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Pen pal forges lifelong friendship

Helen Oredson Mahle is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


I was in the fifth grade at Bancroft School in Minneapolis. My teacher, Miss Scott, had taught the fifth grade in Swampscott, Mass., the year before.

She had a small picture of each of her students on a large sheet of paper. We students in Minneapolis were to choose the person we would like to write to. I was too slow in making a choice — I just couldn’t decide — until there was only one little cross-eyed girl who hadn’t been chosen. Her name was Virginia.

So writing to Virginia became my project. At first I needed coaxing to get started writing and I remember my father asking me, “Have you written to Virginia lately?”

Then he would help me write about what life was like in Minneapolis. Virginia didn’t give up either and eventually as a late teenager I traveled to visit her in Massachusetts.

Her eye had straightened out; she didn’t even wear glasses. She borrowed her father’s car and we explored the surrounding area of Swampscott. We exchanged birthday and Christmas presents.

She met and married a man who owned a ranch in California. With my family I visited her there. They came to Portland to visit me.

It has been a long time since we first communicated while in grade school. My indecision in the fifth grade resulted in this rewarding lifelong friendship.



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