When I was in grammar school, there was a woman named Mrs. Chegwidden who found pen pals in England for girls in the United States. I was matched with a girl (whose name I have forgotten) and we corresponded for awhile...maybe a year or two? I don't remember when or how the correspondence ended. I also corresponded with my cousin Peach for a very long time, pretty much from when she was in high school until her first child was born.
In those days, the arrival of the mailman was something magical. I was like Winthrop from The Music Man waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon to arrive.
O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' now,
I don't know how I can ever wait to see.
It could be sompin' for sumone who is
No relation but it could be sump'n special
Just for me!
I just loved writing letters and was happy when I had someone who would write back. When Char was living in Alaska, we had a lively correspondence. When my friend Phil got sick and was in and out of the hospital, he enjoyed letters and while he rarely wrote back, I wrote to him every day for a couple of years.
The 1980s was a golden era for letter writing for me. It was the decade when we were hosting a lot of foreign students and when they returned home, many of them wrote to me for awhile. Our mailman said that I got more international mail than anybody in Davis. In fact, someone wrote a letter to "Mrs. Beverly, Davis, CA" and they delivered it to me!
With the advent of the internet age, gradually more and more people communicated electronically. That was at least as good, if not better, because it was instant gratification. Not the excitement of opening an envelope and taking out some gem, but still mutual communication. It's how Peggy and I became friends, by writing to each other frequently throughout the week. For many years.
I "met" my friend Ron on line and we were good electronic pen pals (and eventually face to face friends) for several years. Less now that he's found love and has a husband to take all of his spare time.
Finding Compassion was wonderful. Not only could I help children around the world, but we actually corresponded with each other. After so many years, I have to admit that most of the letters I get are pretty boring. The same thing letter after letter ("I am fine with my family and I hope you are too. I pray for you and I hope you pray for me,") with little actual information about what is going on in their lives.
But there are a handful who are a joy to hear from. Annie Rose is one of the best. She always talks to me about what she is doing ("Intramural is almost near this coming week. I do practice on our mass dance for the coming contest in the different grade level. Maybe our activities take one week. Many games and events will happen soon.")
Josphat, whom I decided to sponsor because he had been orphaned and was living with relatives, has also become a great letter writer ("I'm promoted to the next class seven come next year. At home I like to help do several work like cooking, taking care of the siblings.")
Rifaldi who was kind of an "also ran" when I took him on is just a delightful correspondent ("In the end of 2017 there was a total solar eclipse in my country. Some of the areas were affected. The moon covered the sun so that it was as dark as it is at night....At school there are some intern teachers who are practicing to teach. I like an intern teacher named Anton because he is very kind.")
Swap Bot has yielded some interactions with people, but none have blossomed into a real "pen pal" friendship yet. Maybe soon.
But the most rewarding letter I received last year, or maybe the year before, was from Brianna. I have been writing to both girls weekly, to keep the grandma relationship alive. It has worked wonderfully when we see each other and when Brianna's first letter came it was such a treat. She was just learning to write. Yesterday I got her latest letter, which is a real letter, telling me about the dog they are taking care of and a sleep-over she is having at a friend's house. I am looking forward to this correspondence growing...at least I hope it will.
Yesterday this also came --
It was my very first letter from 6 year old Lacie, decorated with the Washi tape that I gave each of the girls for Christmas. She is pleased with herself that she is learning to read, and I expect that in the future she, too, will begin to write occasionally.
Snail mail isn't dead. My granddaughters and I are going to keep it going (at least until they each have their own e-mail accounts!)