Snail mail has become something of a rarity these days, but two pen pals from opposite ends of the world managed to exchange roughly 3,000 letters over the course of 74 years without ever meeting. On Monday, after nearly a lifetime of correspondence, Audrey Sims and Norma Frati, of Portland, Texas and Perth, Australia, met for the first time.
According to the Associated Press, Frati, 87, and Sims, 83, first began writing to one in another in 1939. Frati, who goes by Kitty, was 13 at the time while Sims was only 9. They had been assigned pen pals as part of a class project, but neither of the then girls likely imagined that their letters would continue for nearly three quarters of a century.
Despite the long-distance, Sims and Frati continued to write to each other as they grew up and even as they started families of their own, cataloguing marriages and the births of their children and grandchildren. Their letter writing even touched on World War II, during which Kitty aided the war effort by helping to build planes.
“I think we've got parallel families,” Sims said. “We're both married and divorced, and then married, and had children, and it’s sort of almost the same.” Frati chimed in, “And what said earlier, we both love flowers.”
“Oh yes, we’ve got to look at gardens,” Sims said.
The two were finally united in person for the first time at the Corpus Christi International Airport in Texas on Monday, when Sims flew to the United States for the first time accompanied by her family. They embraced in a warm hug captured on video, both appearing teary eyed. When asked by a reporter how she felt about the meeting, Frati pressed a tissue against her face and said, “a little overwhelmed.”
While Frati and Sims’ decades-long correspondence certainly gives the record books a run for their money, it’s just three years shy of the official Guiness World Record for the longest mail correspondence ever. That title is currently shared between two groups of female friends from American and Great Britain, who wrote to each other for 77 years. According to the Newcastle Herald, another set of pen pals, 91-year-olds Nellie Roberts and Daphne Beech are also vying for the record.