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," Samantha said.
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?" she asked.
"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 answered.
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
"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
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 dance!"
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 told them."
"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 Connecticut Drive."
"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 Atlanta!"
"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
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… possibly death.
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 Army!"
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 it!"
"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 happened!"
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. Parker exclaimed.
"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 chance."
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 the street.
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," Ingrid said.
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 napping."
"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… HALT!"
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,
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 calling him.
"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
"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.."
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