1931: The Year Everything Changed

Lauren Luedtke, guest writer

Madeline Rose May was born October 24,1909, into a wealthy family of three: her loving parents and her older sister, Grace. Her family held a considerable amount of wealth, leaving her with little knowledge of middle-class conundrums. She had little to no challenges in life; unfortunately, this changed when nine-year-old Madeline had to bear the pain of losing her beloved mother to the Influenza epidemic, which “swept the world in 1918 killing over fifty million people” (The Influenza). Many years after, her father paid for her college tuition at Columbia University in the city of New York, paid for her apartment, and gave her extra cash for additional expenses. Today, August 12, 1931, twenty-two year old Madeline Rose May is happily dating Jack Manchester, who is a construction worker, currently finishing the George Washington Bridge in New York City.

1931: The Year Everything Changed
August 27, 1931
5:01 P.M.
New York City
I felt a soft, dolorous tear slowly make its way down my cheek as I stood at the podium in front of the people I grew to love. As I began to speak hopeful words in a tone full of sorrow, I could not help but see beautiful memories with the man I thought I would finish life with flash before my eyes.
July 14, 1931
7:30 P.M.
As I heard a knock at my apartment door, I began to feel butterflies float up to my heart. As I opened the door, my eyes were filled with the view of a studly, rough, yet charming man- Jack Manchester.
“Happy three-year-anniversary, Beautiful. Are you ready to go?”
As I placed the lovely bouquet of peonies and pink roses into a vase, I answered with a smile full of love, “Happy anniversary, Jack. Let’s go!”
Without a pause in movement, he opened the car door for me, displaying uncommon gallantry that hasn’t failed him for the past three years. The warm summer air softly brushed against my cheeks as we drove to the top of a hill in his stunning Cadillac Convertible.
“I planned something a little different this year. I hope you like it,” Jack said.
“And what might that be?” I responded with a blushing grin.
“I guess you will have to wait and see,” He flirtingly responds as his fingers intertwines with mine and we continue towards the unknown destination.
My eyes are stuck on him as my thoughts float away into a dream of our future. I am awakened by his voice ringing with excitement.
“Look out your window!”
My view was filled with the beautiful sight of white lights following continuous arches, as if they were hugging the structure and giving life to it. The nearly finished George Washington Bridge was a proud sight for both Jack and I.
“Can you grab the picnic basket from the back?”
“A picnic and a marvelous view, you are quite the romantic, Jack.”
As we laugh and fill each other with love and happiness, the night comes to an end.
“My love, I want to cherish every moment with you, keep every memories in our eyes, and every smile on your face. Close your eyes,” Jack says in a passionate tone. I feel his hand grab mine with a light grip as he places my fingers against a cold metal like surface.
“Okay, open!”
I was astonished when I opened my eyes to an English All-Distance Twenty Camera, that had just come out this year.
“How did you manage to get me the latest camera?”
“There is no price I wouldn’t pay because of my love for you, Darling.”
That night was perfect.
August 24, 1931
Knock! Knock!
I rushed to my door excited to see my love, Jack.
The next moment was a heart break words cannot describe.
“Good evening ma’am. We are sorry to inform you that Jack Manchester was one of the “twelve men who passed while building the George Washington Bridge” (Today). His hard work will be appreciated for many lifetimes.
At that moment my heart stopped, my life seemed to bury itself in tears and anger. I couldn’t fathom why my man had to be one of the men to go.
The pain took over my body; my arms and hands were controlled by a raging anger that overwhelmed all my emotions. As I frantically grabbed anything in my eyesight, my ears were filled with the sound of objects breaking. It felt comforting, but still could not compare to the feeling of my heart breaking. Tears flowed down my face like a waterfall after a rain storm. Blood crawled its way out of my skin, but still did not hurt as badly as my heart. I thought this was the end.
August 27, 1931
5:02 P.M.
“To the one I love.”
As I began to speak, I knew the words I wanted to say would bring more weight of sorrow onto the crowd. I also knew the words I needed to say, which would lift the crowd up and bring a smile of hope to their faces.
“The memories we had together made my life complete. You always had a smile on your face, bringing happiness into this world. . . ,” wiping a tear and catching my breath, I continued. “I fell in love with the way you walked into a room and brightened it, as a light in the darkness. In words, I cannot describe the man you were, but I don’t have to; you left a beautiful, wonderful legacy in this world. And for that, I am forever grateful because you left me with hope for good and memories that will never be forgot. . .”
September 14, 1931
My life was turned upside down.
I looked around my apartment, a mess of shattered pieces reflecting the pain that was bundled up inside me. My eyes fell upon a book in the corner of the rubble. It felt as if there was a force pulling me towards it. Words began to stream into my soul like a drink of water after being stranded in the desert for years, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous” (Josh. 10:25). I could not understand how one could be anything but discouraged during such a painful time. Impatiently looking for help, I flipped the pages. As if He was answering my question, I read these words, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It felt like there was a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. Although the tears left stains on my face, I knew that there was a greater power carrying the pain for me.
December 10, 1931
My Christmas is completely different than I would have ever imagined. I have been spending my holiday volunteering at a soup kitchen in New York City. The smiles on the many families faces has brought a new hope into my life. Although, this decision was not my own, but inspired by Jack Manchester. I believe that through the lives he has touched, his unfailing compassion will be shared with the world. His love will never end, instead it will be like a tree reaching its branches out and touching the world.
Works Cited
“The Influenza Epidemic of 1918.” The Deadly Virus. N.p., N.d., Web. 23 January 2018.
“Today in labor history: George Washington bridge opened.” People’s World. N.p., N.d., Web. 28 January 2018

Bobek, Milan. Decades of The 1930s 20th Century. Eldorado Ink. 2005. Print.
“Historical Events in 1931.” On This Day. N.p., 2000-2018. Web. 14 January 2018.
The Bible. New Living Transition, Box Lea ed., Zondervan, 2015.
“The Great Depression, World War II, and the 1930s.” ThoughtCo. N.p., N.d., Web. 14 January 2018