Living Between the Lines

A Right Royal Coup…

All Because of…Princess Tina…

Well, on the scale of things, this bit of news is unimportant but, to me, it is quite remarkable. A while ago, I wrote a post called, ‘All Because of Bunty’, believing that this esteemed comic had been responsible for securing me a Pen Friend in America, when I was eleven years old.
Not so!
Yesterday, my dear pen friend, Kate, with whom I have kept in touch for not quite 50 years, sent me a photograph of a piece of paper her siblings had unearthed in their mother’s house. Clearly, it is the scribbled submission I sent to the comic all those years ago.
Looking at it, I now remember the instructions were to fill in the form provided in the comic, cut it out and include, on a separate sheet of paper, my name, age and my address. It was important to put the name of the publication I had found the advert in, at the top of the page. (I took this literally and it is barely on the page) This piece of paper was then sealed in an envelope with the form and mailed across the sea to an American organisation.
The name of the comic at the top edge of the paper is, ‘Princess Tina’.

Princess Tina
Princess Tina

This was February, 1968. Coincidentally, my eldest sister and I have been discussing that very year, this week. It was one in which we lost a number of elderly relatives. Indeed, five great aunts and one grandfather, died within weeks of one another, between January and April. I spent a large proportion of weekends, sitting in the car outside a hospital, with my brother and sister, while my parents visited sick relatives. To me, it seemed we were there every weekend. It must have been a stressful time for my parents. We were quite a close family.
Listening to Tom Jones bellowing out, “The Green, Green Grass of Home,” we passed the time as best we could. We used the AA road book to amuse ourselves, looking up strange sounding place names.
“Pity Me,” “Nether Wallop,” etc. to name but two.
Princess Tina, was a magazine for girls a little too young for the teen mags but too old for childish pastimes. It had launched the previous year following a merger of Tina and Princess. I remember it mostly for the fake diamond rings it gave away. I soon moved on to Jackie.
However, I remember it providing the perfect refuge from all the doom and gloom around me and spotting the advert inviting me to apply for a pen friend, I was excited.
I would have told my mother but she was probably otherwise engaged and besides, I had a feeling she might tell me I was being silly to think of it. A little embarrassed, I found a piece of writing paper and wrote the missive you see here. (The post code must have been added at a later date as they did not exist in 1968).
Pen friend Request
Finding Kathy
Begging a stamp from my mother, I posted it. Of course, in those days, without an airmail stamp, communication to America could take weeks. I hoped to hear something but I told no one in case it all came to nothing.
Imagine my delight and shock when an airmail letter, written on that flimsy, red and blue edged paper, landed on my doormat. The letter was from Kathy (Kate), an eleven year old girl from Minnesota. The rest, is history.
However, I just had to redress the balance and apologise because clearly, I do not owe it all to Bunty, Princess Tina can take all the credit.
A right Royal coup!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • patricia60

    I tried so many times to engage a pen pal but never connected with the comic tries. Then a friend connected me to a girl in Japan. Who wished to improve her English. For 5 years we wrote. I love to write letters. We have long ago lost touch. 5 of our 8 exchange students were from Japan

    • Debbie

      Patricia, I had two other pen friends, one in Holland and one who lived only a few miles from me, in East Ham. Neither friendships stayed the course but this one still goes on. We have graduated from writing snail mail, to email, to Facebook. Such is progress! To think her Mom kept that piece of paper all those years, amazing 🙂

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – what an amazing find … and so nostalgic – I flunked with pen friends … but yours worked. I’m afraid the only time we sat in car waiting for my parents was outside the pub!! With bags of crisps, a blue salt packet, and some (for me) cherryade …

    How extraordinary that a return missive did turn up – what wonderful news for you …

    Then Princess Tina making it all happen … and wonders you and Kathy have kept in touch … such a great post – Memories … cheers Hilary

    • Debbie

      Extraordinary is the word Hilary. Considering how much we have moved around since then, it is a minor miracle and thanks in part to the internet. I love it when one small thing sparks another memory and that piece of paper brought everything back to me in sharp relief. 🙂

  • Teresa

    I don’t remember Princess Tina at all, but I was comic mad so I must have read it and I think I do remember Tina. I think it’s wonderful you’re still in touch with Kate. I’m afraid I lost touch with all my penfriends which is such a shame.

    • Debbie

      I too had forgotten all about it until Kate sent me this image, Teresa. I clearly recall Tina, and I remember feeling a little put out that it had merged with Princess. It is pretty amazing that Kate and I have kept in touch but I am very grateful we have. I still have very one of her letters too, in a box upstairs. 🙂

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