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Googlemagic

The most amazing things happen, thanks to the wonders of Google.  Last month, I decided that the time had come to get out the letters of my old British penpal Barbara, and write about her.  I corresponded with Barbara, who had a hole in her heart and was ten inches shorter than I, from 1962 when we were twelve, to 1966.  My friend, so bright and lively, was accepted by the Mayo Clinic for an operation and died there in 1966, at the age of sixteen.   I have carried her letters with me ever since, and when I got them out forty-two years after her death, I suddenly wanted to find her family.  

Using details in her letters, I figured out that her oldest brother had been trained as a designer and artist, and Googled English artists until I found some clues.  I even found a picture, a long face that had a hint of my friend.  So I wrote to him, and three weeks later, I heard back from Barbara’s younger sister Penny.  Penny and I are now corresponding; it feels as if we’ve known each other most of our lives, and in a sense, we have.  I am sending her transcriptions of her sister’s letters, and she just scanned a letter I wrote in 1966, enthusiastically giving Babs all the information I could glean from my scientist dad about the Mayo Clinic.  Barbara’s mother died the week I contacted the family, at the age of 95.  She had kept some of my letters, all these years. 
So now my story about Barbara will tell not only about the way we were, but about the on-going story, a brand new friendship in letters, thanks to Google.
And another story from the same time: the year my family lived in Paris, 1964-65,  I went for one term to a school called the Lycee de Sevres, which was considered avant garde because girls were in class with boys.  (This was before the revolution of mai ’68 changed the archaic French school system.)  I didn’t like the kids much but there were two Israeli boys, Zev and Oded, whom I did like.  I’ve retained their unusual names all this time, though of course have not kept in touch; I didn’t even know their last names.  
Yesterday I read about a documentary that will be on television tonight, about a young Israeli boy named Oded, living in Paris in 1965, who discovered that his father was a spy for the Israeli government and lived a double life.  I Googled to check the dates, and I have no doubt that it’s my Oded.  I wish now that I’d talked more to him.  I wish now that I’d written much more to Barbara. 
Google gives us not only what we need to know now, but allows us to delve far, sometimes painfully far, into the past.  I think it’s one of the greatest gifts of our time.   

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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