H-SANTA MARIA

Apr 24, 2013 9:01 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Two women, pen pals since childhood, meet on the Central Coast

A Girl Scout project started thousands of miles away created a life-long friendship and after seven decades will be honored.

Joan Wiley and Margaret Pring started writing letters to each other when they were just 11 and 12 years old. One lived in Chicago, the other in England.

This week, Margaret flew from England to the Central Coast to celebrate Joan's 80th birthday and be recognized for keeping their Girl Scout project alive after all these years.

These former Girl Scouts have been pen pals longer than the Queen of England has been on the throne and Joan and Margaret say even though they always lived in different countries, it was because of the Girl Scouts that they are best friends.

It was an unlikely friendship. They were two girls from different sides of the world, but a Girl Scout project and hundreds of frail letters, family photos and Christmas cards created a bond that has survived for 70 years.

"She's my best friend. As you can tell, I don't have any trouble talking," said Wiley.

Joan was 11-years-old when she wrote her first letter to her pen pal, Margaret, and now on her 80th birthday is sharing her collection of memories.

"I can't believe they are here," said Wiley.

They agree that time has flown by.

"That's my writing," said Pring.

"Look how cheap it was then. One shilling," said Wiley. She says her pen pal has been there through it all.

"You figure we went through high school graduations, weddings, babies, baby showers and everything," said Wiley.

When the rest of the world was ending a war, these woman created a bond that lives out their Girl Scout pledge.

"It was very important to have the camaraderie from a group of females together. We did things as a group," said Wiley.

Joan felt it was only appropriate to thank the Girl Scouts for the way she found her best friend so long ago.

"As an example of how the value and friendships made through scouting can remain throughout one's life thereafter," said Wiley.

A regional representative from the local Girl Scouts and a Girl Scout troop will be meeting with Joan and Margaret to award them with a certificate for supporting a Girl Scout project for all these years.

The Girl Scouts still have a pen pal program today where members can earn a badge by keeping up a long-distance correspondence.

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