Pen pal keeps up with hundreds

A love for people has earned one East End resident correspondence with 315 pen friends from around the globe.

Florett Dixon

Florett shows of a miniature tea-set sent to her by one of her pen friends. Photos: Jewel Levy

Even though her hobby is very costly, housewife Florett Dixon said it is what she loves and to her the money spent is not important.

Racking up a postal bill of over $600 in one mailing list, Florett has pen pals from as far as Russia.

She said it all started one day at work. ‘One of my co-workers who has a pen friend in England sent her a friendship book. She wrote my name in the book and I started receiving lots of letters.

‘The first time I went to the mail box I received something like 40 letters.

‘It is a hobby I have nurtured for the past 28 years. What is so exciting about the whole letter writing, is that it gives me the opportunity to learn about people, their culture and the geography of the different countries,’ said Florett who has two daughters, Cassandra and Dilleen, and husband Edwin.

In her collection of pen pals Florett said she has friends from Vanuatu Island. She does not even know where it is.

As close as Jamaica is to Cayman, Florett said she had three pen friends from Jamaica but had to discontinue the ties because every time she received a letter they were asking her for money. ‘I wrote them back and told them pen friendship is not about money. To write and beg for things is just not right. If a person wants to send another friend a gift, that is different. You thank them and send them back something. Because of that I just dropped all the pen friends I had in Jamaica.

‘I have friends from all over the world, in Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Barbados, the Bahamas, Bermuda, New York, San Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Belize, Colombia Aruba, Argentina, Paris, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Russia and many more,’ she said.

Even though these people speak different languages, Florett said all of her pen pals correspond with her in English.

Florett said she exchanges gifts with a lot of her pen pals. ‘I get some that want used stamps, fridge magnets, postcards, stones, spoons, tea-cups and miniature glasses. Even gel pens are exchanged.’ She said some parts of the world they do not get gel pens so they offer to exchange something for a pen.

‘My pen pals just give me a list of what they collect and it is up to me if I wish to send them something.

‘The friendship book, which started in Hungary, goes like this. If I am writing five letters for the night and you wanted to get a pen pal I would take your name and write it in the book and the first letter I write, I send the book to whoever writes me.’

Friendship Books are small booklets that are passed along from one person to another via postal mail.

Florett said pen pals are not only for housewives. A wide cross section of people involved in pen pal collection include professors, doctors, lawyers, judges, mayors and politicians.’

You can invite members to become your pen pal, and other members can invite you to become their pen pals.

You can send and receive letters with your pen pals.