The year was 1917. Things were changing in Atlanta, Georgia. Not
only were things changing in Georgia, but across the country,
also. New inventions such as the radio and the automobile were
being made known. Immigrants from overseas countries were
escaping the torture and strife of war and coming to America. The
United States had entered the Great War after the Zimmerman Note
had been written. Times were changing.
Atlanta didn't seem to change too dramatically to two
young citizens, Samantha Ellis Parker and Elizabeth Marie Martin.
They had both lived there all their lives, and grew up together,
best friends since the second grade. They loved their hometown,
and had went through some quite strange events, such as being
kidnapped by a secret society, rescuing a dog from an evil
pastor, writing a letter to the newspaper asking for people to
help the citizens in the slums, and stopped a potential murder at
the state fair. All through that, they had met a new friend and
changed part of town.
It was a bright, sunny day in May in the city of Atlanta.
Despite the warm temperatures and the beautiful weather, Samantha
Parker and Elizabeth Martin chose to stay inside and read books.
They weren't in the mood to go to town, or to go to the park.
Samantha and Elizabeth felt that since now Elizabeth was fifteen,
and that Samantha was fourteen, they were too grown up to do like
they did before. Before, they used to go to town and go to the
movies and go to the candy store. That used to be their favorite
thing to do on Saturdays. But now, they were at the age
considered to be young ladies, and they needed to act like it.
Samantha and Elizabeth were growing up.
Elizabeth shut her book quietly and sighed. She looked out the
window and saw the neighbor kids cheerfully playing outside. Sure
do miss the days when Samantha and I did that, she thought. She
remained silent for awhile, until she saw Samantha close her
book. Then she spoke up and said to her friend, "Remember when we
used to play like that, Sammy?" She pointed to the window. "I
sure do miss those days."
"You know, I was thinking that very same thing, 'Liza,"
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
"Wonder who that could be," Elizabeth said as she got up to
answer the door. She opened it, and to her surprise, it was a
sharply dressed deliveryman with an envelope addressed to both
Samantha and Elizabeth.
"Delivery for Samantha Parker and Elizabeth Martin," he
said, holding out the envelope.
"Yes, I am Elizabeth," Elizabeth replied, accepting the
envelope. "Thank you."
"You're very much welcome," said the deliveryman, tipping
his hat at Elizabeth. "Good day."
"Good day," Elizabeth said. She closed the door as the
deliveryman walked away.
Samantha met Elizabeth halfway to the door. "What is it?"
"It's an envelope," Elizabeth answered. "It's addressed to
both of us."
"Why, that's strange," Samantha replied. "It's not very
often that we get mail. Let's open it."
"Okay." Elizabeth tore open the envelope and pulled out the
slip of paper that was inside. "It's an invitation to the Town
Hall dance! And we're invited!" she exclaimed.
Samantha was speechless. She and Elizabeth knew that the
annual Town Hall dance was for the debutantes of Atlanta, the
wealthy young girls who looked for a future of high society and
fame. But Samantha and Elizabeth, why, they were just two plain
girls who knew nothing of being debutantes. Surely, an invitation
to the Town Hall dance was an exciting surprise.
Elizabeth was silent, too. She just stood and daydreamed of
going to the elegant dance, wearing a beautiful dress and dancing
with some of the richest boys in town. Then she looked down at
the simple black and burgundy dress that she was wearing now.
Elizabeth looked up and said to Samantha, "Well, if we're going
to perhaps the most prominent dance in the state of Georgia, we
need new dresses!"
"Yes," Samantha said. "Let's make our new dresses and be
prepared." She was silent for a moment, but then spoke up and
said, "When is the dance?"
"The invitation says it's on the twenty-sixth," Elizabeth
Samantha said nothing, but quickly went over to where the
calendar was. "Perfect! About a week away," she said, after
searching the page of the current month of May. "That's a Friday,
so the dance must be that night."
Elizabeth once more checked the invitation and replied,
"That's right." She slid the invitation back in the envelope and
said, "Who's going to be your date?"
"Oooh, that's gonna be a hard decision, 'Liza," answered
Samantha. "Who's it going to be for you?"
Elizabeth seemed to think for a moment, then said, "Do you
think Tommy would get mad if I asked him?"
"I don't know," Samantha replied. "He doesn't seem to annoy
you as much as he did before. He seems shy whenever you're
around. You know, 'Liza, I think he likes you."
"I never imagined that!" said Elizabeth. "For now, though,
let's go inform our parents the news of the dance, then we'll go
about sewing our dresses and deciding who our dates will be."
"Agreed," Samantha stated.
Both Samantha and Elizabeth were looking forward to the
dance. This was their first time of being invited, and of course,
they were nervous. It was a big moment in the lives of the two
young Atlanta citizens.
The night of the twenty-sixth soon arrived, and so did the Town
Hall dance. Tommy reluctantly agreed to be Elizabeth's escort,
and Samantha's date was Henry Houston, one of Tommy's closest
The dance was to begin at eight o'clock and last until the
early morning hours, long after midnight, but ending before dawn.
At quarter to eight, Samantha, Henry, Tommy, and Elizabeth headed
towards the town hall.
"Sure is chilly tonight," Elizabeth said, pulling her shawl
tightly around her shoulders.
"Yeah," Samantha answered in reply.
Other than remarks about the weather and events of the
Great War, nobody talked much as they neared the Town Hall. All
four of them were nervous; none had ever been to such an event.
Soon, the group arrived, but stopped abruptly when they saw
the Town Hall building. It was a big brick building, extremely
tall and elaborate, and it looked quite different than it did as
usual. Although Samantha and Elizabeth passed it everyday on
their way to school, tonight, it looked completely strange. It
felt almost as if they were visiting a millionaire's home, except
they didn't know the millionaire.
Debutantes and their escorts passed them and entered the
building. Samantha and Elizabeth couldn't help but stare at the
other girls' long, flowing, beautiful dresses, and feel out of
place among the richest in town.
Finally, Tommy said to the others, "Let's go on in. We must
look pretty strange to the others, standing out here like we
don't know what we're doing. Come on."
The group slowly made their way forwards and into the
building. The inside of the Town Hall was by far fancier than the
outside. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and famous paintings
were nailed to the wall. Two chairs and a loveseat sat on both
sides of the fireplace, which was filled with a warm fire. The
dim light of dusk shone through the giant windows, and the moon
was rising in the distance.
The small group of four was suddenly taken from its daze
when a voice behind them said, "Welcome to the annual Town Hall
Elizabeth was the first to turn around. Behind them stood a
doorman, the exact same one who had brought her the invitation
over a week before. "Thank you," she said.
After that, Tommy, Henry, Samantha, and Elizabeth waited for
the next dance. While waiting, they drank punch and talked. Then,
the dance started. Elizabeth teamed up with Tommy, and Samantha
with Henry. This dance was a waltz, what all of the dances would
be that night.
The night seemed to go by slowly. Moonlight peeked in through
the window, and the dancing continued. After awhile, Tommy and
Elizabeth went outside into the courtyard, for a short break from
Elizabeth looked up at the starry sky and the moon. She loved the
outdoors and its beautiful scenery.
Tommy sat on a bench and looked around at the courtyard's
brick walls. Suddenly, he stood up and said to Elizabeth, "I've
got something to tell you."
Elizabeth turned around and asked, "Yes, Tommy?"
"I'm going to tell you something to tell my family," Tommy
answered. "They could probably handle it better if someone else
"Tell them what?" said Elizabeth.
"I'm going to join the Army," replied Tommy. "I'm leaving
tonight and I'll be headed out for France tomorrow."
Elizabeth took the news as a surprise, but she said, "Are
you sure your parents will approve of it?"
"I don't think so, but that's why I want you to tell them.
I'll be gone by the time they find out, then they can't stop me.
I feel it's my duty to protect my country. Pa fought in the
Spanish-American War, so I don't see no reason why I can't fight
in this war," Tommy stated.
"Okay," said Elizabeth. "I'll tell them tomorrow morning."
"That's perfect," Tommy replied. "Now you don't tell anybody
tonight, you hear? Just go to my house tomorrow and tell them."
"If you say so," Elizabeth whispered. "Let's go back
inside." She stood up and went back in, not stopping to see if
Tommy was coming. She trudged over to the loveseat and sat down.
Elizabeth looked around and spotted Samantha and Henry talking to
a girl and her date by the punch table. She stood up and went to
where they were.
"Hi, Samantha," Elizabeth said.
"Hi, 'Liza," Samantha said. "Caroline, here, she was just
telling me that an immigrant family was moving in over on
"Really?" Elizabeth asked, her hopes brought up a little.
"Yes," Caroline said with a strong Southern accent. "I
heard they were German. They might be spies for the German army!
Wouldn't that be somethin' if they was! Spies, right here in
"I don't think that'd happen," Elizabeth replied. She
looked around at the others. Samantha seemed eager to go welcome
the new family, Caroline looked surprised, her date didn't care,
and Henry Houston had an angry look on his face.
"Samantha and I will go and visit them tomorrow, then. We'll
bake some cookies and take them with us," Elizabeth said.
Henry glared at Samantha and Elizabeth, then walked away.
Wonder what's wrong with him, Elizabeth thought.
About one o'clock that morning, Samantha, Elizabeth, Tommy, and
Henry headed towards home. Everyone was quiet as they walked
along; Elizabeth, troubled with the news of Tommy's joining the
Army, Samantha excited about the arrival of the immigrant family,
Tommy, about to run away, and Henry, with unknown anger towards
Samantha and Elizabeth for some reason.
On the way home, Henry's house was the first stop. He said
goodbye to Tommy, but he said it angrily to Samantha and
Elizabeth. This left both the girls puzzled, wondering why he was
The rest of the walk home was quiet and long. Nobody talked,
that was, until they reached Elizabeth's house. Elizabeth said
goodbye to Samantha, then said the same to Tommy. Samantha didn't
know it, but Elizabeth was saying goodbye to Tommy for the last
time, possibly. Elizabeth knew well what was going to happen, and
felt terribly sorry for her friend and her friend's family, once
they discovered that their only son had marched off to war…
Elizabeth turned and went inside. Instead of going to bed,
she quietly sat down on the couch and began to think. She
wondered what would happen the next day, when the Parkers found
out Tommy was gone, and whether or not she and Samantha would go
visit the immigrant family. Elizabeth then remembered an
important fact that her mother had told her when she was very
young… "We never know what will happen, today, tomorrow, not even
the next second." Elizabeth sat recalling the events of the
night, then slowly climbed the stairs and went to bed.
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth, wake up!"
Elizabeth awoke the next morning to her best friend trying
to wake her. "Samantha! What is it?"
Samantha, who had been crying helplessly, brushed back a
tear and answered the question. "It's Tommy! He's gone, and he
left a note on the kitchen table saying he's left to join the
Elizabeth said nothing. Guilt swelled in her heart as Samantha
cried. Elizabeth strained to think of words to say, but the only
thing she could think of was to tell what she knew. She
hesitated, then began to say, "Samantha, I… I, well, I knew Tommy
was going to join the Army."
Samantha gasped. "What! How did you know?"
"He told me last night at the dance," answered Elizabeth. "He
said he was going to leave last night, and that he'd be heading
for France on a ship today."
"Then maybe we've got time to stop him! He'll have to get to
Savannah before he can go!" Samantha broke in.
"No. Don't do that. He said himself that he wanted to protect
America, and to be a hero, just like his pa," replied Elizabeth.
"I just want him to be safe! At home!" exclaimed Samantha. "Ma
will be hysterical if Tommy gets.. gets.. oh, I don't want to say
"He'll be all right. We've just got to pray. God will be sure
Tommy's safe, Samantha," said Elizabeth. "For now, let me get
dressed and then we'll go to your house and tell the whole
Samantha said nothing, but just went over to the window seat
and sat down. She still cried, looking outside, staring at the
sun, barely rising over the horizon.
Once Elizabeth was dressed, she and Samantha left the house
and went down to the Parkers. The early morning air was chilly as
they rushed along, and the first rays of sunlight began to fill
the sky. People in the houses on Revelle Street were just
beginning to wake up. It was morning in Atlanta.
Samantha and Elizabeth hurried up the porch steps at the
Parker's house. They burst inside and immediately went to the
kitchen where everybody was. Mrs. Parker and Karen had been
crying, Mr. Parker sat reading and rereading Tommy's letter, and
little Amelia, who sat beside her mother, seemed to feel, too,
the sorrow that hung low in the midst of the Parker house.
"I'm back!" Samantha said. "And Elizabeth knows what
From oldest to youngest, around the table, heads shot up.
Elizabeth began to tell the story. "Last night at the dance,
Tommy said he was going to join the Army. He told me that he
would leave last night, then head for France by ship. Said he
wanted to be a hero. Told me not to say anything until I was sure
he was gone."
"That doesn't sound like anything our Tommy would do!" Mrs.
"Well, he did it," replied Elizabeth. "He wants to protect
the country, and I'm sure we all would do the same if we had a
Nobody said anything. The house was silent.
Finally, Karen spoke up and asked, "Will Tommy be okay? He
won't get hurt, will he?"
Mrs. Parker hung her head low, but said nothing. Mr. Parker
answered Karen's question. "We don't really know. The only thing
we can do is pray."
"Yes, pa," Karen whispered.
Elizabeth looked around and said, "Would you like for me to
sew a blue star to put in the window?"
"You can if you wish," Mr. Parker answered.
Elizabeth turned to Samantha and said, "I guess I should
have told last night. It's all my fault that Tommy ran away."
"No, 'Liza," Samantha replied. "It's not your fault. Like
you said, he told you he wanted to be a hero. And so he is."
The day passed by slowly, and an eerie stillness filled the
residence of the Parkers. Elizabeth had sewn the blue star and
had hung it in the window by a piece of ribbon. The blue star was
both a sad and patriotic sight. Sad because it meant possibly
death, and patriotic because it meant someone lived there who was
brave enough to go protect the country they loved.
Somewhere around noon, Elizabeth asked Samantha if she would
like to go visit the immigrant family. Samantha reluctantly
agreed, and they left the house.
When Samantha and Elizabeth reached the slums, they asked a
lady standing by a tree for directions on how to get to the
immigrant family's house.
"Where might we find the house of a German immigrant family
who just recently arrived here?" Elizabeth asked politely.
"Right down there," the lady answered, pointing down
Connecticut Drive. "That white house next to the green one."
"Thank you," Elizabeth replied. She and Samantha headed down
When Samantha and Elizabeth reached the house that the lady
had directed them to, both were surprised. The house was
extremely small, only one story, with a small cement porch that
was no bigger than the inside of a closet. The paint was peeling
off the house and the front window was cracked, and rusty iron
beams formed the porch railings. The house had seven windows all
together, while a house Samantha and Elizabeth were accustomed to
had fifteen or sixteen. This house was a quaint one to the girls,
but they liked it.
Elizabeth knocked on the front door and waited until
somebody came. A girl about their age came to the door and opened
it. "Hello," she said.
"Hi," Elizabeth replied. "I'm Elizabeth Martin and this is
my friend, Samantha Parker. We came to welcome you to Atlanta."
"Danke schön," the girl replied. "I do not speak good
English. Ich bin Ingrid Goldschmidt. Kommen nicht."
Samantha and Elizabeth followed Ingrid inside. The inside of
the house was in better condition than the out. Little pink roses
were painted onto the wallpaper, and the house had a faint
feeling of home.
"Ich bin Ingrid. We moved here gestern, aus Deutschland. Ich
habe drei sisters und ein brother. Mutter ist here, too."
"I hope you had a safe reise here," Elizabeth replied. She
understood a little German, at least enough to understand what
Ingrid was saying.
"Wir haben," said Ingrid. "Come und meet meine Familie."
She led Samantha and Elizabeth into the dining room, where
Ingrid's family was unpacking their boxes.
"Mutter, Schwestern, treffen Samantha und Elizabeth,"
Mrs. Goldschmidt and her other three daughters said hello.
Ingrid introduced her sisters, "Elizabeth, Samantha, dies
ist Else, Gretchen, Magda, und Marlene. Mein bruder ist ein
"We're very happy to meet you," said Elizabeth. She asked
Ingrid, "Would you like to go to Kirche with me tomorrow?"
"Ja," answered Ingrid. "Danke schön."
"I guess Samantha and I should be getting on home now,"
Elizabeth replied. "I'll come by here tomorrow morning. Kirche
starts at ten."
"Ja," Ingrid said. "Lebewhol."
"Lebewhol," Samantha and Elizabeth answered. They left the
Goldschmidt's house and headed for home.
"AND MARCH! HUT, TWO, THREE, FOUR, HUT, TWO, THREE, FOUR, AND…
Thomas Phillip Parker marched with the army infantry at the
base. He had been in the Army for over a month now, at the rank
of Private, and was stationed in Nantes, France.
The infantry spread out among the Army base after marching.
Tommy headed straight to the barracks and climbed onto his bed.
He pulled out a scrap piece of paper and a pencil from under his
pillow and began to write a letter to his family.
I am doing fine, just so you
know. France is a bigger country than I thought it
was. I don't know a thing of what the French people
are saying, although it's none of my business. How are
things back home in the States? I already miss you all
and Atlanta. The weather is awfully cold and dreary
over here. That makes me jealous because I know you all
are enjoying the warm weather and bright sunshine. Ma,
Pa, I'm sorry I ran away like I did, but I want to
protect America so that we all have a home. Folks like
us soldiers will make sure those Central Powers won't hit
close to home. Samantha, I miss the times when I would
annoy you and Elizabeth. I had a wonderful time at the
dance that night. When you see Elizabeth and Johnny,
tell them I miss them, too. Amelia, Karen, I sure do
hope you're doing well. I miss everything about home. I
must close now.
Your son, friend, and brother, Tommy.
Tommy read the letter, made an envelope out of the paper,
and took it to the base's post office. He watched as it slid down
the metal shaft and into the mail bag. Then he heard a voice
"PARKER! REPORT TO THE OFFICE RIGHT AWAY!"
Tommy headed to where he was told.
Samantha, Elizabeth, Chrystal, and Ingrid sat at the counter in
the Italian restaurant. They tried to stay out of the hot
temperatures and the bright sunshine.
"I like it here in Atlanta," Ingrid said as she took a sip
of her soda. Samantha and Elizabeth had managed to teach her some
English during the short while Ingrid had been in town.
"Yes," Samantha said.
"It feels so free und nobody ist telling you what to do and
nobody ist angry at you!" said Ingrid.
Elizabeth shot Samantha a glance, and Samantha immediately
knew what it meant. Should we tell her about 'them'?
Samantha sternly looked back, and that meant no.
While the four girls sat at the counter and enjoyed their
day, they didn't know they were secretly being watched. Henry
Houston and two of Tommy's other friends, Michael Saunders and
Edward Meyers, sat in a booth in the corner of the restaurant.
"Those two over there," Henry said, pointing to Samantha and
Elizabeth, "the black-haired girl and the blonde-haired one,
they're the ones I was telling you two about. They got the
Colonel arrested, and now I say it's payback time."
Michael and Edward leaned closer in order to listen.
"Whatcha gonna do?"
"I ain't gonna do nothin' right now; I got to think
somethin' up. But not only am I gonna get rid of them two, I'm
gonna get their 'friends', too," Henry answered. "There's one
thing I know's gonna happen."
"I'm taking up the Colonel's job.."