Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Pittsburgh

Keeping in Touch Through the Years

      It was late August 1941.  War raged in Europe.  Although our country had not yet been drawn into the conflict, the winds of war were blowing strongly.  A group of young women gathered one evening in the home of one of the members.  All were in their early twenties, and within the next three weeks, all would be far from this comfortable home in St. Paul, MN, where they had come for a farewell party before dispersing to begin new careers and, in some cases, new marriages. The uniqueness of the group lay in their very diversity.  From various sections of the city, they came together not because they were from the same neighborhood, or because they had met in high school, but because they were part of an active youth organization in a downtown church. 

     Because of the deep spiritual ties that bound them, these young women felt a strong urge to find a way to preserve their friendship, whatever changes the future might bring, wherever their careers or other circumstances might take them.  What they came up with to accomplish this was, in their own terminology, a "Round Robin" letter.  To start it, a list was established, with an order of progression.  Each person, as she received the letter from her predecessor, was to add her own letter, and forward it, along with all preceding letters to the next person on the list.  When it came around the next time, you were to remove your own previous letter, add a new one of your own, and send the letters on again.  Once started, there would be 14 letters going around.  The only rules were that you must send the letters on within two weeks after receiving them; and that if anyone violated that rule, she would be skipped on the next round.  (Needless to say, these rules were not strictly enforced, although we reminded ourselves and each other of them occasionally.)

     Despite the diversity of talents and professional achievements of the group members, the content of the letters was usually devoted to sharing news of travels, children (and later grandchildren), volunteer activities, and leisure pursuits (books we were reading, etc.)  But we all had a shared (though unexpressed) pride in each other's accomplishments.   One member of our group became a doctor; one was a social worker, three became teachers; two were writers, one a professional musician; one owned her own yarn shop; one became a missionary; two had church careers; one served in the military. 

     As a cross-section of American culture, Round Robin members had typical life experiences.  There were marriages and divorces, births and deaths, joys and sorrows.  Through all of it, we were there for each other, if only in spirit, because of our continuing circle of correspondence.  It became, for each of us, a kind of lifeline from past to present.

     More that 65 years have passed, and our Round Robin is still flying!   Only eight persons are currently keeping the letters going.  Those of us who are left are now in our mid-to-late eighties.  Little did we know what a precious thing we created that night in St. Paul; little could we imagine the life stories that would unfold within its pages.    Without the Round Robin, I would surely have lost touch with these dear friends of my youth.  It has been one of the real treasures of my life.  

Home    Featured Programs    Choose Local Area     Request Information
A JR Media Publication • www.jrmediallc.comSite Index