Original story published in The Catholic Digest; June, 1968 (under Miksovsky); performed (produced, with accompanying dance by Julia Goldsmith) at Guild House and Washtenaw Community College, March/April 1998.
The plane began its take-off, and I slumped in my seat, feeling miserable. I had gone to Hollywood on a quest for autographs, but all I had to show for my vacation was an empty autograph book. My parents and older sisters would be waiting at the airport to hear about the movie stars I had seen in Hollywood. I could hear myself now: “Well, I did see a dog that looked just like Lassie.”
I rummaged in my pockets for food and came up with two lifesavers. Lunch wouldn’t be served for two hours, and I was ravenous. I was suddenly aware of a little girl. She was standing beside me, staring at the lifesavers. I started to say something cross, but thought better of it. Feeling miserable was no excuse to be nasty.
I slid over and motioned to her. She sat down, never taking her eyes off the lifesavers, and identified herself as Emma. “Are you hungry?” I asked. She nodded. “Didn’t you have lunch?” She nodded again. “Milk and a sandwich.” “No dessert?” I persisted. She pointed her stubby finger at the lifesavers. “I lost mine,” she said. What could I do? I gave her the lifesavers.
After little Emma ate them, she showed interest in my autograph book, so I let her scribble on the first page. Why not?
In about fifteen minutes, Emma’s mother came to get her. “I hope my daughter hasn’t been a bother,” she said. I managed to smile and point to Emma’s scribbles: her mother understood. On the second page of my autograph book is the following inscription: “Thank you for taking care of my daughter. Best Wishes. Julie Andrews.”
*I wrote and published this story in 1968, 13 years after the events took place. Those events forty-two years ago happened pretty much as I described them. Except the child on the plane was not a girl named Emma, but a little boy whose name I never knew. And I changed the name of the movie star to Julie Andrews when I submitted the piece– because I’d been told the Catholic Digest would never print a favorable story about my real benefactress.
Part Two: After the plane landed that evening in 1955, the police made all the regular people get off. My family was waiting. They wanted to leave, but agreed to stay when they saw the red carpet being unrolled, and all the photographers and reporters clustering around. The movie star’s family must already have been whisked off somewhere, because when she finally emerged, she was alone, looking fabulously glamorous. She posed a moment, then proceeded down the airplane stairs and along the carpet between the waiting throngs of cordoned-off admirers. When she came abreast of me and my family, she stopped, turned, and shook hands with me. “Thank you, Lyn,” she said. “Thank you for all your help.” I stammered something in response, and she swept on. The most famous movie star in the world had acknowledged me, thanked me, and called me by my name-in public, for the world to hear. Thank you, Elizabeth Taylor.
Original story published in The Catholic Digest; June, 1968; performed (produced, with accompanying dance by Julia Goldsmith) at Guild House and Washtenaw Community College, March/April 1998.