Friendship written in ink
Anne Duke Judd and June Rogers Kenyon hold up an apron with a photo of the women from 1956 when they became pen pals, showing the Maple Leaf of Canada and the Silver Fern of New Zealand. The women recently met face to face for just the 10th time at the West Kelowna home of Kenyon’s son, Dean, and his wife, Jenny, to celebrate 61 years of letter writing and mark their 75th birthdays.
Two women who forged a friendship through years of letter writing recently met face-to-face in West Kelowna.
Pen pals June Rogers Kenyon travelled from New Zealand and Anne Duke Judd travelled from Port Elgin, Ont., to meet at Kenyon’s son Dean’s West Kelowna home to celebrate 61 years of pen friendship and to mark their 75th birthdays.
It was a trip down memory lane for the women, remembering how young they were in the 1950s when they became pen pals, the joy of writing and receiving real mail, handwritten with a pen and paper.
In the days before personal computers, emails and texting, writing to a pen pal was a popular hobby.
It all began when Kenyon was 14 and became interested in writing to pen pals. She found Judd’s name asking for a New Zealand pen friend in the pen-pal column of a weekly newspaper.
“I still have vivid memories of Anne’s first letter coming all the way from Ontario arriving in the farm mailbox at my parents’ dairy farm,” said Kenyon, who grew up near a small country town in Northland.
Kenyon married in 1962 and said she would eagerly look forward to receiving Judd’s lovely handwritten letters as she went about her daily chores as a young housewife and mother on her sheep-and-beef farm.
“It was just wonderful to sit down with a cup of tea to relish Anne’s letters.” said Kenyon.
The women exchanged the news from their part of the world, photographs of their families and Christmas and birthday gifts.
Both of the women’s homes have a flavour of her pen pal’s country, with many a souvenir tea towel proudly on display in their respective kitchens.
Through the hand-written letters the women shared the joys of their lives such as marriages and the births of their children and the sorrows such as the passing of their parents.
This is the 10th time the women have met face-to-face as they have visited each other’s homelands over the years bringing home fond memories and souvenirs.,
The pen pals first met in 1975 when Kenyon and her husband, Ron, came for a holiday in North America and visited Judd and her family in Port Elgin.
Kenyon’s son, Dean, became a Canadian with Judd’s help. She took him into her home to help him get started when he arrived in Port Elgin, Ont., 31 years ago.
Dean married and he and his wife, Jenny, produced three daughters and the family moved to West Kelowna in 1998.
“After all these years of keeping in touch, I feel Anne has been like an overseas sister to me,” said Kenyon.
Anne Duke Judd and June Rogers Kenyon cut into a chocolate cake baked by Kenyon’s granddaughter to celebrate their 61 years of pen friendship.