Do You Remember… Pen-Pals



I don’t know where this post will go because I never had a pen-pal.


I think it was around 4th grade or so that my teacher tried to get us interested in getting a pen-pal.  I flunked the project.  Nah, actually it wasn’t required.  And a few of the “goodie-goodie” girls followed through and made contact with someone.  And they would share their letters with the class.


The closest thing I had to a pen-pal was a girl I met at a social.  Cathy N. and I agreed to keep in touch and send each other club cards – hers, from the Leeward side and mine, from the Windward side.  And we actually did send each other letters with club cards inside throughout most of high school – although I must admit that it was about 3 to 1 in her favor.  I was never a good correspondent.  Sorry about that Cathy.


Now, I did used to send letters to girlfriends back in the day – but those don’t count as pen-pals.  Is there such a thing as a pen-morethanpals?


And the stationary that the girls used to use was so thin, and light, and feminine.  And nice smelling too.  Mine, it was Japanese stationary pad paper – the kind with lines and maybe a cute little cartoon animal in the top corner.  Remember – this was back in the day before Hello Kitty was even born.


Did you have a pen-pal?  Or pen-pals?  If so, were they from the U.S. or from another country?  Did you ever exchange more that just letters?  Maybe they mailed you a gift so you reciprocated and sent them a coconut.  KIDDING!  And in case this topic dies fast – as a fallback, what about love letters that you used to send.  Or receive.  Did your siblings tease you about them?  Or did you rub it in their faces.  LOL  By any chance, do you still have love letters from old flames?  Don’t worry – you can say – your secret’s safe with me.




34 Responses to “Do You Remember… Pen-Pals”

  1. Mark Shelby says:

    Aloha to another good MLC Thread! Can’t wait for the next one. Love you all! My brothers and sisters!
    And always remember our good old days of Hawai’i! Especially our wonderful little kid time!

    This song totally nails it for me!

    Keola Beamer, “Ku`u Home O Kahalau`u”

  2. Mark Shelby says:

    My lifelong friend Pam sent this to me tonight. I think it’s too good to not post……

    Once a group of 500 people were attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He started giving each person a balloon. Each person was then asked to write their name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.

    The people were then let into that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written on it within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos.

    At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon.
    Then, the speaker asked each person to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.

    The speaker then began, “This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.

    Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life…the pursuit of happiness.”

  3. Mark Shelby says:

    I just tried to look up some history of Pen Pals. And I found this site. I think this is also what my teacher may have used at Kahala Elementary, because I also remember writing to foreign students. This goes back to 1936…! I remember this name now.

    Student Letter Exchange…..

  4. 4G says:

    Yay @KAN! Good for you; keep that cleaning energy going! 🙂

    @sally – that paper shredder story is pretty funny; never thought about that. Makes total sense – good idea!

    I had a couple/three letters that must have been only like 10-years old. I ended up dumping them in the great purge that was my last move a couple of years ago. I gave them one last read, then trashed ‘um. Reading them brought back a lot of memories.

    LOL – I’m sooo anal. When it comes to women, handwriting counts! 😉

  5. KAN says:

    Re old love letters – I have some old letters, but I don’t think I kept any from Sweetie’s immediate predecessor. I have a box of old letters downstairs in storage that I haven’t seen in at least 5-6 years, so I can’t say for certain. I think letters, especially handwritten ones, require effort and thought, so I hate throwing those away. I still have letters from my grandma, who passed in 1994, that I especially treasure.

    But I understand Sally’s reasoning about bad juju around old letters too. I have burned old letters in the past, and boy, did *that* feel good at the time.

  6. KAN says:

    @4G: you’re not being a pain, but I don’t want to go off topic. I’m making some progress – got to about 1/2 – 2/3 of the mess spots on the list.

  7. sally says:

    Old love letters? More like cards and mementos. Nope, didn’t keep a single one. Don’t want bad mana hanging around my environment. The invention of shredders led to a most healing method of symbolism of shredding cards, tickets, stuff like that. There’s just something about that *zzzhhhrrrzzzhhhrrrrzzzhhhrrr* that sounds soooo gooood.

  8. sally says:

    I had a pen pal from South Euclid, Ohio. Nancy Nemeth. Don’t even ask how in the world I remember all that LOL.

    We wrote for a few months and that was it. Guess I wasn’t interesting enough. I did try looking for her on FB … just to see if she was there. nope. ’nuff said, curiosity squashed.

  9. Mark Shelby says:

    Hey!……. khs68 …….I think Charles Manson has pen pals too! And some of them wanted to marry him in prison. Oh My! Total weirdness abounds!

  10. keoni says:

    I remember having a pen pal in intermediate school who lived in Neenah, Wisconsin. Then after I graduated I wrote for a time to some people here in Hawai’i. I often wonder what happened with them.

  11. khs68 says:

    I wonder if Ted Kaczynski started out as a penpal. 😉

  12. Mark Shelby says:

    Hawai’ian by Heart…….hey! I was one smat Haole!…..hehe

  13. Hawai'ian by Heart says:

    @Mark Shelby

    Very guud uncle lol.

  14. Mark Shelby says:

    Hawai’ian by Heart…..I still have old teen love letters locked in one of my bedroom drawers in my family home at Diamond Head. It’s a built in desk, drawer and cupboard set up. Here is the trick to lock the drawer. You pull the chair out of the chair opening. You crawl under with a drill. You drill a hole on the side clear into that drawer you want to lock. Then you stick one very long nail through! I never wanted my mom or sister to read my love lettahs! Pretty sly yea? Ya…..I know that what if feeling!

  15. Hawai'ian by Heart says:

    No never had a penpal, but made up for it by passing notes in class lol. Had alot of pretty pen pals in grade school, can you say hello kitty 🙂 lol.

    Yes i have a problem with being a paper pack rat (learned it from my mom and my tutu) Since i keep almost everything, ive kept my old cards, love letter etc. Once in awhile i will go back and read them and go what if?

  16. 4G says:

    @Mark Shelby – we built quite a friendship! 😉

    BTW – @Rod and (I think . . .) @KAN – how’s that “spring cleaning” coming? As I recall, deadline was June???? LOL! Sorry – jus’ being a pain . . . . 😉

  17. Mark Shelby says:

    That means she liked you! You should have asked her out on date and challenged her to triangle finger football!….hehe

  18. 4G says:

    Oy – kinda slow. Hmm – maybe too personal. LOL.

    Sooo – the “wiper blade” exchange . . . .

    Was elaborate. LOL. Single sheet of folder paper with the note. But, folded down, origami-style to make a little “envelope”. LOL. Kind of hard to describe, but 8 1/2″ x 11″ ended up as something like 1.75″ x 3.25″.

    So, that was the first note. She replies via wiper blade. The note is folded the same way! LOL! AWESOME!!!!


  19. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    Happy Aloha Friday!

  20. 4G says:

    @volleymom2 – that’s awesome! 🙂

  21. 4G says:

    @Mark Shelby – dunno; gotta defer to Rod. But, my personal opinion? Count! 😉

  22. Mark Shelby says:


    I used to pass note in class to girls!

    Does that count?…….LOL

  23. Mark Shelby says:

    4G……That Almost counts!…..LOL

  24. volleymom2 says:

    I remember the pen pal column that came out every Sunday. I was in the 4th grade and started to write to a girl in Michigan, then I had the idea to get a pen pal in every state. At one time I was writing to about 35 people. I still write to two people to day.. the first one from VA when I was 10 yrs. ( we are the same age). When I got married, she and her mother came to my wedding. Then hubby and I on our East coast visit went to Va to see them. She came again 2 years later.. we still do snail mail. Then I started to write to another from NY from 10th grade.. her family had money and they came every year and stayed at the Sheraton Wakiki in July. Got my license that time so I was chauffer. Still kept in touch during college then in my 20’s she stopped writing. Fast forward… last year.. she found me on fb!! We had lots of catching up to do!

  25. 4G says:

    Sooo – In my high school senior year, I would, occasionally, swap notes with a girl. We knew each other pretty well, but didn’t have any classes together. We both parked in the school parking lot and knew each other’s cars. We would leave notes under each other’s wiper blades …. Does that count? LOL!

  26. dihudfan says:

    had one wen I wuz in the army… a friend of a friend… a girl from San Antonio, Tx… wrote to each other a lot… it wuz casual and friendly, she moved to North Platte, Nebraska… we lost contact after a few letters… I also talked to her on the phone a few times, it wuz nice, wish I could have met her in person… she wuz pretty and had a really nice personality from what I could determine from letters and conversations… long time ago… fund and sweet memories…

  27. Mark Shelby says:

    I remember at Kahala Elementary one of my teachers got a hold of a pen pal list of kids all across the country. We had to choose a pen pal from the list and start writing them. This was used to help teach us how to write letters, spelling and composition. We got to go up front and read our letters to the class and read my pen pal’s return letters. I thought it was really fun.

  28. 4G says:

    I remember having a pen-pal at some point in elementary school. This was in the day when snail mail was the dominant way of sending personal messages to people far away. Electronic communications consisted of things like television, radio, telephone, telegram and telegraph. The world was a larger place. Air travel was considered a luxury. Long distance telephone calls (even to neighbor islands) were expensive. The closest thing to “mobile telephones” were walkie-talkies. Vacuum tubes were prevalent; transistor radios were the latest novelty. One computer filled an entire room. Hawaii’s television was on a one-week delay for mainland shows. If you ordered stuff to be delivered through the mail, the typical wait was six to eight weeks!

    I remember being thrilled at receiving mail addressed to me (and it wasn’t a birthday card from some insurance agent!). That’s about all I recall of the experience. 🙁 I figure I must have been in something like the fourth-grade. It was a person on the mainland. We exchanged two, maybe three letters. I don’t recall if my pen-pal was a boy or a girl. I don’t recall the content of our communication.

    Computers are wonderful tools, yet I miss handwritten words somewhat. These days, I have a hard time handwriting more than a few paragraphs before my hand muscles feel like giving out. My fountain pens have long since been emptied and cleaned – and, sadly, sit in storage.

  29. eddyo says:

    Good Morn Rod,

    I had a penpal from Germany pretty much thru out high school. We exchanged pics (still have hers) & even graduation announcements. After starting UHM , wrote once or twice, but on both sides life got complicated. I often thought about how her life turned out…
    I believe the one thing you might have missed about not having a penpal from anywhere else from Hawaii, is the anticipation of getting that letter & reading about what maybe ordinary to that person but so exotic to the receiver.

    btw, still have the letters (what a packrat!)

  30. Masako says:

    Good Morning! There used to be a section in the newspaper that you could find penpals. We had a project in Elementary school to choose someone to write to but the person I choose never wrote back. I’ve had friends in elementary school that left the island and we would write for awhile then that stopped. I’m not one to write letters so I guess I didn’t make a good Pen Pal.

  31. Lowtone123 says:

    I remember growing up my mom had a pen pal in North Carolina, I think, since she was in high school in the 50’s. I don’t believe they ever met in person although they kept in touch through letters and pictures for like 40 years or more.

  32. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    No pen pal here.

  33. KAN says:

    I did have a pen pal when I was in 5th grade. I think my teacher asked if anyone was interested in a pen pal, and that’s how it started. We kept up correspondence until our early college years, then we lost touch.

    My dad was not in favor of this friendship–he thought it would lead to her trying to wrangle a trip to Hawai`i.

  34. kaimukitita says:

    I had a pen pal from Wyoming. Our teacher passed out letters to us and I got one from Dean Hammond. In his first letter to me he asked if I could send him a picture of our grass shack. He also wanted to know if we had electricity.

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