Penpals get it write
The only thing separating two remarkable pen-pals is the Tasman Sea.
Lois Eagles and Elvie Preo’s friendship spans six decades of letter writing that emerged out of a school project when they were young girls.
The Torbay ‘‘townie’’ and the South Australian ‘‘country girl’’ are both 72 and call themselves sisters.
‘‘There’s not much we don’t know about each other,’’ Lois says.
They’ve shared teenage years, birthdays, marriages, pregnancies, their children’s weddings, even divorce, via letters.
Lois first introduced herself to Elvie as a 12-year-old St Cuthberts student in 1954.
She grabbed Elvie’s letter from a bunch sitting on a desk after a classmate sent a request to Australia for pen-pals.
‘‘I didn’t really think about it – I just picked it up. And here we are today,’’ she laughs.
The women have visited each other in their home towns numerous times with the most recent being Elvie’s visit to the North Shore in late November in celebration of their 60th ‘‘friendship anniversary’’.
They couldn’t be happier in each others company but the trip was tinged with a hint of sadness.
‘ ‘ It may be the last time we see each other. I’m not fit to travel and we’re both getting older,’’ says Lois, who had a stroke several years ago.
They’ve often talked about moving to the same country but family ties have always held them back.
‘‘I would love nothing more than for Lois to come and live in Bega but she’s got family here and I’m wedded to my part of the world too,’’ Elvie says.
Being different is what she says makes their bond so strong.
‘‘I’m a country bumpkin and she’s a city girl – but we j ust fit. Right down to finishing each others sentences.’’
Lois, a former hairdresser and salon owner, remembers her first trip to Australia like it was yesterday.
‘‘When I got there it was like I already knew the place. Elvie had described it so well in her letters. Meeting her family was j ust like coming home,’’ she recalls.
The friends have holidayed together around Australia and New Zealand and Lois is the godmother to Elvie’s daughter.
They talk on the phone more than they write letters nowadays but agree there’s still a distinct magic in putting pen to paper.
‘‘There’s nothing quite like getting a letter. It’s like nothing else matters. Everything goes on hold until I’ve read it at least twice,’’ Lois says.
It’s a bond that has outlasted many of life’s milestone events and they agree it’s not about to end any time soon.
‘‘We’re just two women that click. It’s that simple,’’ Lois says.