After writing to each other for nearly four decades, cross-country pen pals Sandi Fisher and Beth Graham finally met earlier this month.
It was their first time meeting face-to-face since they started sending each other letters in the late 70s.
“You’re so short!” Fisher told Graham during the long-awaited encounter, according to a video from Love What Matters.
Fisher later explained to INSIDE EDITION: “I actually found a letter where she told me that she’s short many years ago. I must have just forgotten that!”
Fisher, a criminalist from Bennett, Colorado, has been exchanging letters with Graham, from Middletown, Pennsylvania, since they were kids.
The pair “met” when Fisher was in the 4th grade, and Graham was in the 5th, through Big Blue Marble, a children’s television show that ran through the 70s and 80s.
One year after Beth Graham, 6th grade, and Sandi Fisher, 5th grade, began writing letters to each other. (Courtesy of Beth Graham and Sandi Fisher)
Fisher recalled watching episodes that spotlighted different cultures and people around the world. Children often sent letters to the show, requesting a pen pal.
“Are they even going to speak English? Maybe they’re from Japan, or Mexico, or Canada,” Fisher remembered wondering as she sent in a request. “I was actually disappointed when [my pen pal] was from Pennsylvania. Not exactly what I was hoping in my little 9-year-old brain!"
But they hit it off and continued to write to each other as they grew. While they mostly corresponded through letters, Graham remembered the first time they spoke on the phone as teenagers. While working at a boat club, Graham snuck away with can of change she had taken from her dad, and called Fisher from a payphone.
Beth Graham calls Sandi Fisher for the first time in their teens. (Courtesy of Beth Graham)
“Back then, it was long distance so it was expensive,” Graham recalled. Regardless, “I kept feeding the phone to talk to her.”
“She made a comment [in her next letter] about how the conversation didn’t last very long, so we would be better off writing.” Graham said, “[The phone call] must not have gone well.”
“Due to shyness!” Fisher laughed. “Growing up, I had a really hard time having even small talk with people, so I would imagine that was very difficult for me from my end.”
Fisher and Graham had been talking about visiting each other since they were teenagers in the 80s.
“We had ambition and that dream of meeting each other, but we were kids and we had no money,” Graham explained. “And you get to your 40s and life starts to change again.”
“Life gets in the way,” Fisher agreed. But as coincidence would have it, her husband was visiting family in a town near to Graham's home, so she decided to join him.
When Fisher finally decided on a date, Graham said she burst into tears. “I was at work,” she laughed.
"I got worried that she wouldn’t like me," she said, adding that even though she knew they were friends through letters, she was worried that Fisher would change her mind in person.
Sandi Fisher's letter to Beth Graham in 1978. (Courtesy of Beth Graham)
Fisher admitted that she, too, was incredibly emotional in anticipation of their meeting. She recalled bawling as their car approached their meeting place but she got out to walk to Graham before her husband stopped the car.
Graham said she was a little surprised during their first encounter. “When I heard her voice, the first thing I said was, ‘You have an accent!’ I didn’t anticipate an accent.” Graham laughed.
"When we first saw each other, I kept putting my hands on her face because I couldn't believe that she was in front of me!"
They agreed during their 5-hour meeting that they would write each other a letter about their experience finally meeting each other. They also promised they would wait until they were both done writing before they would mail the letters. Earlier today, Fisher sent out her letter.
Beth Graham's letter to Sandi Fisher in 1983. (Courtesy of Sandi Fisher)
“[My letter] was about how emotional [the meeting] was, and how wonderful it was to meet her,” Fisher said, as she teared up. “It is different to be in the same room with someone than it is just writing letters because we’ve never actually experienced that physicalness before.”
Graham said: ”I went through the years thinking about when we were kids, we had all these dreams, but she went on to school and I went on to have my daughter. I had to give up [writing about that], because I was bawling the whole time. So I came back and wrote about my favorite actor, and my favorite bands, and all my favorite things because that’s what we used to write about.”