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  You Can't Tell a Book by Its Cover
Anita Adams retired from a career in newspaper advertising at five different newspapers, followed by a second career as a Meat/Food Inspector for the State of California and Southwest Airlines. Always a Pollyanna, she always knew tomorrow would be better! But sometimes tomorrow took a long time.

I looked down the aisle of the plane; there was only one person aboard our connecting flight from San Francisco to New York via Chicago's O'Hare airport to LaGuardia airport. The old woman sitting halfway down on my left in the aisle seat, had her arms folded, and looked like she'd just had a sip of vinegar.

"Oh, Lord!" I thought, "PLEASE don't let those be our seats!"

They were.

My husband, John, always let me have the window seat, so he would have to sit next to the old biddy on this over two-hour flight.

John was an affable person, so he kept trying to engage the old woman in conversation. She was seemingly unapproachable. Not to worry, he just forged ahead telling her this was our very first trip to New York. Since he was from a Lithuanian, Irish family in St. Louis, he was looking forward to finding some Krakow sausage; it's a type of Polish sausage not found in California in the '70's. Since we didn't know anyone in New York to ask about it, he thought she might know.

All of a sudden, this silent person who'd been enduring John's overtures of conversation, turned, held out her crooked, arthritic finger, bent over to retrieve a bag she'd shoved under the seat in front of her. Inside was a chub of Krakow sausage! I was stunned! Out of all the airplane flights in the history of aviation, how many people ever had a chub of Krakow sausage with them? Life is weird.

The woman broke off a chunk of this delicacy served cold and gave it to John, who looked like he'd just received a piece of Heaven.

In the next couple of hours this amazing woman, who'd apparently been moved when John told her we didn't know anyone in New York. She told us her story:

Background 1940: *The Warsaw ghetto was the largest Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Europe. Established by the Germans in October 1940, and sealed that November, the ghetto housed approximately 400,000 Jews. 700 young Jewish fighters participated in what became known as the Warsaw ghetto uprising.


During the uprising, the civilian Population in the ghetto also resisted German forces by refusing to assemble at collection points and burrowing in underground bunkers. At least 7,000 Jews died fighting or in hiding in the ghetto. Approximately 7,000 Jews were captured by the SS and police at the end of the fighting. These Jews were deported to the Treblinka killing center where they were murdered.

After the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the SS and police deported approximately 42,000 Jews to forced-labor camps and to the Lubin/Majdanek (sounds like muh DAA nuhk) concentration camp. Most of these people were murdered in November 1943 in a two-day shooting operation known as Operation Harvest Festival (Emtefest).

This woman and her two daughters escaped with her husband sacrificing himself for their freedom. She, and her daughters eventually made their way to New York City in the '40's. They spoke little English and knew no one. It was an amazing story and the old woman had tears in her eyes as she recounted their journey.

I was astonished at what had just happened; the woman metamorphosed from a nearly catatonic state into a beautiful, precious soul right in front of my eyes.

She asked about us and wrote down our names, and the room number we were staying in at the Midtown Manhattan Hilton Hotel. She called almost every day to make sure we were okay, suggesting several sights we needed to experience. We continued to communicate for a few years.

You just can't tell a book by its cover . . . so to speak. Love is a language all its own. Does God have a plan for our lives or was this just a coincidence to teach me a lesson of humility and grace?

*Holocaust Encyclopedia

~ Anita Duncan Adams


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