Monday, February 21, 2011

The Interview

Yesterday morning, I set my alarm (not normal for a Sunday) and made sure I was up and ready to go by 11 a.m. Then I hit the road and drove almost 2 hours to Grand Island, Nebraska, a town approximately 88 miles west of Lincoln. Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw played on my radio (CDs - I'm not lucky enough to have a radio station that will play '40s music!) and I went over the interview questions I'd prepared earlier in the week.

I arrived at the modest, white house in Grand Island a few minutes before 1 p.m. As soon as I parked my car on the curb and stepped out, Mary Lou popped her head out of the door and said, "Melissa! Park your car in the driveway in case it rains."

So I dutifully complied and thought, I like her already.

I stepped foot into a well-cared for home with pictures decorating the walls and placed on every available space. On the dining room table, Mary Lou had everything stacked in neat piles - pictures, books, framed photos, and even an old, battered telegram.

We started from the beginning - on the day that she decided to take a chance and apply for a job as a secretary at the FBI in Washington, D.C. during World War II. She was only 18 and had been born and raised in a small Nebraska town. When I asked her if she was afraid to go to the big city, she said, "Not at all."

It was a terrific time. She told me stories that made us both erupt in laughter. Memories that she hadn't thought of in years suddenly came back to her and at one point in our conversation, she said, "I haven't laughed this much in a long time."

Mary Lou met some incredible people, famous and not-so-famous. And her story of living and working in Washington D.C. during the war is one that deserves to be told.

So I'm going to tell it.

While we reminisced about the good looks of Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra,  discussed the jitterbug (she won a jitterbug dance in D.C.), and lamented over our shared concern for the current state of our country, I said to Mary Lou, "I get along better with your generation than my own."

She smiled, and without missing a beat, she said, "That's because you understand us."

I sure do.


  1. How awesome is that? I can't wait to read her story. :)

  2. Oh this sounds lovely for both of you! Is she research for a new book or the one you are writing? Or are you going to share more of her interview with us??

  3. Excellent! I love Mary Lou already. ;-) Looking forward to hearing more.

  4. Sounds like a good time was had by all.

  5. Betsy - It was VERY awesome. :-)

    Terri - I am writing an article about her and hope to sell it to a magazine. :-)

    Talei - She is just the type of gal I could hang out with on a regular basis!

    Tana - Definitely!

  6. What an amazing story! I'm always picking my granddad's brain. He was in the pacific for two years only a month or so after getting married.
    It's such a remarkable time.

  7. Jolene - oh, I hope you're writing it all down! It's definitely a time in our history that we need to remember for future generations. :-)

  8. How wonderful to be able to spend time with such a fascinating lady.

  9. I'm hoping you're going to turn this fabulous interview into a story:)

  10. Melissa,
    It sounds like a great interview-and I especially love the comment about you understanding her generation better than our own. That is so, so true!

    I will send you a nice long email tomorrow-I painted all day yesterday and all day today and I am exhausted! (It makes me admire Mary Lou's generation even more-now there were people who knew the meaning of hard work every day.)

    Talk to you tomorrow-and I'm glad your interview was such a success! Any plans to go visit her again?

  11. Martin7:50 AM

    I will be a great article. Looking forward to read.

  12. Debs - It really was wonderful. I enjoyed visiting with her so much.

    Tamika - Writing an article about her that I hope to get published. But my wheels are spinning for a novel, too!

    Valerie - I may visit her again, not sure. She's such an awesome gal! Looking forward to your email. :-)

  13. Sounds like a great interview. I hope you're able to write her story.

  14. Martin - I will definitely let everyone know when it's published.

    Patti - Definitely great!

  15. What a fascinating lady! Glad you had such a great time with her.

  16. Shirley - She was very fascinating! Just loved talking with her. :-)

  17. What a wonderful interview! Good luck selling the article, it deserves to have a wide I really want to read it! :)


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