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West Side Stories

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One day during the war an old lady came into the ration board. Her ration book was all torn up. She would send the kids on the block to the store for her, and she'd tear out the coupons to give to them--and the book was all messed up.

Virginia, who worked with me, was very young. She'd come from Tennessee, or someplace like that, to get a divorce, which was easier in Florida. She was berating this woman about her torn-up ration book. So I went over, and I said, "Virginia, I'll handle this."

I asked the woman to come inside and sit down at my desk, which she did. She had no children. Her husband was gone. She was living alone. So I made her out a new ration book. I put a hard cover on it, and I wrote her name on it, Mary B. Farren. And I told her that when she sent the children to the store, give them the whole book, and the grocer would tear out what was necessary.

As she was leaving she said, "I hope you will never be alone in the world."

Then one day, not too many months after that, a woman who worked at one of the local nursing homes came in. She threw a flock of ration books on the counter, and she said, "These people have ceased." And there was my book from Mary B. Farren.

She must have gone into the nursing home after I saw her. And she had died, ceased.

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