we get letters…

An email from my niece Angie in Iowa has had me smiling a full day: her nine-year-old daughter wonders if I will be her penpal. Oh, yeah! But the invitation came with a caveat: the contents of said letters are not to be shared with said family. Sounds fair to me. I remember being that age. And I recall the excitement of seeing a brightly stamped letter addressed to me in my family’s Promise City mailbox.

Thank you, Weekly Reader (anyone else out there have that little paper tucked in their memory bank?) for providing a pre-web connection for  kids around the world. There was a little column reserved for those who wanted to have an air-mail conversation, and I jumped at the chance.

My first penpal was from Quezon City in the Philippines. Over the course of our writing, I learned a great deal more about her homeland and a little bit more about my own father’s military service there. Even then, I knew Dad was selectively sharing only the good–the different foods, the geography. Given the fact that he trained there immediately prior to the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki and was among the first U.S. troops into Tokyo, what he didn’t share was all the more significant. But he and I connected because Isabella and I had connected, and for that I remain grateful.

In high school, I became penpals with Billy from Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles. And while my letters were politely answered, the true gift came when I shared his address with my British-invasion-loving friends Patty and Bonnie McClain. The three of them actually met at a future point. Love that.

And so, my 2012 penpal: you are on!

Snail mail R us!


2 Responses to “we get letters…”

  1. at first glance i thought the pic was of Dad’s tin man creation!! Gary

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