Vol. 10


The Lady in White

c. 1918–1925; Munich, Bavaria, Germany; Cairo, Illinois, USA

Would you believe me if I said I wouldn’t be alive if my great-grandpa hadn’t had a dream? Well, it’s true!

In 1918 my great-grandpa Joe and his mother were living on a German military base while his stepfather was bravely fighting in World War I. Grandpa Joe had just been told the devastating news that his stepfather had been killed and that he and his mother would have to leave the base after the war. Joe felt that he had to help provide for his mother, so he went in search of a job. At sixteen years old, the only job he could find was working as a cook’s helper on a merchant marine ship that sailed all over the world. Joe took the job reluctantly, because he didn’t want to have to leave his mother, the only person he had left. He may not have known it then, but he was in for quite an adventure.

Upon setting sail, Grandpa Joe met Carl, whom he would later name his oldest son after. He and Carl quickly became best friends, and they told each other everything. After two years of sailing, Grandpa Joe began having a very peculiar dream. In his dream, he was working in the ship’s kitchen when a beautiful lady in white appeared next to him. She was frantically telling him that he needed to get off the ship. He had the same dream several nights in a row, and it disturbed him so he confided in Carl. Carl then told him something that would amaze him for the rest of his life: Carl had been having the same dream. They talked and decided to make the risky decision to get off the ship at the next port, Savannah, Georgia, and not return. Grandpa Joe did not know any English, but he quickly taught himself by listening to others speak. He and Carl worked at various jobs and eventually made their way to Cairo, Illinois.

In Cairo they found work at a meatpacking plant and made just enough money for a pack of cigarettes each week, and room and board. Grandpa Joe met and fell in love with a beautiful girl named Dorothy. After they were married, he decided to write to his mother to tell her everything that had happened.

His mother was astonished when she received the letter, because she had believed Joe was dead. She had received news that the SS Heinrich Kayser, the ship he had been on, had sunk on December 6, 1922, off the coast of Newfoundland. When she read that he was alive and well, she nearly fell over from the great amount of joy in her heart. Grandpa Joe continued to write to his mother throughout the years, and he and Carl remained best friends.

Grandpa Joe had always believed God had sent the lady in white as his angel to save him. He taught all nine of his children, and later his grandchildren, to always trust in God and His plan.

Josie Pagano; Missouri, USA


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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