Marilyn stayed busy going to school, attending church, and playing with the Reckley children. She enjoyed everything about Cumberland, except one thing–she missed her grandparents terribly. Often Marilyn would think of the things they had done together in Greensburg: shopping, taking drives in the country, and cleaning Uncle Crawford’s grave. She missed those times with a deep longing.
But one spring day, Marilyn got some good news. She came home from school and marched into the kitchen. “Hello, Mother. Hello, Dad!” she happily greeted, as she sat in one of the wooden chairs and set her red plaid school bag on the floor beside her.
“How was school today?” Mother asked, taking a tray of cookies out of the oven, a delicacy during war time.
“Oh, just fine,” Marilyn answered.
“How long till school is out, Marilyn?” asked Dad, looking at her over the top of his newspaper.
“One more month,” Marilyn replied sadly, knowing she would miss her friends at school.
“Oh, my,” Dad said, setting down his newspaper. “It’s coming sooner than I thought. We’d better make plans for your summer trip.”
“Summer trip?” Marilyn gasped, her mind spinning.
“Yes,” Dad replied. “Instead of visiting your grandparents for a week, your mother and I have decided that you may spend the whole summer with Mum and Pa.”
“Oh, Daddy!” Marilyn squealed, leaping out of her chair and hugging Dad fiercely. Dad returned to his newspaper as Marilyn gave Mother a quick squeeze before sitting down to eat two hot cookies and a half glass of milk. She ate far too quickly as she excitedly thought of her trip.
“Marilyn, slow down.” Mother reprimanded. “Eat like a lady.” Marilyn obediently slowed down, but her excitement continued to show as she swung her legs.
“Stop kicking the chair, Marilyn.” Mother chided again. Marilyn heard a faint snicker from behind the newspaper.
When school let out, Marilyn waited until the following week to leave for Pennsylvania. She wanted to attend the annual Sunday School picnic that Saturday. Marilyn loved the food and fun that the picnic had to offer. She also enjoyed watching Dad play baseball with the men and older boys, namely Delbert Cogill, Bob Wetzel, and John Clark. When Dad got up to the plate, even the ladies stopped what they were doing to watch. He was an excellent ball player, and regularly hit the ball far over the outfielders’ heads. As a youth, Dad had aspired to be a professional baseball player, but when he got saved, he gave up worldly things. Marilyn was proud of her dad’s decision to follow the Lord.
On Monday Marilyn’s parents took her on the long ride to Pennsylvania. Marilyn could not sit still. She slid from one side of the back seat to the other as she viewed the beautiful Allegheny Mountains around her. Finally they arrived in Greensburg. Marilyn was full of excitement and joy as she saw all the places that she remembered so clearly: the farmer’s market, McCurry’s Five and Ten Cent store, the corner on which Dad had preached, the cemetery where Uncle Crawford was buried, and finally the three-story apartment building where her grandparents lived. Marilyn pushed the heavy car door open, leaped from her seat, and ran up the sidewalk. She pushed open the big wooden door, and then scaled three flights of steps as quickly as she could. Knocking quite loudly on her grandparents’ apartment door, she bounced impatiently. When Mum opened the door, Marilyn sprang into her arms. “Little Marilyn,” Mum cooed, and to Marilyn it seemed that everything was right again.
Dad and mother stayed for one night. They left the next day so that they could be home in time for the Tuesday night fellowship. Marilyn was sad to see them go, knowing she would not see them for the rest of the summer. But Marilyn put those thoughts behind her; she was excited to spend her summer in Pennsylvania.
The days passed pleasantly in Greensburg as Marilyn and her grandparents formed a weekly routine. On Sunday morning they attended Sunday school and church. On Sunday afternoon, Marilyn spent time with Mum while Pa went to minister to the inmates at the Westmoreland County Jail. Then the three of them would go back to church for the Sunday evening service. Every weekday, Marilyn would stay home with Mum while Pa went to work at the glass factory. Almost every afternoon, Mum and Marilyn would walk to the corner market and buy groceries. On Wednesday night, they went to church for the prayer service. Saturday, when Pa was off work, the three of them would go clean Uncle Crawford’s grave.
Marilyn enjoyed playing with Garnet Shaw, a girl who lived in her grandparents’ apartment building. Marilyn and Garnet decided that they were going to learn to swim, so they each paid ten cents at the YMCA and swam for an hour every weekday morning. Both girls did indeed manage to learn how to swim.
When the summer was over, Marilyn was sad to leave her grandparents, but she was delighted to see her parents and the Reckleys again. It was great to be home.
That fall there was a new girl named Doris Marshall in the first grade class. Every day at lunch she would ask various girls for a bite of their sandwiches. Often she would ask Marilyn. One such day, Doris asked, “May I have a bite?” Marilyn looked down at her pickled hot pepper and cheese sandwich. Her parents bought jars of pickled hot peppers just for her, and she did not want to give up one single bite of her delicious sandwich.
“Yes,” said Marilyn begrudgingly, extending her sandwich to Doris. Doris took one bite. As she started to chew, her eyes got big, her face turned red, and she charged to the other side of the cafeteria where the water fountain was. Marilyn could not help but laugh inside. She was sure she would not have to give up any more precious bites to Doris.
One day Marilyn saw a poster announcing auditions for an upcoming school play. After talking to her parents about it, she decided that she would audition. Many of the other children were nervous, but not Marilyn. She sang at church often so she was not afraid to perform. Much to Marilyn’s delight, she was given the lead role in the play. Even though many of the children had trouble memorizing their lines, and Marilyn missed several practices due to sickness, the play was a success. Marilyn looked forward to the next year’s play.