USA – Australia Pen Pals for 55 Years

OK, I’ll admit.  This is NOT the typical kind of post you’ll get from me.  Normally I’m the guy pounding my chest telling people how amazing and life-changing being an entrepreneur can be (and it is – shameless plug).

Today’s post is WAY different.  This is one of those “feel good” make me want to hug a friend and cry kind of stories.  Over the past year, my family has had the opportunity to become very close with another family here in Scottsdale.  I’ve known the husband for several years.  We’ve been professional friends and real friends.  It was when he transplanted his wife and kids to Scottsdale that our friendship took on an entirely new existence.  Our wives became “BFF’s” and our kids became friends.  It’s a good thing too, since we really like each other’s company.  Anyway, it was a few months ago that my friend Carla told me the craziest story.  Her mom Linda has had a pen pal for over 50 years. If that’s not cool enough, the story gets rich.  Apparently her pen pal lives in Australia and they’ve been writing each other since they were little kids in 4th grade.  They’ve never met in person, they’ve never spoken over the phone, they just started using the internet to write, they’ve not “Facebook’d” each other.  We’re talking about good old fashioned pen pals.  Here’s the kicker.  My friend’s mom Linda and her pen pal are about to meet LIVE and IN-PERSON in just under a week.  Apparently her pen pal is coming to Arizona to stay with her friend for 3 weeks.  I think I’ll have to go watch this as it unfolds at the airport.  It’s on the calendar.  I cannot wait to experience this with them!

I’ve included the “official” press release below.

  • Carla S. Martin Falcone

    Childhood Pen Pals Meet After 55 Years

    Local Arizonan Hosts Australian Pen Pal

    GILBERT, AZ —- In 1958, Australian native Wendy Norrie’s 4th grade class was taught by Mr. Wilcox. Guided by their teacher, the small class looked up all cities in the United States with his name and settled on Wilcox, Nebraska as their target. At the time, Wilcox, NE had a population of about 300. When its 4th grade class of approximately 18 students was invited to be pen pals with a class in New South Whales Australia, Linda (Golter) Martin signed on. Martin chose and answered the letter from Norrie and the two have been writing ever since; that was over 55 years ago. Young Martin and Norrie shared their lives in ink. Norrie’s family was sheep ranchers while Martin’s family were Midwestern crop farmers. When they first began, they wrote every two to three months. Martin learned new words like “veranda” which meant porch, “frock” which meant dress, and “lorry” which meant truck. The budding friendship expanded her vocabulary and her world. Over the years and as they aged the frequency of their letter writing slowed while their sharing increased. Annual letters were filled with family news, marriages, divorce, kids, health issues, family deaths, grandchildren, jobs, travel, hobbies, and celebrations. In addition, having each sharing in a birthday within two weeks of Christmas, Martin in December and Norrie in January, they began the tradition of sending calendars representative of their country as gifts for one another. In their 55-year relationship, Martin and Norrie have never spoken. In fact until recently, they have only written using traditional mail to deliver their correspondence. A few months ago Martin received an email from Norrie who excitedly shared that she was planning her first visit to the U.S. Martin returned an email suggesting Norrie visit the Grand Canyon. Shortly thereafter it was decided that Norrie would visit Martin and her husband for a three-week stay. During her vacation, Norrie and the Martins will be exploring the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Yuma, Mexico, Scottsdale, the Phoenix area, and their hometown of Gilbert.


    Norrie arrives Monday, September 16th at 12:49 p.m. on US Airways flight #625 at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. A welcome breakfast with friends and family will be held Tuesday, September 17th at Saguaro Lake Restaurant in Saguaro Lake. Media is welcome to record the arrival and meeting of Martin and Norrie. Pen pal letters and photos available upon request.

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