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Pen pals from UK and US still in touch after both turned 100. They started writing letters in their 20s

'She's a very interesting person. We exchange stories and she's very good to talk to,' he revealed.

Pen pals from UK and US still in touch after both turned 100. They started writing letters in their 20s
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Tetra Images

In the age of WhatsApp and Zoom calls, communication has become fast and instant. However, the thoughtfulness behind writing letters and waiting days for a friend's reply - are some sweet memories that some generations still carry fondly. One such friendship is the one between Geoff Banks, from Devon in England, and Celesta Byrne from America, who started writing to each other in 1938. 84 years later, their communication is still going strong.

The pen pals started writing to each other when they were in their 20s as part of an educational project to put British and American students in contact. Even after the project came to an end, they continued writing to each other. They also moved to emails from letters with their children's help and now they are using video calls to stay in touch. They met each other in 2002 when Banks came to New York. According to BBC, Banks shared that it is a "source of great satisfaction to write to her for over all these years."

He added, "She's a very interesting person. We exchange stories and she's very good to talk to." When asked if their friendship ever turned into a romance between two, Byrne denied it. "No, we're just friends, like people who live next door," she said. "You ask how they're doing, you say a few words and then you both go to work. There wasn't 'glibbily globbally' stuff, it was just normal neighbor people."


In a similar story of unlikely friendships withstanding the test of time, in 2016, a grandma messaged and invited a 17-year-old to Thanksgiving dinner by mistake. Wanda Dench thought it was messaging her grandchild but instead reached a youngster named Jamal Hinton. He soon clarified that she was not his grandmother but asked if he could still get a plate. She replied, "Of course, you can. That's what grandmas do... feed everyone." They first met in Mesa, Arizona, for a Thanksgiving meal. And since then for the past seven years, the two have been keeping the tradition alive. They met for a Thanksgiving meal this year as well.


Even in 2020, when everyone was dealing with the pandemic, the two found a pandemic-friendly way to celebrate the holiday. However, it was a bittersweet affair for them as Dench's husband, Lonnie, died earlier that spring due to complications caused by COVID-19. After Lonnie passed away, Hinton posted on social media: "Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that."

A week later, he posted a video of himself having dinner with the couple and wrote, "We miss you, Lonnie." Dench believes fate intervened when she sent the unintentional text messages years ago. "Jamal taught me that age made absolutely no difference. I love all of my grandkids and kids, but we all are different generations, and we all reminisce about different things," she said. "But when Jamal came along, my husband and I and him and his girlfriend, we would go out to dinner throughout the year together and we would just lose all track of time." Dench shared that one time they all were sitting in a restaurant talking for hours and she "couldn't believe we were there that long." 

That's when she realized that there does not need to be a "generation gap" to have friendships. Dench said, "So now I look at a lot of young people in a different light than I used to and I make it a point to talk and get to know them," she added. "He's changed my life a lot, I know that."

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