Posted: June 20, 2012 in STORY
Tags: , , , ,

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army

uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through

Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew,

but whose face he didn’t, the girl 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 the

words of the book, but with the notes pencilled in the margin. The soft

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 him and inviting her to

correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in

World War II.

During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other

through the 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 from Europe,

they scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 PM at the Grand Central

Station in New York.

“You’ll recognize 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 never seen.

I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her

blonde hair lay back in curls from her 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 alive. I started toward

her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose.

As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my

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-ankle

feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was

walking quickly away.


I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her,

and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly

companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale,

plump face was gentle and sensible; her grey eyes had a warm and

kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn

blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me 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 held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt

choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.

“I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am

so glad you could meet me; may I take you to 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.

And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell

you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street.

She said it was some kind of test!”


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