BY-WAYS - 12/24/42 - Tom's Illness. A Christmas Need - December 17, 1942

This was to have been a carefully prepared letter, full of Christmas, and sketches of interesting people. But here I am - 'way downtown, at the Cleveland Terminal, waiting to see our girl off on the night train for St. Louis - and then Ft. Leonard Wood, where her husband is ill in the hospital. A Red Cross worker sent her the telegram, and assured her there is no cause for alarm. But, naturally, Estelle wishes she had wings - or could afford airplane wings - to carry her there. I came down here early - to get her Pullman reservation. Please forgive me for talking about our family - and family troubles - first thing. But this bit of news will explain the incoherence of my letter. I always write of what I feel most deeply. And right now my heart is with that winsome soldier boy - away from home, and ill. But think of the thousands of boys who cannot be with their loved ones at this Christmas season! I am sure the loneliness and longing for one's family is harder to bear than the hardships and even the physical suffering.

At this anniversary of the birth of our Lord we are reminded of His blameless life, and His agony and death at the hands of ignorant people. But, as a Savior of mankind, there was no escape. In a lesser sense, but nonetheless noble sense, the brave boys who have made the supreme sacrifice are our saviors - saviors of our freedom, and all the things that are, as a nation, hold dear. I am as sure as I am sure of anything that these boys hold the first rights to brotherhood with Christ. Their bereaved families hold the bright jewels of remembrance, and nothing in all the world can take these away from them. These Christian families know that for them it is only a postponement of a glorious reunion. ***

Let me tell you about a brave little soldier who wears no distinctive uniform - unless it be that of a factory worker. As you know, I was "promoted" to day shift in the factory this past week - not on my own merit, but because an old friend, Jimmy Meikle, who holds a responsible position, interceded for me (without my asking him to). Helen Keller, the marvelous blind and deaf woman, was asked - at one of her public appearances - what is a man's greatest business asset. She replied, "A friend." She was right. Well, my new job takes me right back to the plant where they have the training school - back to that fine young patriot, Jim Fisher, and that delightful supervisor, Mrs. L. of whom I told you. I happen to be the only woman inspector in this plant, with two gallant young men as my advisors and fellow workmen. In this small plant young women have been trained to operate the turret lathes and drill presses. Among them is a slender little woman, with delicate features and a brave smile. Some days she looks so weary that I could not help being concerned about her. Finally I inquired - and learned that her husband died 10 months ago, leaving her with four little children - nine, seven, four, and three years old. Her own parents are dead. Some officious in-laws have helped out at times - and then reminded her of her great debt to them. So she has made up her mind to hoe her own row. She takes her little 3- and 4-year-old girls to a day nursery on her way to work. The nine-year-old girl and the seven-year-old boy get themselves off to school. And thus she manages. Immediately I thought of what the juniors could do for that family. Mrs. L. sounded out the brave little mother - to make sure she wouldn't be offended - with hand-me-down clothes, and toys and food for Christmas, she takes it in the spirit in which it is to be given. I told the Juniors about it this morning. They are thrilled over the idea of bringing a happy Christmas to a deserving family. They will bring their contributions to our Sunday School Christmas party Wednesday evening. One dear little girl gave me the contents of her purse - a nickel - to start the basket fund. My brother-in-law, Clarence, added a quarter to that. My lovely sister-in-law, Margery, who is still quite an invalid, is going to make those children a batch of cookies. And so - Christmas is still Christmas - and the love that God implanted in human hearts is still there, flowering in full beauty, despite war.

Since I have had no time to write Christmas cards, will you, my dear friends, accept this letter as a message of love and good will from

Your sincere friend,
Florence B. Taylor,
4501 Lilac Road,
South Euclid, Ohio

Next - 12/31/42 - Looking Forward to a brighter year

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