There was a time when people had pen pals, often someone living in another country. We wrote to them, they wrote back and we learned about one another in ways textbooks cannot teach.
Ask Kaye Allison of Shrewsbury Township who has had a pen pal since elementary school.
"At the request of my sixth-grade teacher at Friendship Elementary back in l964, I started a long time friendship with a girl from Australia," Allison wrote in an email.
"My sixth-grade teacher, Mr. McCullough, encouraged us to get pen pals. I think it was through the Weekly Reader, there were names of people looking for pen pals," she said.
Allison found a life-long friend in her pal, Lynne Waugh Moore of Australia, and offered to share the story of their long-distance friendship.
"Back then, we wrote only letters, now we email, or write letters. I am now 58 years old and have enjoyed all the years of friendship Lynne and I have shared. I still have the first letter she wrote to me," Allison wrote.
The two young girls hit it off right from the start, she said.
"We found out we had so much in common. We love to go camping, she likes camping. We continued to write through high school, when we got married and had babies. We sent pictures back and forth and shared so much," she said.
The girls shared a lot of information about their families and their homeland and Allison said while a student she wrote several reports about Australia.
Allison has every letter, card, photo and memento she received from Moore, and keeps the items in albums and a treasure box of memories.
Some years ago, when Allison's niece visited Australia, she offered to take along a package for Moore. It contained a sweat shirt printed with the words "Glen Rock, Pennsylvania" on it and Allison treasures a photo of Moore wearing the shirt.
"When we mailed pictures, we put a piece of cardboard in the envelope to keep it from getting bent. We used the same piece of cardboard over and over and
The women both like to sew, so along photos of weddings, babies, graduations, family reunions and holidays, they send pictures of patterns back and forth, she said.
Now that retirement is nearing for Kaye and her husband, Ken Allison, she is hoping to travel to Australia to meet the woman who has been her pen pal and long-distance friend for 48 years.
"I would like to get a chance to meet her personally. I would like to visit Australia. I learned a lot about Australia from her letters and it sounds like a unique place and the Australians sound like a fun-loving people. I really do want to go," she
Kathleen Nace, 91, of Shrewsbury recently found the first letter she received from her pen pal in 1937.
"Didn't you have a pen pal? I think everyone had a pen pal. In those days you didn't have cellphones, we didn't even have a telephone but it seems like everybody had a pen pal," Nace said.
"She was from England and she wrote about her 'chums' and I thought that was so interesting that she used that word for her friends. I don't know many years wrote to her but I know it was a long time. I don't have a picture of her and I don't know why I saved that one," she said referring to that first letter.
Nace said she has forgotten her pen pal's name but she does have memories of moving from Baltimore to New Freedom as a youngster.
"We moved to a farm and we had no electricity, no running water, no bathroom. It was horrible," she said.
After graduating from high school Nace moved back to Baltimore, and after completing cosmetology school, got a job earning $9 a week and later $12 a week as a manager.
"During the war I got a job at Glen L. Martin as a riveter making 65 cents an hour," she said.
After the war she worked in a sewing factory for a short time and drove a school bus for nine years but most people in the area will remember her business, the Snoop Shop, where people bought and painted plaster crafts.
"People would come in a sit and paint and talk about their families
Last year, her family and friends held a 90th birthday party for her.
"I was so surprised. There were over 100 people there and we had so much fun. Even the cheerleaders from Susquehannock High School were there. It was great," she said.
Sue Barnhart's first-grade students at Friendship Elementary have had some pretty exciting pen pals.
For more years than she can remember Barnhart's students have exchanged letters with Susquehannock High School soccer players.
"I am not sure when it started but it is something the students enjoy," she said.
While some fear letter writing is becoming a lost art. Barnhart keeps it alive with her young students. They take pen - or pencil - in hand write letters to their pen pals and have discovered that they love getting mail in return.
"It's exciting to get mail. My kids were always excited when they went to the mailbox and there was something for them," Barnhart said.
Her young students aren't any different.
But its about more than receiving mail.
Barnhart sees it as a teaching moment, the opportunity to share with her students the joy of writing and receiving a letter or card.
"When one of the students had a birthday, her pen pal sent her a card, and when one of the soccer players got hurt, her pen pal sent her a get-well card and some of them drew pictures to send with their letters," Barnhart said.
Last spring, Barnhart's class went to a soccer game to cheer for the team and later the soccer team visited Friendship to spend time with their young friends.
The kids decorated the cafeteria with paper soccer balls printed with their pen pals' names, welcomed them with a series of cheers, shared punch and homemade cookies they decorated with the players' numbers and talked about school, their families and their pets.
"A pen pal is someone that plays soccer, someone you can write to and she writes back to you. We ask them questions and they answer them," Peyton Joines of Glen Rock said.
Cassidy Mummert, one of Peyton's pen pals, remembered having a pen pal when she was in Barnhart's first-grade class and "I thought it was so cool to talk to high schoolers."
This time it was "cool" to be the high schooler talking to Peyton.
Peyton's second pen pal, Summer Britcher, said "Peyton writes about what she likes in school and wishes us luck in the games."
Emily Wright was excited about seeing her pen pal, Abby Barnhart play soccer.
"We went to see their soccer game and we cheered for them and they won. It was exciting," she said.
Abby Barnhart said the program is learning experience.
"It's a lot of fun and gives you a different perspective on things, how first graders see things, what they think is important and you have to make sure you're writing neatly. I learned a lot about Emily including that she has a dog named Rosebud," Barnhart said.
"She's a Basset hound," Emily added with a smile.
Sue Barnhart is already looking ahead to next year.
"I would love to continue with the soccer team but they are moving soccer to the fall so I'm not sure who it will be. I am thinking maybe a high school English class but we'll just have to wait and see. We'll come up with something," she said. "I really appreciate the support I get from the coaches and the parents. I think everyone benefits from the program and want it to continue."
KAYE ALLISON shared a copy of the first letter she received from her pen pal, Lynne Waugh Moore of Australia.
She received Allison's first letter in March 1965 and writes: "It seemed strange that you had been ice skating when we were in the middle of a heat wave 102 degrees."
She asked Allison to send her a map of Pennsylvania "so I can see where you live. I'd like to take it to school to show my classmates where my friend lives."
She wrote about her friend, but said she does not have a boyfriend, adding that she has enough to put up with with two brothers. Her older brother, 14, was the champion runner of the school and her younger brother, 8, was in the Boy Scouts. Both boys played football and Lynne and her older brother collected stamps.
Lynne was a Brownie and would be moving soon into the Girl Guides adding that her "Mum" was president of the Girl Guide's Association.
She wrote that her mother "doesn't go out to work, she only does charity work," adding that "I go to the gymnasium here as my father is the instructor," and wrote of traveling in the family station wagon for a holiday to a nearby lake.
"Now we are looking forward to winter but we never have snow as the temperature is above 45 degrees," she wrote.
Allison had a newspaper clipping with photos from an area in Australia called Glenrock. There were trees and open spaces and a herd of cattle that appeared to be Herefords - not much different from the way the countryside around Glen Rock looked in 1965.