It was 37 years ago that Yvette Fahey first wrote to a pen friend in Italy.
Yvette, 49, of Warabrook, is showing this pen friend – who has the beautiful Italian name of Rita Cannataro – the sights of the Hunter on her first trip to Australia.
“She’s somebody who I’ve had limited contact with and who’s on the other side of the world, but I find she’s my best friend,” Yvette said.
Yvette has had other pen friends, but they come and go.
Her strong connection with Rita was apparent from the very first letter.
Since then, there’s been loads of letters back and forth, along with presents on birthdays and at Christmas.
Having a pen friend was a window into another world and lifestyle, Yvette said.
She visited Rita a couple of times in the 1980s in her hometown of San Remo on the Italian Riviera.
“She turned 50 this year. Coming to Australia to see me was her dream present,” Yvette said.
When the pair reunited, there was a lot of emotion.
“It was fantastic,” Yvette said.
For Rita, it’s the holiday of a lifetime.
“She never thought in her life that she would come here,” Yvette said.
“When she wakes up in the morning, she doesn’t believe she’s here.
“She has three children. She misses them but she’s glad she’s here.”
Yvette first became pen friends with Rita through an organisation she heard about at school.
“You could pick any country in the world. Because my dad was Italian, I thought I might as well get one from there because I might get a chance to meet her one day,” Yvette said.
Despite the ubiquity of social media and email, the pair still write letters at Christmas and birthdays.
“It’s always best to get that letter in the mailbox,” Yvette said.
“It’s exciting. It’s more personal than an email, which could be from any Tom, Dick or Harry.”
Nowadays, the most common letters in people’s mailboxes are bills.
“Nobody writes a letter anymore. I’d be surprised if the kids know how,” Yvette said.
“I’m sure they’re not taught at school. They go on the internet and find randoms.”
Rita is staying in Australia for 16 days.
She leaves on December 22.
“I don’t really want her to go, but that’s life,” Yvette said.
“Rita is like family. She’s like my sister. We’re very close. I love her.”
Water Bomb Attack
Speers Point Public School principal Chris Payne is a sucker for punishment.
He agreed to be a water-bomb target to raise money for the Year 6 farewell.
The game was called “peg a principal”.
We were curious about how many water bombs were thrown at Chris. We were thinking no more than 20.
“It was 527 – with a few extra from staff and they weren't going easy on me either,” he said.
“Lots of fun – only a few minor bruises.”
You’re a brave man, Chris.
Relax everyone, he’s back.
The recent disappearance of Charlie the Chicken from Charlestown Toyota provoked widespread community concern, especially among the litt’luns.
Charlie has had a makeover and and he’s looking good.
“After a well deserved holiday (Hawaii, via Tahiti), Charlie is all refreshed and ready to help us give you some amazing deals,” Charlestown Toyota said on Facebook.
Did you see that? Nice little bit of marketing, wasn’t it? Guess that’s what Charlie’s for.