Longtime Pen Pals United

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Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan announced a special uniting of longtime pen pals, more than 50 years in the making.

Shirley Perriat and Eunice Jones

“All of this started because of working for that Pen Pal Badge in Girl Scouts!” said Shirley Perriatt of Rochester Hills. Perriatt, 70, was a 12-year-old Girl Scout in Toledo in 1957 when she decided to earn her Pen Pal badge.  Girl Scouts national headquarters in New York assigned her a Girl Guide pen pal—Eunice Jones, 69—who lived in South Wales, UK. Girl Guides are the European and Canadian sisters to Girl Scouts in America.

Periatt and Jones have remained pen pals for nearly six decades, first through letters, and then through emails sent to Eunice’s daughter since Eunice still lives in her small town with no Internet access. They have shared news about first jobs, marriages, births of children and Eunice’s battle with cancer in 1995, mostly via letters and cards. They had never met in person—until now.   Jones traveled from her village of Puntyberem in South Wales to America with her husband, Alan, this month to meet Perriatt.

The meeting was very exciting for both. Parriatt brought flowers, one of 18 bins of letters she has kept of their written exchanges, and a teddy bear that Jones had sent for her newborn son more than 40 years ago.   She also brought the Welsh doll that Jones had bought when her daughter was born.

Jones brought a Welsh doll and other items from home: Welsh towels, a gift for Perriatt’s grandchild and a pillow crafted by her friend in South Wales.

Perriat and Jones read over pen pal letters from the past.

The two looked through the memorabilia at their meeting, and fondly recalled the times that they spent in Girls Scouts and Girl Guides.  “I loved Girl Guides,” said Jones. “We used to go camping every year in different places. Through them, I got a great friend.”

Periatt was in Girl Scouts for 15 years, starting in Brownies. Jones was in Brownies and Girl Guides until the age of 15. In fact, Jones is still a volunteer with the Rainbows (ages 5-7) troop in her home town.  Periatt has kept her sash full of carefully sewn badges, all of the pen pal cards and letters from Jones and even her first Girl Scouts Handbook. “The letters I’ve kept are like a journal of my life,” she says. 

Both women hope to meet up again, next time in S. Wales. Perriatt says that such a trip is on her bucket list. Until then, the women will continue to be pen pals. “I never thought she wouldn’t be a part of my life,” said Perriatt. “I know she’ll always be there.”