Pen pals. The name says it all. There was a company called The International Youth Service in Turku, Finland that hooked up willing folks between the ages of 10 and 20 so they could write letters to each other, develop friendships. Learn about other cultures.
I availed myself of this service and had several pen pals - one in particular that lasted a long time.
Dieter and I met through IYS my freshman year of high school - 1963. My mind being a steel trap for useless information - I still remember his initial address - Filserstrasse 11, Balingen Germany. We traded letters pretty much on a monthly basis until Dieter entered the army 6 or so years later. We lost touch after that save for a few holiday cards. All in all it was a pleasant experience that lasted about 20 years or so. I distinctly recall the anticipation every 4 or 5 weeks when I expected a letter and when the mail arrived, his leters immediately stood out because of the light blue ultrathin paper he used. On occasion the letters were a single page that folded into an envelope. We discussed everything from music, sports and even politics a bit.
Flash forward to the early 2000s - I am now in Texas working at RadioShack. One morning my email notification goes off (the Dudley Do Right them at that time )
and what do I see? an email asking if I am the same Chuck McConvey that used to live in Hayward, CA. It was Dieter - he had found me. via the Internet - somewhat ironic and the Internet was ultimately responsible for the IYS shutting down in 2008.
We traded a few emails and caught up. Dieter was a judge in Germany at that time. He'd actually been on a vacation to the SF Bay Area and looked up my old address. Catching up was fun. Although we have not been in contact since that time, it was a great time and I still consider him a friend.
These days email has supplanted writing skills for many folks but frankly IMHO emailing does not make up for the things a letter brings to the table. I miss writing them. I miss the initial stages of Lynn's and my relationship when she was still attending BYU and we wrote back and forth.
When she passed away last February, one of the cards I received included a lengthy note from one of Lynn's 2 best friends - Donna. Donna shared some wonderful recollections of her and Lynn and they were so much more meaningful because she sent them n that card, handwritten and signed.
Don't get me wrong - I love being email pals with folks too. The LBC has opened up some vistas that way in places like India, Ireland and others.
That's my take n this week's topic. Check out the other LBC folk for a different take on the matter.