Pat Broge of Gratiot and Angie Scales from Perth, Australia, who have been pen pals since they were about 12 or 13 years old, finally met in person for the first time recently after more than 40 years of writing to each other from different sides of the world.
Broge said she doesn’t even remember how they first became pen pals, saying it might have been through the Girl Scouts. They’ve managed to stay in contact though the years and even sent gifts back and forth on special occasions such as weddings and the birth of new babies.
The pair did briefly lose contact with each other for approximately a two-year period. But then thanks to the wonders of modern technology and networking, they were able to reconnect through the social networking site, facebook.
Since then Broge and Scales have taken advantage of video chat through skype, which allows them to actually see each other, as well as family members and friends. Broge said her granddaughters love to say hello to Scales when they are skyping.
According to Broge, it had always been a dream of the pen pals to someday meet in person, but then last year, plans to actually make that happen started to form. Scales, who had never been outside of Australia before, decided to travel to the United States to visit her fiancé, Tim Minor, in San Diego, Calif. and make a stop in Wisconsin to finally meet Broge during the trip as well.
When Scales first stepped off the plane in Chicago before flying on to Madison, she was wearing high-heeled boots and a zip up sweater. To her dismay, she soon found that those items are not very practical for February in the Midwest. Scales was shocked by the cold weather, saying she knew it was going to be cold, but not as cold as it actually was.
Broge was a bit nervous to finally meet Scales. “I had butterflies,” she admitted. Broge said she just wasn’t sure how they were going to entertain each other when they were actually together as opposed to just writing or talking on skype. But things turned out fine and the friends learned new things about each other, like the fact that Scales is a strict vegetarian, which Broge had not known before.
Scales stayed with Broge for four days, during which they drove through the area and visited the different towns such as Darlington and Shullsburg. After getting over the initial shock of driving on the right side of the road, Scales was amazed at how small the communities were and how far they had to drive to get from town to town.
Broge said they didn’t get to do too much traveling or shopping as the weather wasn’t the best, but that Scales was able to collect a few souvenirs nonetheless. During the trips around the community, Scales mentioned that there was a similarity between driving on sand in Australia and driving on the snow and ice here.
A few things that seemed different or odd to Scales as an Australian native were the amount of cheese that was on a lot of the food in Wisconsin, the different type of housing in the United States, the number of people that smoked, as well as how intense the cold really can be in the Midwest.
Scales is planning to move to San Diego with her fiancé within six months, so after that it will be much easier for Broge and Scales to see each other more often.