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Long-lost friends reunite 75 years after meeting as young girls on a ship sailing for America

'Yolanda was the face and name that was synonymous with my transition from one life to another,' said Lena.

Long-lost friends reunite 75 years after meeting as young girls on a ship sailing for America
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/jacoblund

Some people leave such a distinct mark on our lives that we never forget them no matter how long it's been since we've spoken to them or for how short a period we actually knew them. Finally when—and if—we reunite with them, it often feels as though no time has passed and we pick up right where we left off. This is exactly what happened when immigrants Lena and Yolanda reunited 75 years after they first met as young girls during a 14-day ocean crossing.

According to Good News Network, the duo was emigrating with their Italian families to the United States in April of 1947 when they met aboard the Saturnia, a ship sailing toward America's Ellis Island. Lena and Yolanda became such good friends on the journey that decades later, when Lena's youngest son Steve began researching their transatlantic voyage, she immediately remembered the name of her sailing buddy. During his attempts to learn more about his mother's journey from Italy to America, Steve uncovered the actual ship's manifest online which proved to be a major help when it came to tracking the whereabouts of Lena's friend who had remained a memory frozen in time all her life.


While Lena left her hometown of Pallagorio with her family at the age of 10, Yolanda was 9 when she left her home in Belmonte. Before leaving for the United States, the pair had lived just 2.5 hours away from each other. Determined to reunite his mother with her long-lost friend, who, if alive, would be 84 years old today, Steve diligently pursued every lead he got. He eventually managed to track her down and found that not only was Yolanda thriving, she still lived just 2.5 hours away from her childhood friend.

Steve managed to get his hands on Yolanda’s phone number and left a message on her answering machine explaining that her childhood sailing buddy wanted to get in touch with her. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and other obstacles delayed the reunion, a time and date were finally set for this year. Yolanda's son Rich drove his mom across state lines from her home in Weirton, West Virginia, to Lena's house in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where the two friends reunited at the front door with tears of joy. "They were celebrating a momentary friendship that has lasted a lifetime," said Tony. 


Finally reunited, the pair reminisced about the memories of their voyage—which included feelings of wonderment and trepidation of what the New World would be like—and also packed in as many stories of their adult lives as possible within a short afternoon lunch. "Yolanda was the face and name that was synonymous with my transition from one life to another," Lena said. "For that reason alone, I could never forget her. Now that we've been reunited, I am even more grateful to call her my friend and to have had the chance to share our stories." The 75-year reunion was such a success that the women decided to meet again in a few months, hoping for more precious time together.

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