Tina King had long forgotten about her childhood pen pal from the Philippines — until recently discovering the friend was now her aerobics instructor.
As a teenager in the 1970s, King, a Seattle resident, began writing to another teen named Helen Ladd, who lived in the Philippines.
“It was set up through our school as a way to help us expand our world and learn about different cultures,” Ladd recently told My Edmonds News, a Seattle-area site.
Over several years, the two exchanged photos, memorabilia and stories of their coming of age an ocean apart.
“It almost seems archaic today with the internet and social media,” said King. “We’d actually sit down, put pen to paper and write about our thoughts, dreams and activities.”
King and Ladd eventually stopped writing each other.
Ladd had another pen pal, however: a man who lived in Seattle. When their friendship became romantic, she decided to leave the Philippines to visit him, which set the stage for her and Ladd’s reunion.
“After years of corresponding with Tina I felt like I knew Seattle,” Ladd said.
Ladd married her pen pal and later became a water aerobics instructor at an athletic club in Edmonds, WA.
King signed up for that class because it fit her schedule.
While hosting a holiday gathering for her students, Ladd began a conversation with King and the two made the stunning realization that they were long-lost friends.
Ladd is now a believer in the “six degrees of separation” theory.
“It sure came true for us,” she said. “It’s like a miracle.”