Friday, mars 24, 2000
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened
his Army uniform, and
studied crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station.
looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't,
with the rose.
His interest in her had begun thirteen months before
in a Florida library.
Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with
of the book, but with the notes pencilled in the margin. The
handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.
In the front
of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis
With time and effort he located her address. She lived in
New York City.
He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting
her to correspond.
The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.
the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through
mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart.
A romance was
budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused.
She felt that
if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.
When the day finally came for him to return home
from Europe, they scheduled
their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New
"You'll recognise me," she wrote, "by the red rose
I'll be wearing on my
lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl
whose heart he
loved, but whose face he'd ever seen.
Let John Blanchard tell you what happened:
"A young woman was coming toward
me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls
delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin
had a gentle
firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come
started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not
rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips.
way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably, I
made one step closer
to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly
behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had greying hair
tucked under a
worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust
The girl in the green suit was walking quickly way.
I felt as though I was
split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep
longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and
own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible,
grey eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My
gripped he small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to
to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious,
something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which
I had been
and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and
the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by
bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard,
must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take
dinner?" The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile.
"I don't know
what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young
lady in the green
suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat.
said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that
waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said
some kind of test!"
It's not difficult to understand and admire Hollis
Maynell's wisdom. The
true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.
me whom you love," Houssaye wrote, "And I will tell you
who you are."
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