Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Video Pen Pals

I can't remember how it started or from where the idea came, but in the past I had a video pen pal and it was one of the greatest things I ever did. Prior to that advancement in technology for me, I'd always had snail mail pen pals. At one point I had more than eighty at one time. This was before the internet and email became such a way of life. I would never be able to handle snail mail pen pals after using email now for more than ten years.

After writing for a few years, I discovered that having cassette tape pen pals was a great hobby and I poured a lot of energy into that. I could hear my pen pals talking to me and a verbal letter was always so much better. I used regular cassettes and then moved to the micro cassettes after a while. I could play music for my friends and even take them along to places I went if I wanted to do that.

It was after enjoying taped letters so much that the idea hit me . . . if a cassette letter was so great, why not turn it into a videotaped letter to add the element of vision to the audio tapes? By that time, I had been down to about 10 or 15 pen pals, so I decided to ask them if anyone liked the idea. As it turned out, no one else had a camcorder, so I decided I needed to give up the idea although it still sounded very exciting.

In about a week I got a regular paper letter from a dear pen friend at the other end of the country. She said she had bought a camcorder and was in the process of making a movie for me. I have to say that it was a spectacular idea and we both enjoyed it for quite a while.

I immediately started making a "home movie" for her, too. I was not sure at the time what I would tape to fill the VHS, but it didn't take long for me to answer that. I showed her around my town and then drove to where I grew up. I even took the camera to my parents' home to introduce them to my friend.

My daughter was a new reader at the time so she read to "Mom's friend who would be seeing the movie soon" and played the keyboard while I recorded her. I never ran out of things to show her from a recipe I was cooking to planting my garden and then recording the growing progress. I even got clever one time and recorded the television as I was playing some previous movies I'd taken.

When I received the first video she made for me, I was delighted to find that she had done much of the same. She showed me around her town, introduced me to her family, and took the camera to back yard cookouts and family birthday parties.

If it is possible for you or your family, it will be a memorable experience to exchange video movies with a friend or family member far away.

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