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Letters to France Olive

By LC Van Savage

September 14th, 1951

Dear France Olive: Thank you for agreeing to be my pen pal. Iíve never corresponded with anyone in Europe before and Iím very excited to do this. Werenít our teachers really cool to connect us?

    I am most thankful to you for agreeing to speak English. I know only a little French. Iím studying it though. I hope I can learn it really well. Maybe I can learn a few words from you, France.
    I canít wait to hear back from you. It takes a while for letters to go from France to New York, but letís try to send a letter once a month. And Iíll send you a photo of me if youíll send one of you, OK? Weíre both the same age Ė 13.
    One thing I do want to ask you is this; is it customary in France to name newborn babies after their country? Your first name is France. Imagine if my name was America!
    Well, I have to study now, France. I canít wait to get a pen pal letter from you.
    Martha Scott

November 20th, 1951

Hello again France Olive: I was so excited to get a letter from you today, and your photo too. Thank you for writing! How pretty you are. Iím not nearly as pretty as you are, France, but Iíll send you my photo too as soon as my father takes it and gets the film developed. Iím so happy we can be friends. I have a few friends --- do you too?

    Do you play a lot of sports? I donít. Itís not that I donít like sports---I just donít get much opportunity to play them.
    Iíd really rather read or paint pictures or write stories. I love stories. Do you? Iíd rather hear a story than to do almost anything else.
    Well Ė back to my studies. Please do write again soon. Next letter from me will have my photo enclosed.
    Martha

January 3rd, 1952óHello again France.

    Oh my, it seems we have so much in common. You too donít get to do sports too often? Or get to the movies as often as youíd like?
    And you love stories too? Gosh, it feels as if weíre already old friends.
    As promised, I enclose a recent photo of myself---just head and shoulders like your picture is. Iím about 5í 5Ē tall when I stand up. What about you? We have the same color eyes but your hair is so light and mine so dark. Do you set yours in curlers every night? Me too!
    Do you have a dog? I do. Her name is Abigail and I love her very much. We are together all the time. She is my very best friend in all the world and she helps me so much. I canít imagine my life without her. c Write soon again France, OK?
    Martha S.

March 12, 1952 Ė Hi again France!

    You think Iím pretty? You do? Really? And your dog Juliette is with you every minute too? Thatís wonderful. Juliette is such a pretty name. I think Abigail and Juliette could be good pals the way we are, do you think so too?
    Do you train Juliette to do things for you? Abigail does a lot of things for me, too. Arenít we lucky to have such sweet, clever dogs!
    How I wish we could actually meet someday but, well, I guess itíll never happen, but we can stay good pen pals, right? Keep writing to me France. I look forward to your letters so much.

April 27th, 1952

    Hi France!
    I just canít believe this! I canít! I finally told you my ďbig secretĒ in my last letter and I was so surprised to find out we both have the exact same problem. I donít think our teachers knew this when they put us together as pen pals, do you?
    Well it doesnít matter. Now I know we will be friends for life for lots of reasons, but especially because weíre both in wheelchairs! I am so happy you are my pen pal and my new friend, France Olive.
    Keep Writing. So will I!! Merci beaucoup!
    Martha.


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