South African man looking to connect with long-lost Lombard penpal
An ocean and 6,800 miles separated two friends, but they were able to overcome those challenges. now it’s not just the geographical distance separating them but also time — the two friends haven’t been in touch in more than 30 years.
Gordon Hersman, of Johannesburg, South Africa, estimates the year was about 1956 when he was a young teenager studying at a boy’s only boarding school. A common interest for Hersman and his peers was horsemanship, and he often read a British riding magazine. He saw an advertisement one day submitted by a young lady living in Lombard seeking a pen pal who shared her interest in horses and riding. the girl’s name was Lyn Cole.
the two began writing, and developed what Hersman describes as a fast friendship.
She wrote and educated him about American culture, lifestyles and politics. He shared the same information with her about his home country. Their correspondence began right in the middle of apartheid in South Africa.
In an email to the Lombard Spectator, Hersman recalls Cole’s stance on the South African social system.
"In politics she was adamant that she abhorred discrimination and South Africa’s apartheid,” he wrote. “She was fair and just and felt deeply that no one should be oppressed. I argued some of her ideas, but obviously she was right and I admired and respected her opinions and values.”
after Hersman and Cole graduated from their secondary schools, he attended the University of Pretoria in South Africa and she attended Roosevelt University in Chicago.
Cole would send him copies of the school’s student magazine and other publications focused on American culture.
the two friends kept in touch until about 1976, when they became older, more involved in their careers and gradually lost touch.
Hersman studied genetics and medicine, before becoming a surgeon. Today is he 70-years old, retired and married to a woman named Maeve.
He paints in oils and has written several plays. Although he keeps busy with his different hobbies, travels and entertaining with friends, he still wonders about his childhood friend from America, Lyn Cole.
Today, a different Lyn Cole works in Lombard and owns a flower shop, but Hersman is hopeful that someone in the village knows where his friend is now.
“if anyone knows the address of a former resident of Lombard [...] an old penfriend from South Africa would be much obliged if they would contact Lyn Cole and give her my email address, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org”