Small Diffrences

September 27, 2012
When I walked to Ms. Mary-Ellen McCarston’s house on Thursday, I had no intention of doing so the hour before. It was what you could call a “spur of the moment” idea that I’m grateful she graciously accepted. I knocked on her door and walked inside to see the familiar sight of the beach house like furniture and the small of fresh oxygen that her husband Mr. Jim needed. When I asked her if I could interview her, she blushed and flustered “Don’t you want to interview Jim? He went to the World War when he was fourteen you know.” After explaining that I was doing an interview on high school experiences, she agreed after looking over my questions. She ran her fingers through her dove grey hair and sat across from me in the two chairs with a coffee table in the center.
After asking her about what the differences of now and her years of school are, she stopped showing any signs of nervousness and began painting the picture of her life during the four years of school and World War II. I asked more questions than I wrote down, but the questions and answers I didn’t write were off topic. I didn’t care though; she vividly told every detail she remembered during those four years, from the once a year field trips to Raleigh to falling in love with the man she would marry.
Though the chapter of her story of how she helped out the war effort was what made me think . . .
Mary-Ellen was fifteen, and it was May 1942, the first spring of the US in the war, and just like the big cities were doing everything they could to help the war, so were the small towns in the grassy and secluded country. Her school was hosting a dance to raise money for “their boys” fighting in the military. Everyone in the town was buzzing with excitement, especially the girls, because they were happy to have something to look forward to. While talking about this, I could see the girl Mary-Ellen was 70 years ago underneath her older appearance.
Her father drove her to her friend Dinah’s where she and her father were carpooling all the people nearby, which wasn’t a lot, but it was appreciated by every person in the car. Arriving at the dance, she told me “I remember hearing the loud live band that was playing lively enough music to jive to.” She walked in, and couldn’t help but have a smile on her face while she told me this:

“I saw Trixie, Cora, Wilma, and Evangeline dancing with thirteen and fourteen year olds. It was all a sight for sore eyes to see everyone smiling and dancing, and it was like I didn’t have a problem in the world that night.”
She danced the night switching dance partners and doing swing, and lindy hop, and all those dances I’ve only read in books or the people on “Dancing With The Stars” do. Although the location of that dance was small and unimportant to everyone outside the distance of the area, it sounded magical the way she described it. It was a coming of age moment for her because it was her first school dance, and it made her satisfied to know that she might be helping out one of the boys at the school by coming to that dance.
The lesson I learned out of it wasn’t from the dance itself though, it was from the result of it. She proudly stated to me “That dance was a miracle; we raised forty whole dollars. That was a lot of money back then. I couldn’t tell you how many other things we could do if we had forty extra dollars.”
That had me thinking, forty dollars now is no big deal right now, or at least I don’t think most people would be satisfied with that amount in their pocket as change. I remembered a bible story about a woman who was poor and gave her only penny to the church and how that was more than a rich man giving just what he had in his wallet. I saw a similarity between that town giving all the dollars they earned to the military and the woman who gave her only penny to the church. When that comparison came to my mind, I thought more of Ms. Mary-Ellen and of the people from that time. She showed me that day that the small things you do will make a difference, even if it’s just in one person’s life.

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Pop Pop said...
Oct. 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm
Good job, Militarybrat.
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