in a letter to a grown up sailor.

JaquiBall Thu 12-Apr-18 13:34:03

I have had several penfriends over the years but the latest is my sweetest and most precious - my 18 year old granddaughter. She writes on brightly coloured note paper (usually while enjoying a coffee in one of the many coffee shops she frequents) and pours out her hopes and dreams. I am saving her letters to show her when she is older, say 30 years old perhaps, to remind her of how she used to be and how she faced up to life’s challenges

Happysexagenarian Thu 12-Apr-18 13:45:00

We learned French at Secondary school in the 60s and our teacher arranged for us all to have French penfriends. I enjoyed hearing about my friends life on a farm in the Loire valley which was very different to my life in London, though we had similar interests. After almost a year I received a letter formally inviting me to stay with her family for 2 weeks in the summer holidays. I was so excited, but I knew my Mum would never agree to it. She didn't like anything 'foreign' and didn't see any point in me learning a foreign language. I begged her to let me go but she was adamant. Letters from my friend suddenly stopped and I never heard from her again. I discovered I wasn't the only pupil who couldn't go because of parental prejudices. Many years later my Mum confessed that she had opened my letter and wrote and told my friend that I would not be coming to visit and not to write to me again. Whatever must her family have thought of us! It was typical of my Mum to do that, and although it was well in the past then, I was still furious.

Nanny41 Thu 12-Apr-18 17:00:33

I had two pen friends one in Germany and one in Malta,I visited my friend in Germany and she visited us in the UK,unfortunately I lost touch with my Maltese friend which I really regret as it would be lovely to visit her while visiting Malta, but I have no idea what happened to her I have even forgotten her name, some friend I am!