The trumpeter and the crowd held out the last note of a hymn, and the Saturday night street service came to a finish. Five-year-old Marilyn was used to all of the noise, for she went to the street services every week. Dad held them on Main Street in Greensburg, right outside McCurry’s Five and Ten Cent store. Many people were shopping because the stores were open late on Saturday night. Some shoppers would stop and listen to Dad preach. Marilyn looked around at the swarm of people. Suddenly she saw her friend Delores with her family at the other side of the crowd.
“I am going to go see Delores, Mother!” she called, and ran through the crowd. “Delores!” she called.
“Hello, Marilyn,” Delores said. “Are you excited for tomorrow? I am!”
“Oh, yes!” Marilyn said happily. A few weeks previous, Dad had agreed for Marilyn and Delores to sing a duet one Sunday. Tomorrow was the day it would happen.
Then Marilyn heard Dad call, “Marilyn, it is time to go home!”
Marilyn’s family had moved from the storefront apartment to a basement apartment. It was nice, but damp. Marilyn was constantly sick with asthma there, so they had moved yet again to another apartment. Marilyn fared much better in this one.
When they arrived home, Dad turned to her and said, “Marilyn, something very sad has happened.”
“What happened, Dad?” Marilyn asked.
“Your Uncle Bill and Aunt Vivian are divorced.”
“Oh, that is not good,” Marilyn said, her blue eyes looking into his. She did not know what divorce meant, but she could tell by Dad’s expression that it was bad. Thinking about singing in church the next day with Delores made her feel better though.
The next night Marilyn and Delores were ready to sing. Once everyone had filled the pews, Dad went to the pulpit and said, “We have a special song by Delores Gray and my daughter Marilyn. They are going to sing ‘You’ll Never Know Real Peace ‘Til You Know Jesus.'” Marilyn and Delores went up to the front. Then they started to sing in harmony–Marilyn soprano and Delores alto.
You’ll never know real peace till you know Jesus,
No matter how or where you try;
For life is but loss without Him–
He died on Calv’ry’s cross to win our pardon,
He rose to justify;
He is coming soon to take us,
to reign with Him on high.
When they finished, everyone clapped. The girls went back to their seats and the service continued. The girls were so happy and proud of how well they had done.
Finally, after a full day, Marilyn and her parents went back to their apartment. She rocked her doll while Dad turned on the radio. News of the war crackled into the room. They had been listening to news of the war ever since one sad day back in December.
On that sad day, Sunday, December 7, Marilyn and her parents were at her grandparents’ house after the morning service at church. Marilyn had lain down to take a nap on the couch in the big dining room. The phone had rung and Mum had picked it up. She talked briefly in hushed tones to the caller, but when she hung up, she told everyone, “We are at war.” Marilyn’s life was different once World War ll had begun.
Now, as Marilyn sat in the living room rocking her doll, Mother came in with a worried expression on her face. “Charles, I just got a call,” she said to Dad. “Aunt Eva and her children are coming to visit next week!”
Aunt Eva (Evelyn McWilliams) was Mother’s aunt. She had two girls and three quite destructive boys. Whenever they came to visit, Mother would hide all of the toys because the boys would break things and tear things apart. Mother was an immaculate homemaker, so it was always quite a challenge for her to have them visit.
The next week, all of the toys were hidden when a knock sounded at the door. Mother went to the wooden front door and opened it. The three rowdy boys ran into the house. Then Aunt Eva and the two girls entered. Aunt Eva was a very short, plump lady with a big smile and a loose brown bun. She was wearing a frilly cotton dress colored yellow and orange. Marilyn thought it looked like an outfit a clown would wear, but of course, she did not say so. “Hello Mabel, hello Marilyn,” she said. “Oh, and you too, Charles,” she added as Dad entered the room.
“Hello,” they all replied.
“Oh, Mabel,” Aunt Eva said. “You will not believe what happened two nights ago!”
“What, Aunt Eva?” Mother asked.
“Two nights ago I went to town and I told my husband James to keep an eye on the boys. Well, when I came home, I got stuck to the floor of the kitchen. Those boys had had a jelly fight! I managed to get upstairs to their room, and when I came in, they all sat up in their beds with their hair sticking up on end from the jelly! I was so angry at the mess the house was in. James said he was too. So he had dealt with it by sending them to bed.”
Thus it was every time Aunt Eva came. The boys would run around, the girls would do as they pleased, and Aunt Eva would talk. There was always cleaning to be done after they left.