A true story from the book “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.
Lt. John Blanchard was in New York City at Grand Central Station, and he looked up at the big clock. It said five till six. His heart was racing. At exactly six o’clock he was going to meet the girl whom he thought he was in love with but had never met. This is what had happened…
He had been in Florida for pilot training during World War II, and while he was there he happened to go to a library and check out a book. As he flipped through the pages, he noticed that someone had made notes in the margins. Reading the insightful observations in beautiful handwriting, he said to himself, “I would love to meet whoever wrote these notes; they seem so kind, gentle and wise.”
He looked the the front of the book and saw a name: Hollis Maynell, New York City. He decided to try and find her. With the help of a New York City phone book, he found her address and wrote her a letter. The day after he wrote her, he was shipped back overseas to fight in the war.
Surprisingly, Hollis answered John’s letter. They soon began to correspond back and fourth throughout the war. “Her letters were just like the marvelous notes she had written in the book,” John recalled. “She was so comforting and so helping.”
One time John confessed in a letter that he had been scared to death when they flew over Germany. Hollis had encouraged him, “All brave men are afraid at times. Next time you’re afraid, just say ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.’”
As they continued to write, John began to realize that he was having romantic feelings toward Hollis. He wrote, “Send me a picture.” and she replied, “No, I won’t. Relationships are not built on what people look like.”
Still, he was intrigued by her and longed to meet her in person. Finally the day came when he was to return to the States on leave. He mentioned in one of his letters that he was coming home and would like to take her to dinner. She arranged to meet him in New York City’s Grand Central Station at 6pm under the big clock. “You’ll know who I am because I’ll be wearing a red rose,” she told him.
At last the day had come. John waited nervously to finally meet the girl he thought he loved. Here is how John described his first meeting with Hollis Maynell:
A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. She had blonde hair that lay back in curls from her delicate ears. Her eyes were as blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in a pale green suit she looked like springtime come alive!
Excitedly, I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice she was not wearing a red rose. As I moved her way, she noticed me. A small, provocative smile curled her lips. “Going my way, soldier?” she asked coyly. I took another step closer to her. It was then that I saw… Hollis Maynell with a red rose in her coat, directly behind the girl in green. My heart sank. She was a woman well past forty. She was plump. She had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. Her thick ankles were thrust into low shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking away quickly. I had to make a choice. Should I follow the beauty who had just spoken to me? Or stay and face poor Hollis Maynell?
I made my decision, and did not hesitate. Turning toward the woman, I smiled. Even as I began to speak, I felt choked by bitter disappointment. “You must be Miss Maynell,” I said, extending my hand. “I’m so glad you could meet me. Will you join me for dinner?”
The older woman’s face then broadened into a smile. “I don’t know what this is about, Son,” she replied, “but you know what woman in the green suit who just went by? I met her on the train. She begged me to wear this rose in my coat. She said that if you should ask me to dinner, to tell you that she’s waiting for you in that big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of a test.”