A Little Lex History

The Letter Exchange was started in 1982 by Steve Sikora in Albany, California. Steve's unique idea was to assign code numbers to subscribers and forward mail, thus providing anonymous initial contact while allowing writers to self-match based on their descriptions of themselves or their writing interests. Approximately 12,000 subscribers read the magazine and used the forwarding service during the next 18 years. With the help of his mother and sister, Steve forwarded over 165,000 letters, moving to Santa Rosa in 1999. At the end of 2000, Steve retired from the pen pal scene, having published 51 issues and connected innumerable correspondents, many of whom are still writing to each other today.

After a two-year hiatus and much discussion, we decided that Steve's idea was too valuable to allow to pass into history, so we revived The Letter Exchange. Who are we? "Lexers" Gary and Lonna, who have been involved with Lex since 1986 and 1999, respectively. Although our day jobs had little to do with letters or publishing, we both have an academic background related to writing (Literature and History).

The Present

After more than 15 years of working with Lexers, we feel more strongly than ever that old-fashioned letter writing still has an important place in the world, connecting people at a slow and deliberate pace that's refreshing and satisfying in an era of instant communication. It's also more thoughtful. A letter comes in, and you think about a way to respond. Eventually you get something down on paper, but by that time you've done a lot of thinking. There's a sort of peacefulness about it when you're not using technology except a pen. And fun!