Penpals meet after sending letters across the Atlantic for 40 years

Schoolgirls were put in touch by national initiatives linking British and US children


Credits: SWNS

Two penpals have finally met - 40 years after first exchanging letters across the Atlantic.

Carol Szyszlyk and Robin Bolton bonded over their love for music after taking part in a programme linking British and American children when they were just 10-years-old.

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Now 50 years old, the former schoolgirls shared a tearful embrace having sent hundreds of letters to each other across the Atlantic.

Carol, from Cambridge, said: "It's amazing. I'm speechless."

Robin, from Oxford, Mississippi, added: "It's surreal, very blessed, I think it's sweet. It's just the goodness of mankind and God's blessings to us.

"To know that relationships can be formed without even being present. It's just remarkable."

Credits: SWNS

They were put in touch by national initiatives linking British and US children.

Robin said: "In the US we only had four channels on TV every morning. Before school they would play a show call the Big Blue Marble."

The TV show offered viewers the chance to become a penpal with children abroad.

"In came the little card, it said you have been paired with Carol of Suffolk, England," said Robin, "I'd never heard of it, but I sent a letter to that address."

A 10-year-old Carol was paired with Robin after taking part in Look-in Magazine's penpal section.

"I used to get a magazine every week it had penpals," she explained.

Credits: SWNS

"It said if you want a penpal contact us. I just sent my name in and I got a letter back."

Despite living thousands of miles apart, the two young girls wrote to each other every month.

They shared stories about their siblings and details of their lives and where they lived but admitted they often misunderstood each other.

"Thinking back to when we were younger, some of the stuff I was writing about she was like 'what do you mean?'" said Carol, "Our lives are so different."

"I didn't understand a third of things she said to me," admitted Robin, "I remember being very methodical and spelling out everything that I thought. She was studious and made it happen, I was the worst writer."

Despite cultural differences the girls carried on writing letters well into their teenage years, helped by a shared appreciation of the King of Rock and Roll.

"When you are from Elvis's home town you have to drop a name," explained Robin. "He was my dad's idol," added Carol.

Credits: SWNS

Robin's own father worked for Delta Airlines and she assumed and promised that a visit to her friend in England was always possible.

"Forever I kept promising I would come over but it never happened due to divorce," she said.

Robin's parents separated and she moved away from her home in Memphis, Tennessee, leaving Carol's letters to arrive unread.

The pals were out of touch for more than 30 years as they started their careers, got married, had children and grandchildren and moved homes.

But in 2009 Robin logged on to Facebook to try and find Carol under her maiden name of Easdon.

"I stalked every Carol Easdon in England," she explained. "I sent every one of them a message."

Carol was not on Facebook at the time so Robin dug out her British friend's 1970s address and sent a speculative letter.

Credits: SWNS

"I penned a letter hoping someone would track down this family and fair enough her daddy still lived there," she said.

Carol added: "There was a letter address to my Dad and he opened it and there was a letter inside just saying I'm trying to track down Carol and this is the last address I had."

Finally re-united online, the two women began corresponding again and catching up on each other's lives, where they discovered some remarkable parallels.

Carol, now works at the North Cambridge Academy, is married to Joe who she met aged 16. The couple have three children.

Robin met her husband Ben at 18 years old, with whom she has three children together. The pair live in Oxford, Mississippi, where Robin manages their investment properties.

The two women and their husbands were due to spend the weekend together ticking off a few of the local sites and trying out punting and fish and chips.

Both agreed that becoming pen pals 40 years ago had been a special experience, one they would recommend to other young girls.

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