Pen pals or pen friends are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via the post and was a practice way before the age of the Internet.
I gave a letter to the postman,
He put it his sack.
Bright and early next morning,
He brought my letter back.
Elvis Presley's 1962 hit, Return To Sender, with its unique postal theme reminded me of those years when, as a teen, I used to write to people in foreign lands. You waited a whole month before you received a reply. Then if you're lucky and when you get one, it was an envelope all thick, with 10 pages of light-blue paper inside and a photograph of the writer tucked neatly between the sheets.
The envelope itself was bursting at its seams. You felt the tension as you gingerly opened the envelope, feeling for the photograph and reading revelations of your new pal from this far-off land.
"Gosh, what a pretty girl!" you exclaimed, looking at the photograph sent.
On the other hand, if you were unlucky, and like Elvis Presley (above) you got your letter back stamped with the phrase, Return To Sender on the envelope. And that was a big let-down for a teen.
Writing to strangers was the rage in Singapore in the 60s especially when popular magazines like Movie News, Her World and local newspapers like the Radio Weekly had pages with a Pen Pals Column listing names of people, both males and females with their full addresses in print. The fun part was these requests for pals came from all over the world. And the Internet wasn't even born yet!
The hobbies were always about the same, i.e. stamp, coin and record collecting, sports indulgences like badminton or table-tennis and the inevitable, listening to music. Some of these individuals had requests for a personal photograph or postcards of your home country.
Then there was the final ritual of putting the sheets of paper into the envelope, the glueing of the flap and the final lickin' and stickin' of the stamp on the top right hand corner (emphasised) of the envelope.
A run to the nearest post-box sealed the deal and you waited anxiously for the next 30 days for a reply.
Did you have pen-pals? Come on, tell us.
You Tube Video.
Songwriters: Scott, Fitzgerald / Obika, Lemar Return To Sender lyrics © EMI Music Publishing.
Images from Google.
Slip Note: (April 17th 2014)
"RETURN TO SENDER - An Exhibition” where Elvis Presley fans can view stamps and collectibles associated with the King. It is on at the Singapore Philatelic Museum at 23 Coleman Street.
The exhibition is named after one of his most popular songs. Some stamps feature the singer himself and date back to the 1970's and coming from countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands.
Courtesy of a Singapore collector who has amassed thousands of Elvis memorabilia, a key item includes an original US$1,000 note signed by Presley.