Local Pen Pals Exchange A Different Kind Of Letter | News


A few times a week two friends who live in different towns receive mail from each other. What they exchange are not letters, but limericks that tell about events in their lives or the world around them, that are immortalized on paper to share with each other. This exchange of limericks, written on postcards, are between two 80-something year old women. Judy lives in Coronado and Donna in Imperial Beach. They met during water aerobics classes at the Coronado Community Center before the pandemic started. Donna recalls meeting Judy, “I usually liked to be in the back row and do my thing, Judy was also in the back row… We struck up a conversation about Mexico. She is a former Spanish teacher and we have both been to the Yucatan peninsula. We mostly talked in the pool and every so often we’d meet for lunch,” recalled Donna. They also had other things in common – they are both native Californian’s, both have birthdays in August, love the town of Chetumal in Mexico and share an interest in limericks. “We both gravitated towards each other [at water aerobics],” Donna said. The exchange of postcards with limericks started about four or five years ago. “During the pandemic it was especially important to both of us, since nobody could visit, to send postcards. I felt them across the country [to other friends] and even to my husband at Fredericka Manor,” she recalled. Donna’s interest in limericks dates back to at least 10 years ago when she made a decision to post a limerick on her Facebook page every day. “Some were good, some were bad… I can see something and write a limerick about it… like a fruit fly. Sometimes I force myself to write to keep my mind going,” she said. The topics of the limericks vary in the exchange between the two friends. Recently Judy sent Donna a limerick about Hurricane Ian approaching Florida and another about the Del Mar races after Donna told her she had recently been there.

Donna moved to Imperial Beach 16 years ago. She grew up in Escondido and attended the University of California in Riverside. She graduated with a degree in zoology and worked in research. She also has a Master’s degree in nursing, a field she worked in for many years in various roles until her retirement from her in 2006.

How does she get the inspiration to write limericks? She explained she often gets an idea in her head and tries to write a limerick and works at it for a while. “It keeps me looking in the dictionary to get it right. If I can’t get a good rhyme I go to the rhyme zone,” she explained.

The two friends also speak on the phone often, and gravitate to the topic of families, but have not seen each other for a while. During her travels over the years, Donna picked up many postcards along the way from places like Mexico and England and that’s what she has used to write the limericks she sends to Judy. Sometimes Donna prints out a photo and glues it to a piece of paper and sends it an envelope. But mostly she uses the postcards from her travels de ella-which is also a way to cut down on her possessions de ella.

Judy has lived in Coronado for the past 50 years. She and her husband de ella recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. Judy grew up in Beverly Hills and went to Stanford University in Palo Alto and graduated with a degree in Spanish. She taught Spanish at Coronado High School Adult School and at Spreckels Center and later led tours to Mexico and Guatemala, a place she calls her favorite on earth. Judy ca n’t recall exactly how the limerick exchange started but ella recalls that after one of her trips de ella she sent a postcard to Donna about it as a limerick. She explained the limericks are always uplifting or funny. The limericks she has penned range from writing about Orange Avenue and and its pine trees rather than orange trees, about grains of sand and even the San Diego Padres. Sometimes they can also be of a personal nature. The two friends don’t sign their names on the postcards but only write their initials and Donna sometimes draws a smiling face with curly hair to represent herself.

Judy explains that writing limericks is kind of a challenge. “It’s like people addicted to crossword puzzles… it’s fun I enjoy it,” she said.

Judy explained the rules of limericks – the poem has to have five lines, with the first, second and fifth ending in similar rhyming words, and the same goes for the third and fourth lines. Judy shared a limerick that she was ready to send to Donna recently:

“As poets, we valiantly strive

To bring worlds of subjects alive,

Limericks follow each rule

That we learned back in school

So we limit the lines to just five”

This is a limerick sent from Donna to Judy:

“A rainbow fragment as day descends

Welcome rain and sun blend

Into gay and bright

Our evening light

This prism of an arc that blends…”

Just like Donna, Judy has a stash of postcards from her trips she uses for her correspondence. “Some I picked up in Mexico and some have the recipes for Salsa Mexicana,” she explained.

The two friends plan to continue writing limericks to each other. “It makes it fun to send it to someone who will appreciate it,” said Donna.

Vol. 38, No. 40 – Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022

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