Athens Review, Athens, Texas


July 24, 2006

Athens man finally meets World War II-era pen-pal 64 years after first correspondence


“When my niece started inquiring, she found out the town was just a few miles from where she lived,” Tommie said.

“Then, the newspaper said they received a reply. Mien’s great-niece saw it and called her uncle, and said “I think they’re looking for Aunt Mien.”

The newspaper also received a phone call from Mien’s son, Ger Bovens. Bovens also sent the Warrens an e-mail with some pictures of his mother and grandparents, hoping that Travis would recognize them.

Travis originally thought there was no chance of ever meeting Mien. “The only thing that I knew was that we were going to try to look her up,” he said.

“I thought, ‘She wouldn’t be alive in the first place. She’d have to be 76 years old, too.’ When she told me she had done all this, I said, ‘Oh, baloney.’”

The Masons landed in the Netherlands on April 12. As soon as they arrived at the airport, Winnette Warren had a surprise for them. “She said, “You’re not going to believe what we got last night,” Tommie said.

“That’s when they started they getting the e-mails and this last one came after we were there.”

On April 15, Travis Mason finally met the woman who was the girl who sent those letters all those years ago. The meeting was arranged at a teahouse in Beek. Mien recognized Travis almost immediately.

“They were sitting at a table when we walked in, and she raised up and started for me,” he said.

“The first question she asked us was, ‘Is it still a tradition in the U.S. that you still spank someone on their birthday?’ It was something my uncle had told her while he was staying with her family, and she remembered it after all this time.”

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