The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

September 21, 2013

Jim Bailey: Era of pen pals gives way to social media

It was very recently that inexplicably the name of Arne Sandli popped into my head. I hadn’t thought about that name since my grade school days in Minnesota when we were briefly – very briefly – pen pals.

Our teacher set us up with pen pals that year. I think we were fifth-graders, and European students who were learning English and liked to practice it by writing letters were a little older than we. I was given the name of Arne Sandli, who lived in Norway, and his address. I sent a letter asking a few questions about his country and getting into my affinity for radio programs in the era before TV became popular.

Eventually he replied. I don’t recall everything he wrote, but he simply answered my main query by saying, “I have a radio.” It was later in the summer before I wrote again. This time I didn’t get a reply. End of pen pals.

Back in those days pen pals were one method of reaching out to someone from another location or even another culture. In fact letter-writing in general was much more common than it is today.

One friend, whose father was our pastor in my early elementary years, moved away and we corresponded for a while. That too fizzled out eventually; out of sight out of mind, you know. I did run into him a few times later, twice in Michigan and once here in church camp-meeting-type settings. And I’ve encountered his older sister a couple of times in adulthood. But he and I have lost touch also.

The phenomenon of social media, however, has rejuvenated this type of contact. Going on Facebook, Twitter and so on, people are finding and friending others they’ve known in past lives.

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you think Madison County and its cities need stricter pet ownership laws?

Yes, animal abuse is rampant in our area and something needs to be done.
Yes, but it may not help. It’s difficult to enforce such laws.
No, the laws are fine as they are.
Not sure
     View Results