Despite the introduction of email and real-time online video chats, there is something magical about handwritten letters. Pen pals Dolores Bailey of British Columbia, Canada, and Lyn Carpenter of Adelaide, Australia, dutifully maintained a friendly correspondence with one another for over six decades. After years spent sharing details about their life milestones, joys, and sorrows, the pair of long-distance buddies decided to meet face to face for the first time.
The Lasting Power Of Letters
When Dolores Bailey and Lyn Carpenter began writing to one another, they were ten-years-old. Lyn made the first move to be a pen pal in 1960 after she found a Candian address where she could send off a letter. Quickly, the two girls became fast friends as they shared many similar interests. Even though the pen pals endured being thousands of miles apart, through sharing letters, they felt incredibly close to one another throughout life.
As the years passed and the girls reached adolescence and adulthood, Lyn and Dolores gushed over their intense love for The Beatles, music, and hobbies. During the ups and downs of their teenage years, having a pen pal to lean on helped Lyn and Dolores get through okay. In addition to sending letters, the young women enjoyed swapping samples of sewing projects, sharing pictures, and enjoying a good laugh.
No Matter The Distance
There was a short stint when Lyn and Dolores stopped communicating with one another, following getting married and having kids. It wasn’t long before the two sparked up their pen pal friendship again, using email and text message to check up on one another. Neither lady recalled who decided to get the ball rolling again but after a two-year hiatus, the good friends carried on their relationship. Both Lyn and Dolores discovered that they each bore two children, became grandparents, and equally adored singing in the choir.
Once Dolores decided traveling to Australia and meeting Lyn in person was a part of her “bucket list,” she quickly made some phone calls and flight arrangements. Lyn commented on her 60-year-long friendship with Dolores, “She’s the friend who I have had the longest.” Dolores touched down in Sydney, Australia and took a bus to Adelaide, where Lyn currently resides. The pen pals immediately greeted each other with a warm hug at the bus station. Meeting face-to-face was considered a formal gesture, as the two friends felt they deeply knew each other quite well.
An Unshakeable Bond
“Sixty years is pretty special,” said Lyn Carpenter. “We’re both committed to keeping this relationship going,” said Dolores Bailey. While some people are not likely to let time and tide close a door to friendship, these two pals are in it for the long-haul. When together in Australia, the pair checked out a Beatles memorial and other sites of interest in Adelaide, Australia. Until the duo plan for their next reunion in-person, they have continued their tradition of writing letters back and forth.
Online Reddit, users were moved by the story of the two ladies. SaltyLilFella commented, “I love stories like this one. Reminds me of something you’d hear on This American Life. Thanks for sharing. :)” Perhaps inspired by the story, user DonViaje chimed in, “I’m traveling around Australia right now… PM me your address and I’ll send you a postcard.” Realizing the importance of maintaining long-term friendships, ConsequencesofHuman responded, ” As a Candian girl, I had an Australian penpal growing up! We kept it up from Grade 2 to Grade 7 or so. It’s too bad we didn’t keep it up… Tracy (from New South Wales I think) if you’re reading this, hope you’re doing awesome!”
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