News - 70 Years of Letter-Writing Fosters First Class Friendships

70 Years of Letter-Writing Fosters First Class Friendships

By Carla Morris

Messaging via handwritten notes and a hand-stamped envelope may seem antiquated in this age of instant connectivity, but Juanita (Mooney ’50) Burge isn’t about to relinquish the pleasure of receiving personal correspondence in the mailbox.

Juanita Burge 2017She’s in good company, too.

Juanita and nine graduates from the Classes of 1948-51 remain connected through “round robin” letter writing. The “round” begins with a list of names and addresses. The first classmate on the list initiates the letter with personal news and sends it to the next correspondent. Correspondent #2 adds her news and sends both letters on to Correspondent #3. The collection grows letter by letter as it travels through the round of friends.

Juanita recalls that the core group of letter-writers started the “round” following graduation in 1950. That’s nearly 70 years of shared news about growing families, careers, moves, accomplishments, anniversaries and travel, not to mention joys and sorrows.

Big Brown Envelope

With the advent of email and Facebook, the friends have embraced new ways to stay connected, but they still keep the round robin going. Juanita looks forward to pulling the “big brown envelope” out of the mailbox and poring over the letters and photos it contains.

“I almost always write my letter and send it within a week,” she adds.

Making the Rounds

It takes quite a while for the envelope to make its round completely; Juanita may not see it for eight to ten months. Of course, there are times when it lays buried beneath a stack of papers on someone’s desk or countertop.

“I have only had [it] once in the last year and a half,” she says, adding that four of the letter-writers have died in the last four years, and two currently reside in assisted living arrangements.

“I may not see it again.”

A Fading Practice

Letter-writing may be a fading practice, but tendering collegiate friendships is not. Juanita Burge-GraduationJuanita's faithful friends were able to reunite in person twice at General Conferences of the Free Methodist Church and once in Michigan at the home of classmate and round robin correspondent Jean (Snyder ’51) Hendricks.

“College friendships have been more meaningful to me than high school friends and most family,” Juanita says. “Excluding only my sisters, I have so much more in common with those I went to college with. Maybe it’s maturity; we went through a lot together.”


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This story was published on August 21, 2017

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