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Pen pals meet for the second time in 40 years

By Annette Aubinger

ASHWAUBENON – Today there are emails, Facebook, cell phones and texting.

But for two friends paper and pencils are the way to communicate.

Amy Brauer, 5K teacher at Cormier School and Dorothy Shetley, Choctow, Oklahoma became pen pals 40 years ago.

Forty years later Shetley had it on her bucket list to visit Brauer and she made her way to Wisconsin and Cormier School.

Letter writing may be a thing of the past, but not for Shetley and Brauer.

They connected up when they were 10 years old through a Modern Woodman Insurance magazine.

Brauer’s mother put her name in the magazine so she could connect up with a pen pal.

Shetley stated, “I was bored one summer and my mother pointed out the pen pal section in the magazine. I saw Brauer’s name and we picked each other because our birthdays are one week apart in October.”

They have been friends through letter writing ever since.

Brauer and Shetley shared experiences throughout their early years when writing to each other.

After high school both went to college.

Shetley wanted a career in dentistry and realized that was not for her. Both chose education as a career.

They continued to communicate throughout college and after.

The bond remained with them as they continued to write. They have many things in common.

Both grew up in small towns. Both fathers died of cancer. Both chose education. Both have one son. Both are PreK-2 teacher certified. Both during their careers moved into a new building. The football teams from their school district moved them.

At work Shetley’s extension is 105. Brauer’s room number is 105.

The first time they spoke on the phone was in 1996. Brauer and her husband were planning to drive down to Oklahoma after the Christmas break and arrangements had to be made.

There was apprehension about driving because of the weather.

There was a foot of snow in Wisconsin when they left, but everything turned out fine. In Oklahoma there was no snow and it was flat.

The weekend Shetley picked to come to Wisconsin was Oct. 21-22 of this year.

It just happened to be a Packers game weekend and there were no rooms except at the Karsten in Kewaunee.

That turned out to be fine as Brauer grew up in Algoma.

But, again, there was another coincidence. Of all the hotels Shetley chose, it was the one where Brauer worked at when she was young.

Brauer met Shetley at her mom’s house and they shared stories. Shetley got a tour of Door County, saw all the beautiful fall colors and finished the day touring Ashwaubenon and St. Norbert’s College.

The end of Shetley’s visit was spending time at Cormier School where Brauer teaches K5.

“We have education in common and I wanted to show Dorothy where I work,” said Brauer.

Shetley was given a tour of the building and talked to the students and staff.

Shetley commented, “Our schools and staff are similar in character. I am enjoying the visit.”

Brauer said with a smile, “There was one thing that is different between the two schools. At Cormier in the winter the students don’t go out for recess if it is below zero. In Oklahoma they don’t go out for recess if it is below 40 degrees.

Shetley’s school gets six weather days. Ashwaubneon gets two.

Both had a lot to share after only meeting the second time in 40 years.

There was a smile on their faces, as they knew the friendship would continue for years to come.

As they say when texting, they are BFFs – best friends forever.

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