Speed Reads

friends for life

After 70 years, transatlantic pen pals are still going strong

More than 70 years after 11-year-old Frankie Gentry and 12-year-old Millie Rice first became pen pals, the two are still exchanging letters — except these days, more are coming via email, not air mail.

The friendship started after a man visited Gentry's classroom in England and asked if any of the students would like an American pen pal. Just a few weeks later, correspondence from Rice arrived, and soon their letters began crisscrossing the Atlantic. "We're probably better than sisters in a way, because sisters fall out," Gentry said. Mills added, "Yeah, we're too far apart to do that."

During World War II, the government censors cut out parts of their letters, and at one point they sent each other locks of hair to compare colors. They met for the first time in 1979, and have visited each other several times since then; right now, Gentry is staying with Rice in her St. Cloud, Minnesota, home for three weeks.

The pair have been having fun looking back at those early notes; at one point, Rice wrote, "We use electricity for our lights, radio, toaster and waffle irons, wash machine, and so forth." Today, she scoffs, "As if she didn't have electricity!" Watch Rice and Gentry reminisce at KSDK News 5.