Pen buddies Gloria Bruce and Shirley Clements spent 70 years exchanging letters


Gloria Bruce and Shirley Clements weren’t alleged to be pen buddies.

Their 70-year correspondence resulted from a cheerful accident in 1953. Bruce wrote to a British woman, who determined to commerce letters with a good friend so every would have extra in frequent together with her match.

Now Bruce and Clements’s friendship has spanned about 700 letters, two continents and quite a few adventures in England and Louisiana and on 5 cruises around the globe. The pair, each 81, have transitioned from writing to calling, emailing and texting as expertise has developed.

On Sunday, the duo rode on a float in a St. Patrick’s Day parade simply outdoors New Orleans — an exercise they selected as a result of it was one of many few native occasions they’d not already carried out collectively.

“We’re similar to two little kids,” Bruce stated as they ready for the celebration. “We’ve been laughing since she got here right here.”

The ladies’s distinctive friendship, previously reported by New Orleans-based television station WWL-TV, started once they have been in elementary college — Bruce in New Orleans and Clements in Batley, England. Considered one of Bruce’s classmates had a British pen pal, and a few of that woman’s mates wished writing buddies of their very own.

Bruce, 11, volunteered and wrote to a woman named Susan. However she stated when she acquired a letter again, it was from Clements.

Regardless of — Bruce and Clements had lots in frequent. Each beloved to learn and picked up stamps. Each had discovered to embroider from their moms. Their birthdays have been 10 days aside.

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As they acquired older, their similarities deepened. The ladies each had kids, and each of their first husbands died. They even have related builds, which Clements stated made it simple for her to borrow a nightgown as soon as when her baggage acquired misplaced in transit to New Orleans.

The ladies’s technique of connection modified with time, too. At first, they wrote lengthy letters and weighed the envelopes on the submit workplace earlier than sending them throughout the ocean. To trade Christmas presents, Bruce stated, they needed to mail the packages in November. They watched the clock throughout their first telephone name as a result of a couple of minutes value $35.

The duo lastly met in individual in 1985 when Clements, a biochemist, stopped in New Orleans after a convention in California. The cross-country flight was turbulent, Clements stated, and he or she puzzled whether or not she would survive to lastly lay eyes on her kindred spirit.

Bruce joked that Clements had one other motivation for coming to the Huge Straightforward: “She wished a few of our beignets, that’s what she wished,” Bruce stated, laughing.

As quickly as they met, their worries about whether or not they want one another in individual evaporated. They spent their go to going to the French Quarter and doing a crawfish boil with Bruce’s household. Their rapport, they stated, was simple.

“We acquired on like a home on hearth from the primary minute to now,” Clements stated.

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After that first go to, the chums noticed one another each time they may. Clements stopped in Louisiana after different work journeys. Bruce flew to Clements’s residence close to Manchester 3 times. They went on cruises within the Mediterranean, Baltic and Caribbean seas.

By the point Clements landed in New Orleans this month, it had been 12 years for the reason that girls had seen one another. Bruce ran to her within the airport, they usually embraced.

After 70 years of correspondence, the ladies contemplate themselves sisters and “two peas in a pod.” Bruce laughs at Clements’s use of British phrases. Clements marvels at how Bruce labored in her husband’s ironmongery store whereas elevating kids and serving as a Cub Scouts chief. They sympathize with one another by heartaches, Clements stated, and assist one another alongside the way in which.

However Bruce stated the true secret to their decades-long friendship is laughter.

“She’s enjoyable,” Bruce stated. “What can I say?”

Clements, in the meantime, attributes their endurance to the power of their bond.

“We’re simply great mates, and we love one another very a lot,” she stated. “And we hope to have the ability to maintain doing this for a few years.”

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