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It’s Gotta Be Cash

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 11, 2011

Another tale of Janet and Stevie, and their adjustment from orphanage life to family life:

From the Relief Society Magazine, June 1942 –

It’s Gotta Be Cash

By Olive W. Burt

Something was wrong, definitely wrong, but Janet couldn’t figure out just what it was. Uncle Jimmy was there, and everything should have been right – as right as it was last summer when he and Miss Grayson had spent two weeks with them at the seashore. Then nothing could have been more right!

Uncle Jimmy and Daddy had been as full of fun as two kids. they had romped and swum with Janet and Stevie and Mom and Miss Grayson. Before long Janet and Stevie were calling Miss Grayson “Anne,” and thinking of her as one of the family.

But this time Uncle Jimmy had come into the house laughing and gay, but different. He looked older, and there was a line between his nice eyebrows. Janet didn’t like to see lines drawn up and down between men’s eyebrows. It meant something pretty bad, always.

Mom had sent the children out to play, and she and uncle Jimmy had sat for a long time, talking. Then Daddy had come home, and there had been more talk; even during dinner there had been no joking.

Janet and Stevie had politely taken their cue from the adults of their world, and had eaten soberly. Mom had told them a short story, and tucked them into bed. Then she had gone back to the living room, and the three voices had gone on and on – Janet just couldn’t go to sleep with the weight of that talking on her heart.

She turned restlessly in her bed and tried to imagine what trouble was threatening those she loved. If anything happened to them … It was unthinkable1 She looked about at her room, friendly in the moonlight; she looked through the open door into Stevie’s room. They couldn’t give all this up.

It had been just about a year since Mr. and Mrs. allen had come to the Home and taken Stevie and Janet away with them. That had been a lucky day, and Janet smiled as she remembered it, remembered the Sunshine Lady and the photographer of the Morning Star who had published their pictures and helped them out. The two had visited Janet and Stevie and Mom and Daddy occasionally, and Janet’s lips twisted into a smile as she recalled the good time they had all had together.

It couldn’t end; it just couldn’t.

Just then Daddy’s voice, generally so quiet and reassuring, rose angrily, and his words carried to Janet, who sat up in bed to hear, forgetting in her anxiety that in reality she was eavesdropping.

“I tell you, Jim, I can’t do it, and I won’t do it! I haven’t the money now, and I daren’t borrow it. I myself may be called any time, and I won’t saddle Helen with debt. She’ll have the two children to take care of if I go, and I won’t add to that worry!”

“I’d pay her back! You know that, Bob. You just won’t help me!”

Then Mom was talking. Janet couldn’t hear what she said.

The little girls at still, her arms hugging her knees. What did Daddy mean? He might be called? He might go? How? Where?

And then Mom would have the worry of the two children. That meant her and Stevie. That was dreadful! Worry? She had thought they weren’t any worry. She had tried hard, and so had Stevie. Tears stung her eyes.

Then Janet was conscious of movement in the room, and she dug her knuckles into her eyes as Stevie came close to her bed.

“Janet!” the little boy whispered, “I heard them. Uncle Jimmy wants some money. Can I give him this?” He held out his little bank, and Janet saw that tears were on Stevie’s lashes, too. he was pretty smart. He understood that there was something about money and about worry and about them – and, Janet thought sadly, that was all she understood herself.

But she shook, her head at her brother, not trusting herself to talk, and drew him up onto the bed beside her.

“Why not, Janet? Why can’t I?” he persisted.

Then the door opened and Mom was looking in to see whether the loud talking had awakened them. She saw the huddled figures on the bed and came into the room, switching on the light as she came.

“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Did we waken you, Janet?” Then she must have seen Stevie and the tears and the bank, for she stopped and turned toward the open door.

“Oh, boys1″ she cried reproachfully, “You’ve wakened the children with your noise!”

She came swiftly across the room, and before Janet could stop him, Stevie was holding out the little bank.

‘Here’s some money for Uncle Jimmy,” he said, his lips twisted in the adorable, shy smile that always came when Stevie was embarrassed but determined. ‘now you won’t have to worry about us, Mommy, and Daddy won’t have to go away.”

Mom quickly looked toward Daddy and Jimmy who now were standing in the doorway. Janet tried to read what that look meant. Then Mom was on her knees beside Stevie.

“Oh, Stevie,” she cried, “that’s wonderful!”

She took the bank and held it toward Jimmy, as she buried her lips in the dark red curls on Stevie’s head.

Uncle Jimmy gravely shook Stevie’s little hand.

“That’s mighty swell of you, kid,” he said. “That fixes things fine1″

Janet looked from one to the other. They weren’t joking, she could see. They were deadly serious. And yet … that small bank, those few coins, they couldn’t have helped much.

Stevie’s voice was ringing with pride.

“I guess it’s plenty,” he said. ‘I’ve been saving an awful long time!”

Uncle Jimmy lifted the bank to his ear and shook it, listening intently. Then he nodded.

“Sounds like plenty, doesn’t it, bob?” and Daddy nodded.

Suddenly Uncle Jimmy had thrown his arms around Stevie and buried his face on the boy’s shoulder. It sounded to Janet as if he were crying.

“Don’t you see?” he cried. “This is what Anne and I want – love and loyalty! You don’t get it from anyone but a kid … And you don’t want us to have it!” He rose and went out of the room, with Daddy following.

Mommy said, ‘He’ll be all right now. You two had better go to sleep. Would you like to sleep with Janet tonight, Stevie?”

Of course he would! He snuggled up to his sister, and Mommy tucked the coverlet about them. She stooped over the little girl.

‘Now don’t you go to worrying, sweetheart,” she said. “Really, everything will be all right.” She kissed the two, turned out the light, and left the room, shutting the door gently, but firmly.

Janet held Stevie close. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t dare. He was happy, at peace, and almost at once he was fast asleep.

Janet couldn’t relax so easily. From the other room came the sound of voices again, very subdued, very urgent. She knew that everything was not settled. Her natural aptitude for taking on other people’s troubles, nourished by the years she had mothered Stevie in the Home, warned her that here was a problem that she ought to help solve. But she knew too little to get anywhere, and so at last, puzzled and troubled, she, too, slept.

The next morning Uncle Jimmy was gone before the children were up. He had left the bank, empty, and a note for them, with a special paper for Stevie. Daddy read this special paper aloud, explaining that it was Uncle Jimmy’s promise to pay Stevie back sixty-seven cents with interest, within a year and a day.

“Business men always do this way,” Daddy explained. “You put this paper away and take care of it. It is just as good as money, because Uncle Jim’s note is good. He’ll pay all right.”

Stevie went proudly to his bureau drawer and put the note carefully under the paper that lined the bottom.

Janet looked at Daddy. He smiled down at her.

“It’s all right, kid,” he said, “you don’t want to let that noodle of yours get to puzzling over this. It’s settled.”

There was something a tiny bit grim in the way Daddy spoke, so that Janet, alert to cadences in adult voices, wasn’t convinced.

After Daddy had gone to work and Stevie was at play and she was helping Mommy with the Saturday cleaning, she said, as casually as she could, “We couldn’t help hearing last night. I would have given Uncle Jimmy my savings, too, but I didn’t think they would help much. He sounded like he needed money awfully bad, and … and …” She faltered.

Mommy stopped working for just a second, then she went on, as if Janet had said nothing important.

In a minute Janet continued, “Uncle Jimmy has money, some money, in his pocket all the time. Really, sixty-seven cents isn’t much, except to Stevie.”

“You’re right, honey,” Mommy said then. But she didn’t add what Janet wanted so desperately to know.

Janet probed further.

“Of course, I understand why he took it. He wouldn’t let Stevie think his money wasn’t enough. Uncle Jimmy wouldn’t do that. But I’ve been wondering how much money he needs …” She couldn’t bring herself to say, “How much money must we have so that Uncle Jimmy will be happy, and daddy won’t have to go away, and you won’t have to worry about us? is there anything we can do to get it so we won’t lose our home?” But those questions fairly shouted themselves from her worried eyes.

Mommy gave up. She sat down on the edge of the bed and drew Janet close.

“We womenfolk all have to work together,” she said gently, “to keep the men and boys happy. They are so helpless. and I guess, after all, it will be up to you and me to settle this problem. You see, Uncle Jimmy’s got to go into the army, and maybe go away to fight, and maybe get hurt, and maybe, Janet, he’ll never come back. He wants to marry Anne Grayson before he goes away. he wants to take her to live down by the camp near him until he does go away. But he hasn’t any money, and Anne hasn’t any money or any family to help her out. Uncle Jimmy thinks if he could borrow two hundred and fifty dollars …” Mom’s voice caught, and her arm tighte3ned around Janet. “It seems such a little bit to stand between them and their happiness.”

“And Daddy?” Janet prompted very gently. “He’s Uncle Jimmy’s family.”

“Daddy just hasn’t the money, Janet. And he won’t borrow it.”

“Because of us,” Janet whispered to herself. “It’s Stevie and me that’s making Daddy say no to Uncle Jimmy. It’s Stevie and me, really, that’s standing between Uncle Jimmy and his happiness.”

“I don’t suppose I should have told you,” Mommy was saying. “You’re such a one to worry over other people’s troubles. But you were worried anyway, and I guess it is better to know something definite than it is to worry about something you can’t understand.”

Janet smiled up at her mother, “I’m not going to worry, Mommy,” she said, “and I’m glad you told me. Maybe I’ll figure a way out.”

“Don’t even try, honey,” Mommy said. “I’ve given it up and so has everyone else, I guess.”

“Not Uncle Jimmy!” cried Janet, aghast. “Uncle Jimmy won’t ever give up!”

Mommy smiled in spite of her worry.

“You’re pretty astute, aren’t you?” she murmured. Then she said, “No, not Uncle Jimmy. He’ll be back in two weeks, either with a way out or hoping we’ve found one for him!”

So now Janet knew what was wrong. It was plain as day. Uncle Jimmy wanted two hundred and fifty dollars so he could marry Anne. He wanted Daddy to get the money for him. But Daddy wouldn’t, because Daddy was afraid he might have to go to war, too! Here Janet’s stomach turned over. If Daddy ever went – and never came back – how would they ever stand it?

After a while her mind came back to the problem. The main thing was to get two hundred and fifty dollars before Uncle Jimmy came back in two weeks. Two hundred and fifty dollars! It was hopeless, almost. But nothing was ever absolutely hopeless to Janet. Her mind went over the problem again and again.

She thought of the Sunshine lady and her jolly friend, but dismissed them. Borrowing was out. She must get the money herself. Had she anything to sell? Could she get a job that would pay the amount she needed?

But Janet’s bright red head was as practical as it was noticeable, and she shook her curls vigorously as each question occurred to her. No. No. But she would find a way.

She puzzled over it all that day, her bright blue eyes examining everything that came her way, searching for a clue to a practical plan. And the next day, too, she went about her Sunday duties only half aware of what was going on, as she mentally scurried here and there for a way out of her dilemma.

At Sunday school she was brought sharply to a consciousness that Stevie, too, was thinking of money, perhaps only to recuperate his lost fortune, but definitely planning something.

Miss Gordon, the Sunday school teacher, had said, “We all ought to know the Lord’s Prayer, so I have brought a little card for each one. On it is printed this beautiful prayer, and I want you to take your cards home and memorize it. Next Sunday I’ll give the child who can repeat the prayer best a little hymn book, all for his own.”

The children were looking up at her, wide-eyed and silent, digesting the offer, when Stevie spoke up, his voice loud in the stillness of the room.

“Make it a quarter, instead,” he said.

Janet turned, startled, and Miss Gordon’s mouth dropped open.

“It’s gotta be cash,” Stevie persisted. “I’ll learn it for cash!”

There was a minor uproar at that, and Janet, discomfited, took her brother gently but firmly outside.

But Stevie didn’t care.

“You know very well we’ve got to have money, Janet,” was all he would say; and his sister, worried over money, too, was all too prone to nod her head in agreement.

Sunday passed, and Monday morning, picking up the scattered Sunday papers, Janet for the first time forgot her problem for a minute. There on the local page was the large photograph of a lovely, curly-headed little girl – her favorite movie actress a few years back – Shirley Temple.

Janet hadn’t seen a picture of Shirley for a long, long time, but she had scrapbooks filled with photographs she had clipped from newspapers and magazines when she was at the Home. She sat down, cross-legged on the floor, to read the story.

Only then did she notice pictures of other little girls surrounding the large picture of Shirley, and as she read she shook her head unbelievingly. The Morning Star was conducting a contest to find some little girl to take Shirley’s place in the hearts of theatregoers. Anyone could send in her photograph. She needn’t look like Shirley, just be sweet and lovable and someone the public would adore as they had adored the curly-headed little queen of pictures. There was a five hundred dollar cash prize for the winner.

The mention of money brought back Janet’s problem. She sat for a minute, her brow wrinkled, her head shaking. Then she got up, went to the mirror and examined the reflection there.

She showed no disappointment as she analyzed the situation. She had always known that she was not pretty. She was not even the kind most people loved, or she would not have had such a hard time getting a home for herself and Stevie. but Stevie …

She considered … The paper had said “little girl,” but anyone with half a mind would know that no little girl could take Shirley’s place. Perhaps, though, a little boy could. A little boy with dark red curls and a sprinkling of freckles and a smile that made everyone want to put protecting arms around him.

If she only had a picture of Stevie she would try it!

And she did have a picture – a lovely picture! It was the one the Sunshine Lady’s friend had taken and run in the paper – the one that had got them this home with the Allens. It had brought good luck before. It might again.

The only trouble was that Janet was on the picture, too. Well, she’d see.

She rushed into her room where the picture, nicely framed, hung on the wall to remind them of the sunshine Lady and her photographer friend. Carefully, Janet took it down, opened the frame at the back and took out the photograph. She smiled as she looked at Stevie. No one could help loving him.

She couldn’t bear to spoil the picture by cutting her own portrait off; but after thinking a few minutes, she hit upon a plan. She went into the living room and took a piece of folded stationary. She slipped this over the photograph on the side where her face came, cut across it so that Stevie showed, but she was covered, and fastened it securely in place with paper clips. Then she printed on it in black letters:

Do not remove this paper.

The picture of Stevie Allen is entered in your contest. I think a boy would be better than a girl, don’t you? No girl can ever take Shirley’s place, so why try?

Janet hunted about till she found a big envelope. She put the photograph in it, addressed it exactly as the paper directed, and then remembered the stamp.

She had had a rather discomfiting experience with stamps at the Home, so this time she played safe. she went to her mother.

“Mommy,” she began, “can I have a stamp?”

“Certainly, Janet,” Mrs. Allen smiled. “Can you tell me what you want it for?”

“I’d rather not,” Janet hesitated, “if you please. I’ll tell you later – after a while.”

Her mother looked at her for a moment and then said, “I’ll tell you what! I need some stamps myself. I’ll give you a quarter, and you take your letter down to the post office at the drug store and get some stamps. Use what you need, and bring the rest of the quarter’s worth of stamps back.”

Janet took the coin, flung her arms around her mother, slipped back into her room and got the enveloped. Then she remembered the empty frame. Mommy would notice that first thing. She hesitated, then clipped the picture of Shirley Temple from the paper, put it under the glass, and hung the picture back on the wall. Mommy would think she had put the newspaper picture over hers and Stevie’s.

She slipped out of the house and ran to the corner.

Wednesday brought a letter addressed to “Miss Stevie Allen.”

Mommy handed it to Janet, who slipped into her bedroom, shut the door carefully, and sat down to read her letter. It was from the Morning Star and started out excitingly,

Congratulations!

You are one of the twenty lucky children chosen for the finals in the Morning Star – Shirley Temple Substitute Contest.

Janet wet her lips and read on. She was to appear at the Arcade Theatre Friday morning, with the other nineteen lucky children, when the final winner would be chosen.

It took some time to puzzle out all the big words, but at last the meaning was clear. Only, of course, it was Stevie who was to go. They had just made a mistake and written Miss instead of Mr. Well, she would fix him up and take him.

She went slowly into the living room and stood before her mother.

“Mommy,” she began, and stopped.

“Mommy, I don’t have many secrets from you – and I wouldn’t have this one … only … only … well, I won’t have it much longer. I’ll tell you all about it in a few days. But now I just want to do something and not have you ask me any questions or worry about it. May I?”

Mommy always seemed to understand. She smiled now.

“Why, of course, sweetheart,” she said. “There are times, every once in a while, when we want to do something first and explain afterward. And you always have such sensible plans, dear. Go ahead. Neither Mommy nor Daddy will interfere.”

Janet looked up gratefully. She knew mothers didn’t like little girls to do things without asking or explaining, and she wouldn’t do it very often – but this time …

“Well,” she explained, “it isn’t much, really. I just want to take Stevie to town Friday, dressed in his very best clothes.”

Janet could see a smile of relief, faint as a shadow, cross her mother’s face. She had learned, years ago in the Home, to catch the swiftest adult expressions and interpret them.

“It’s all right, dear. Go right ahead with your plan, and when you’re ready, come and tell Mother, won’t you?

So Friday morning, Stevie, scrubbed and brushed and dressed in his best, was being escorted downtown by a rather disheveled eleven-year-old sister, who had taken such pains with the boy’s appearance that she had had no time to spend on herself.

It was easy to find the Arcade Theater; they had gone there to special Saturday morning matinees often enough. But on Friday morning the place looked deserted and frightening.

Holding Stevie’s hand very tight, Janet went up the foyer and peered into the auditorium. It was buzzing with voices; moving about in the big hall down near the stage was, what seemed to Janet, a tiny handful of people. The two children tiptoed down the aisle.

When Janet came nearer to the people she was horrified to see that all of the group were feminine – mothers and little girls. Stevie was the only boy in the crowd. Well, so much the better.

Stevie, unaware of what was being planned for him – Janet had been wise enough not to explain anything but the fact that they were going downtown to see a man – sat down as Janet directed, and paid little attention to the people about him.

Then a man came out on the stage and explained that as each name was called, the child was to come up onto the stage, walk across it, answer questions, and do anything the judges requested. The lights went on, the curtain went up, and there sat a half dozen men and women, who were to pick the substitute for Shirley Temple.

A name was called, and a chubby little girl with yellow hair, twisted into a mass of bobbing curls, was led onto the stage by her mother.

“The mothers will please remain in the audience,” said the man firmly. After some spluttering, the woman went back to her seat, and the child stood alone before the judges.

A man spoke, and the child curtsied. Janet watched, fascinated. Others spoke to the child, and the little girl danced and sang and recited pieces. Janet was amazed. Here was a real actress already. Stevie wouldn’t have a chance.

After the chubby little girl had taken her seat beside her beaming mama, another name was called, and then another. Four or five children had gone through their paces before one little girl, confused at the demands of the judges, began to cry and looked about for her mother.

One of the judges rose from her seat and came swiftly to the child, knelt and put an arm about the shaking shoulders. Janet’s heart stood still. It was the Sunshine Lady! What could she do? Where could she go? How could she send Stevie out there with the Sunshine Lady watching?

But the Sunshine Lady led the little girl off the stage, and before Janet had decided what to do, she heard, “Stevie Allen.”

With a “do or die” expression, she grasped Stevie’s hand and dragged him along the aisle toward the steps leading onto the stage. But the man at the foot of the steps stopped them.

“You go up alone, Stevie,” he said, looking straight at Janet.

Janet shook her head.

“I’m not Stevie!” she cried. “I’m Janet! This is Stevie.”

The man looked at the photograph he held in his hand, face down.

“It says here Stevie Allen,” he persisted.

“Yes, but it’s him!” Janet shoved Stevie forward.

The man turned the photograph over. The face of Janet looked seriously out at him. Over part of the picture a piece of white paper had been clipped.

Janet’s heart turned over. She didn’t know how it could have happened, but Stevie’s face was covered and the paper said, “Do not remove this paper. The picture of Stevie Allen.”

“But Stevie is a boy!” cried Janet.

One of the judges came over.

“Our slip says, Stephanie Allen,” he said. “Where is she?”

Janet felt like shaking them; they were so stupid.

“There isn’t any Stephanie Allen,” she said. “It is Stevie! I entered him in the contest!”

There was a gasp of amazement behind her, and another judge came to the edge of the stage.

“She says she entered a boy in the contest!” Janet thought it sounded as if she had done something awful.

Just then the Sunshine Lady came back. She saw Janet, and, with a little cry of recognition, she came toward her.

“Janet, darling! Are you in the contest! How lovely!”

“No!” Janet shook her head emphatically. “It’s Stevie! Stevie!”

The Sunshine Lady laughed.

“But that’s impossible. It’s a contest for girls only.”

“The paper didn’t say that!” said Janet stoutly.

“Oh, Roger!” called the Sunshine Lady, straightening up and looking off to the back of the stage. “Do come here. This is priceless!”

And from behind the stage came the smiling photographer himself.

“Hello, Kid!” he beamed, but before he got further there was an interruption from behind, among the mothers. Several of the women were crying, “It’s not fair! The judges know her! Put her out! The idea! A boy!”

It was such a mess! Janet wanted to cry, wanted to run away, wanted to hide. But she stood there, firm as a rock, holding Stevie’s hand. At last the judges went into a huddle, where the man who had been calling off the names begged the mothers to sit down and wait a minute. They didn’t sit down, and they didn’t stop talking; but they had to wait.

At last the man came to the front of the stage, held out his hands for quiet and, when the mothers were listening, he explained.

“It is through no fault of the Morning Star that this mix-up has occurred,” he said. “We gave the list of names to the judges, and they assured us that they knew none of the children. But the name Stephanie Allen was assumed to be the name of this little girl, and it was so handed in. Therefore, the Sunshine Lady, whom you all know is absolutely fair and square, didn’t recognize it. She is willing to withdraw as a judge, but that would not eliminate the trouble, as the little girl has already attracted a good deal of attention, which you mothers might feel was unfair to your child.

“On the other hand, the little girl’s photograph won fairly a chance to be one of the twenty finalists. So it wouldn’t be fair to eliminate her.

“The judges feel that the best thing to do now, is to have this photographer take pictures of every child, and present these pictures, anonymously, to a new set of judges.

“It seems the only thing we can do, in fairness to everyone.”

Some of the mothers were still angry, but others nodded in agreement.

“If any mother doesn’t care to go on with the contest, she is at liberty to withdraw her child now,” the man went on firmly.

No one wanted to withdraw, so that’s the way it was settled.

But Janet spoke up.

“I don’t want to be a substitute for Shirley Temple. I couldn’t anyway. And I don’t like my picture taken. Can’t Stevie …”

But the angry mothers drowned her out, so she sat down, miserably, to wait her turn.

Roger took great pains with the pictures. He coaxed smiles and dimples out of the children; he took shot after shot of each one. But at last it was Janet’s turn, and she walked, slowly and sadly, up onto the stage.

Roger beamed at her.

“Come on, Janet,” he begged, “a smile for old time’s sake!” And then, more seriously, “If you entered Stevie, you had a reason. I’ll bet it was a deep, dark reason, too. Well, think of that, kid, and let the banners fly!”

Janet did think. She had forgotten Uncle Jimmy and Anne and the prize money. Now she remembered, and her head went up and her curls flamed defiantly, and her lips, almost ready to cry, smiled.

“Atta girl!” beamed Roger.

By the time Janet got home she couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. She had disgraced the family and had made herself look silly. She crept into her room, flung herself across her bed and wept.

Mommy came in quietly and sat beside her, stroking the bright curls, waiting for Janet to want to talk. And at last the story came tumbling out, choked sentence after choked sentence.

Mommy spoke gently when Janet stopped.

“It’s all right, dear,” she said. “You did what you could, and that is all any of us can do. And who knows, maybe even yet you’ll win.”

“But I can’t. My pictures are awful! I’m not pretty!”

“What about the picture Roger took before?” Mommy asked softly. “He’s a pretty good photographer, you know, and he likes you a lot. Maybe he caught a picture of the real Janet, the Janet we all love. If he did, it might easily be a winner.”

And that is exactly what Roger had done, as anyone could see on Sunday morning when the Morning Star showed Janet almost as big as life, with an expression of wistfulness and gallantry and shyness that went straight to the heart, and announced that she had won the contest.

It had been kept a secret from Daddy, Janet insisting that the men not be bothered with this affair unless it turned out well, and now he was wild with excitement and enthusiasm.

The telephone ran all morning with people to congratulate Janet and Mommy, and before breakfast, noisy and happy, came Roger and the Sunshine Lady and the managing editor of the Morning Star to hand her her check in person.

There was quite a little scene, with Daddy beaming proudly and Mommy smiling through happy tears and Stevie wondering what it was all about.

Mr. Oakes, the managing editor, stood on a chair and made a speech and held a pink slip of paper toward Janet.

“And here, lucky young lady, perhaps successor to Shirley Temple, is your prize – our check for five hundred dollars!”

Janet reached up to take the paper, and Roger’s camera flashed.

She stood looking at the pink slip for a minute. Then she shook her head and handed it back.

“If you don’t mind,” she said, timidly yet resolutely, “I’d rather have money. It’s just gotta be cash!”

Daddy laughed excitedly.

“We can get the cash in the morning, sweetheart!” he said.

“Then we can give Uncle Jimmy what he needs, and … and …” Suddenly her arms were around her Daddy, and she was holding him close and crying, “Oh, Daddy, there’ll be some left over, won’t there? If you have to go … if you just have to go, you won’t have to worry about Stevie and me! We won’t be any trouble to Mommy! I promise we won’t.”

Daddy kissed her gently.

“Why, of course you won’t!” he said, “Whatever made you think …”

“You said …”

“Goodness, sweetheart, I might have said anything when Jim had me going round and round the way he did. But the fact is, I would hate like everything to go away and leave Mommy all alone without you and Stevie to take care of her.” His voice was very grave, very earnest. “Believe me, sweetheart, your being here with Mommy will help out like everything, because I know you’ll take just as good care of her as I could.”

Janet smiled and gave her Daddy a special hug, then turned to Mr. Oakes. “I guess I forgot to thank you,” she said, and her smile was like sunshine in the room, “but I didn’t mean to forget. My!” she sighed, “I can’t tell you how glad I am that you gave me the prize. You don’t know how bad I needed that cash!”



4 Comments »

  1. Awww, this is sweet. And it’s a good thing we didn’t have to wait for another episode to find out who won the contest. If there is another episode with discrimination lawsuits filed by the stage mamas, please don’t post it. :-)

    Comment by Ellen — November 11, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

  2. Stage mamas out, more Janet and Stevie stories to come. We aim to please!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 11, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  3. Hooray! I’m so glad I had the time to read this.

    I’m rather surprised that the mother was so trusting. I would have been much more worried.

    Comment by HokieKate — November 13, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  4. So glad you liked it. Really, I love these Janet and Stevie stories.

    I’m approximately 20 years younger than Janet would have been, but looking back at how free range we were in the ’60s and ’70s, I don’t think my mother would have had any hesitation about giving me the same freedom Janet had, as long as my homework was done and I didn’t have band practice or something. It’s a different world now for sure.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 13, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

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