Pen Pals for 7 Decades: Nona and Alice

Pen Pals for 70 Years: Alice and Nona


Today I want to share another pen pal story with you. I recently read about Nona and Alice, two pen pals who have been writing each other letters for more than half a century, in an article written by The Daily Mirror in the UK. The article was written in 2014, and it follows the story of two ladies, how they met, and where they are now (as of the date of the article).

Nona, in Sheffield, England and Alice, in Cincinnati, Ohio, first met when Nona responded to an ad in a publication called the Girl's Crystal Annual back in the 1940s. Now, because I am a paper freak and I wanted to peer inside a cover myself, I found this website which has 11 entire issues between 1944 and 1958 that you can read virtually. And because I am a geek and I want to share more about this, we're going to take the long way around.

This totally vintage. 200 page "magazine" harkens back to an older, simpler time. It was an annual publication, so it only printed once a year. Each issue featured a dozen or so adventure and mystery stories with strong and clever women as the main character, as well as puzzles, craft ideas, and sewing projects like the ones pictured below.

Pen Pal Story: old magazine page with sewing project instructions

This came from the 1945 issue (which you can read in its entirety by clicking the link), the earliest Crystal Annual available on

If you read the page above, you will notice how much stress was put on saving everything possible, which is something that's super important to me and my business! In today's world of fast fashion, we usually don't repair our clothes or try to give them new life. This article contains several ideas for making old or worn items last even longer, accenting pieces of clothing to make them more current, or making use of fabric scraps.

It reminds me of my motto: Make it last, wear it out, make it do or do without. My friend Saskia de Feijter has a similar motto: Buy less, buy better, get skilled, make more and make it last. She has a lovely podcast with loads of information about conscious fashion. It's called A Smaller Life, feel free to check it out if it interests you!

Make it last, wear it out, make it do or do without.

I loved finding this old publication and looking at it's pages. Coincidentally, it goes hand in hand with what I've been working on for the stationery shop lately: vintage stationery made from old sewing patterns. The collection is expected to release later this month, and I will have lots more recycled and upcycled paper goods in the future. Subscribe to the newsletter if you want to stay in the know about that!

Vintage paper notions by AM Art & Stationery


But besides the treat of discovering this lovely publication and getting a sneak peek into what life was like in the 1940s, we still have the story of the pen pals to get to! I've taken up a few minutes of your time already, so I'll get to the point.

We go back to our girls 81 years ago, before they knew each other. Somewhere in the pages of the Girls' Crystal Annual, was an ad for becoming a 12 year old girl's pen pal in Ohio. To another 12 year old girl who had never left her small English city, that seemed like another world. So Nona excitedly wrote and mailed a letter with a picture of herself enclosed, and a few weeks letter got the same back from Alice. 

81 years ago, Alice and Nona wrote their first letter

The girls wrote to each other regularly for years, talking about their social life, their studies, books and movies they liked, and swapping fashion magazines. As they got to their teens and older, they shared with each other in other milestones like new jobs, getting married, having kids, and more.

Handwritten letters went back and forth for forty years, and then the girls got to meet. Alice finally had enough spare money to afford the flight to Sheffield to meet her old pal in person in 1987.

The two report that they were a little nervous that it wouldn't be the same in person, but as you can imagine, they got on well with each other quickly. Alice finally got to meet the family members that she'd heard about in Nona's letters, her husband and kids.

After visiting, the letters continued, and a few years later Nona paid Alice a visit in Ohio. On that visit, Alice took Nona all the way to the original house where those early letters were written, 100 miles away. That was in 1991.

When the article was written in 2014, they were still corresponding every two weeks or so, and they were both in their mid-80's.

I wonder where they are now?
If you know anything about these two lovely gals, send AM Art & Stationery an email!

If you have a pen pal story to share, contact me! Email or fill out the contact form.


I hope you enjoyed this story and the journey back in time!

Keep writing and stay curious-

Xx, Alison

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