Linda Martin (Arizonan) and Wendy Norrie (Aussie) had been pen pals for 55 years. Their friendship started when Ms Norrie's fourth-grade teacher asked her class to participate in a pen pal project in 1958.
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Linda Martin (Arizonan) and Wendy Norrie (Aussie) had been pen pals for 55 years.
After decades of writing to each other via snail mail, Ms Martin and Ms Norrie finally met for the first time. It was Ms Norrie's first time in Arizona and Ms Martin invited her to stay with her for two weeks.
Monday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the two women were both overwhelmed to finally meet each other.
"Never having met before, I guess there's always that element of apprehension, but it was like coming to meet a longtime friend that you haven't seen for a long time. I didn't feel as if I was coming to meet a stranger," Ms Norrie told The Arizona Republic.
Ms Martin said she felt the same.
"It was very exciting. I was a little apprehensive, too, because never having met her, you just never know. But it was very emotional to us. I cried, and she cried."
The Amusing Letters
In Oct 3, 1958, Ms Norrie who was just 9 years old at that time wrote her first letter to Ms Martin who was just 11 years old.
"Dear Linda, our teacher Mr Wilcox received the letter your class sent to us .... He asked us did we want a penfriend from your class so I picked you," wrote Ms Norrie.
Little Ms Norrie described her brick farmhouse in her letter. She said their house has two verandas and their farm has 900 acres planted with crops and home to sheep and cattle.
"Dad has a welder, and likes making gates, lorry crates to hold sheep, and ever so many useful farm necessities," Little Ms Norrie wrote.
But young Ms Martin was confused about the terms "veranda" and "lorry". After some research, she was amazed to find out that they actually mean "patio" and "truck".
Their "penfriendship" became educational for Ms Martin, while Ms Norrie found an inclination to watch American television and broadcasts.
The Pen Pals Today
As the two grew up to be women, they still wrote to each other every couple of months, all via snail mail.
When they both became busy in college, work, families, health issues, jobs and travel, they saw to it that that they send themselves letters and gifts for Christmas.
Both of their birthdays fall within two weeks of Christmas. As gifts, they send each other local calendars representing each other's countries. This had become a tradition within their friendship.
When asked what kept their friendship through the years, both Ms Norrie and Ms Martin said that they cannot pinpoint anything particular.
"I wasn't in it to make great history. It was just to create friendship with somebody on the other side of the world and compare lifestyles and that sort of thing," Ms Norrie said.
Ms Martin had prepared interesting itineraries for Ms Norrie's stay - Grand Canyon, Jerome, Sedona, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Lake Havasu City for the London Bridge and Las Vegas.
On the other hand, Ms Norrie brought Ms Martin Aussie stuff that she have not heard and tasted before - Vegemite, Tim Tam chocolate biscuits and a Splayd.
Ms Martin said that she also has plan of visiting Australia in 2015 and Ms Norrie already has plans for this.
"My plan is to, as we go different places, pick up things that I think she would like to take back to Australia," Ms Norrie said.
As for their two-week togetherness in Arizona, the two planned to re-read the letters they sent to each other since they were kids.
"I think we are a generation that cherishes things like this. And so we kept them. I can't explain why. I thought they were really important, Ms Martin said.
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