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These Women Have Been Penpals for 70 Years, Forging a True Friendship From 10,000 Miles Away

“Everyone admits that the talent of writing nice letters is peculiarly feminine,” wrote Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey. For proof, one has only to look at pen pals Jill Stretton and Cathie Alexander, who have been in faithful correspondence for seven decades while living half a world away.

Jill Stretton (left), Cathie Alexander (right), Jill Stretton

The long letter-writing relationship began in 1950 when 12-year-old Stretton (née Frankling), a native of Australia, received the address of Alexander (then McIntosh) from a family friend who had recently returned from a visit to Scotland. . .

In the past, a long-distance airmail letter could take up to six weeks to reach its destination, but the couple felt an instant relationship after their first communication that only grew stronger with time.

Although the two women did not meet in person until 1982, they feel like they really grew up together, sharing life milestones through their letters.

“She is like a member of the family,” Stretton said. ABC North Queensland. “And we are still as close as we always were 70 years ago. It’s quite an achievement. “

READ: The writer starts a pandemic pen pal project: now 7,000 people send messages of joy to strangers

Stretton and Alexander met twice more; once in 1988, and again in 2000, and they have never stopped writing to us. Along with hopes, dreams, plans, photos, and family updates, over the years her missives have at times contained little memories that have become treasured family memories.

Jill Stretton

Though they still write letters and send vacation packages, with ubiquitous technology, Stretton and Alexander have leaned, at least a little, to the times (though video calling is a bust).

For longer epistles, they have turned to the Internet, but claim that nothing replaces a handwritten note. “Right now, we tend to send postcards of where we’ve been and what we’re doing instead of writing big letters because we’re sending emails now,” Stretton admitted, brazenly adding, “Aren’t we smart?”

PLUS: Lonely grandmother receives over 1,000 Christmas cards from around the world, giving her ‘faith in human nature’ back

“Distance is nothing when you have a motive,” wrote Jane Austen. For dedicated longtime pen pals Stretton and Alexander, that bit of wisdom has also proven to be true.

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