Reuniting with long lost pen pals

Published 12:58 pm Saturday, August 27, 2022

By Ronnie Michel

Have y’all ever heard of pen pals?” I asked my oldest granddaughters. Even while I was asking them, I had no idea why I thought of that. The word just popped in my head. Their slight knowledge of the subject was greater than their desire to ever mail a letter to someone they didn’t know, then wait around to see if there would be a response. I forgot about the topic as soon as our conversation ended.

The next week, I went to my granddaughters’ Ready, Set, Go Night at St. Joan of Arc School to serve pizza with the Grandparents Club. As I was writing my information on the Sign-Up sheet, another grandmother asked my maiden name. When I told her she said, “You might not remember this, but we used to be pen pals. I’m Pam Mancuso.” She didn’t have to say her last name. It was already on the tip of my tongue.

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I forgot about the pizza and the grandchildren while Pam and I tried to remember how we became pen pals in the first place. How did two children who grew up in neighboring parishes along the river ever begin to correspond? Her mother later said the Times-Picayune had a column, Aunt Jane’s Letter Club, where you could list your name, address, and photo and write to each other.

Soon we were sharing our story with our daughters who were at Ready, Set, Go night. Only my daughter Monique questioned why I (from Reserve) wrote to someone so close by in  Gramercy. Our other daughters, Candy, Lauren, and Elise were just as excited as we were.

I can’t speak for Pam, but as a child, I never dreamed of cell phones, computers, or being connected to the world in seconds through internet. Nor did I ever dream that I would one day serve in a Grandparents Club with my pen pal.