Friendship across the miles from USA to Bo’ness

Not even the march of time and the width of the Atlantic Ocean can stem a touching friendship that has flourished for a grand total of 65 years!

And that’s what Bo’ness woman Christine Smellie (79) enjoys with a teenage penpal, Shirley Severhof (77), who hails all the way from the American Midwest.

Shirley and her husband Skeeter have jetted in from Cincinnati and are relishing the chance to spend time with Christine at her home in Wotherspoon Drive.

The Falkirk Herald caught up with these lifelong friends shortly before they were set to visit the Kelpies – on what is their fourth meeting on a face- to-face basis.

And it quickly became clear that the duo’s bond is unbreakable.

Christine said: “We are so similar – it is unbelievable. We have always just found it so easy to talk to each other.”

The similarities don’t end there as both married on the same day – and have two children each.

Christine explained “I first wrote to Shirley after a friend brought in a list of penpals to Bo’ness Academy and I just picked out her name.

“At first we just talked about our families, what we were doing and the letters would take two weeks to 
arrive.

“I couldn’t have known at that point that our friendship would last as long as it has done.

“It’s been a big part of my life.

“From 1991 we started phoning one another because that was easier – we always keep in touch.”

The pair first met in person when Skeeter arranged for Christine and her late husband Jack to attend Shirley’s 50th birthday party as a 
surprise.

Their appearance was the grand finale in an This Is Your Life-style saunter down memory lane.

Not surprisingly, it went down a storm as these dear friends of such long standing were first able to throw their arms round one another for the very first time.

Shirley said: “When I met Christine it was just as if someone had moved in next door to me. We talk – and I would feel anxious if we didn’t.

“Everyone in my family has met Christine. Our families too have got to know one another. It’s just wonderful.”

Shirley and Skeeter are all set to return to the lights of Cinncinati when they fly back to the States this week but not before these lifelong friends discuss just when they can next meet up again.