Linda Martin and Wendy Norrie have been writing to each other for 55 years, ever since Norrie's fourth-grade teacher started a pen pal project in 1958. On Monday, they met for the first time. Norrie, who lives in Australia, mentioned in a recent letter to Martin that she was planning to take her first trip to the US and hoped they could visit. Martin responded by inviting Norrie to stay with her in Arizona for two weeks. "The response I got just blew me away," Norrie tells the Arizona Republic. "I was completely flabbergasted."
For the first time, the women exchanged email addresses so they could make plans more quickly. All their previous communication had been via snail mail; as kids, they wrote every few months, as adults they exchanged annual Christmas letters and birthday gifts. "I wasn’t in it to make great history. It was just to create friendship with somebody on the other side of the world and compare lifestyles and that sort of thing," Norrie says. Both women said they were excited, and a little nervous, to meet. "It was very emotional to us," says Martin, who plans to visit Australia in 2015. "I cried, and she cried."