They Used To Be Called Pen Pals

Long ago and far away, when I was a young girl, I loved to write letters. This was a time when there were no computers, no cell phones, and… gasp… long distance telephone calls were very, very expensive. I wrote letters to friends in the city I had moved away from.  I wrote letters to my grandparents.  I wrote notes to classmates…. (antique style texting under the table) in class!  I also had three pen pals.

I don’t remember how I acquired these pen pals.  Debbi lived in Massachusetts and owned a horse.  I had a horse too, so we had lots to talk/write about.  We even exchanged black and white photos taken with our matching, Kodak Instamatic cameras.

I also had two pen pals who lived in Japan.  I think I may have made these two friends through Girl Scouts while earning one of the badges that got sewn on my sash.  Both of their names started with T, but I don’t remember anything else about them, or what we wrote about to each other.  All three of those relationships slowly fizzled out.  When I went away to college, I wrote to my parents, my friends, my grandparents.  Eventually long distance got cheaper and I did more calling than writing.

Then along came blogging.  Suddenly I found myself with all kinds of new, far away friends.  At first, I thought it was very strange to be writing back and forth with people all over the world whom I had never met.  Then I realized, it was just like having lots of pen pals!

A few weeks ago, a long discussed and organized plan coalesced.  I reserved three hotel rooms.  I purchased my Amtrak ticket.  I took a day off of work.  We exchanged phone numbers.  At noon on Friday, as I sat in Union Station in downtown Chicago, my phone rang.  I looked at the caller ID: Jeanie.  When I answered, she told me her train was sitting totally still, somewhere in South Chicago. I told her I didn’t mind waiting.  There’s plenty of people watching to be done in Union station!  After clicking off, I realized that although I’ve been communicating with Jeanie for something like three years, I had never heard her voice!  I was a little surprised at how she sounded, though I hadn’t had any expectations about it.  When she walked in to the Great Hall I recognized her immediately.  Jeanie is not shy about using her smiling face on her blog, The Marmalade Gypsy. Of course she figured out who I was when I walked up to her with my arms open.

We set off for our hotel, checked in, stowed our bags, and headed back to the lobby. There was a crowd waiting near the elevator when we stepped off, but I knew immediately that the woman standing in the middle was Diana. Otherwise known as Oh! of This Writing Life.

From that time Friday afternoon until Sunday morning after breakfast, we were off and running. We were happy to go anywhere, eat anything, walk, sit, talk, shop and nobody had a single complaint.  What we did have, was fun.

When I stepped out of the car at the train station Friday morning at the very beginning of this adventure, my youngest daughter rolled down the car window and yelled to me, “I’m telling you Mom, you’re going to meet some 40 year old creep with bodies in his basement. Be careful!” I just laughed. I knew exactly what I was going to meet: old friends.

Three Amigas photo by Jeanie


Good times in Chicago –

Shopping the Magnificent Mile


Onion Rings and French Fries and Stained Glass! on Navy Pier


After the Blues Festival in Grant Park


Photo of the “Bloggies” by the friendly waiter in the Elephant and Castle Pub

  2 comments for “They Used To Be Called Pen Pals

  1. June 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    One of my relatives commented that blogging was like having international pen pals — so true! I’m glad that all of you got to meet and enjoy each other’s company; it sounds like fun.

  2. June 30, 2013 at 2:54 am

    It was a blast!!

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