This American Life Part 2

STORY TWO: IN GOD WE TRUST (episode #489- “No Coincidence, No Story!”)

My next story is a little more uplifting. In an episode about coincidences, I had a hard time even believing this one was true at first. Paul was working in a Chicago suburb and went to a deli while contemplating whether or not to ask the girl he was seeing, Esther, to be exclusive. When he got his change back, he noticed the dollar bill he had gotten had her name on it. He figured it was a sign, and they became boyfriend and girlfriend that week. When he showed it to her, she began to freak out. She said she had to tell him something, but it would have to be way later.

Years later, they’re engaged. When moving into their apartment together, he finally asks her what she had to tell him. Esther says that years and years ago she was working at a coffee shop in Chicago and was in a very unhappy relationship. She couldn’t figure out what made people know they were right for eachother. So, she took 10 dollar bills and wrote her name on them. She figured that whoever got the dollar bill would bring it to her and be the person she would marry. She was right! Paul and Esther have been married for 19 years now.

STORY 3: YES, THERE IS A BABY (episode #175, “Babysitting)

Everyone knows the 1940s were a different time. Still, listening to this story I was shocked. This story is my favorite out of every one I’ve ever heard.

Growing up without a father, Myron and Carol had a hard time living with only their mother. Even though Carol was older than Myron, they had two completely different sets of rules. Myron was allowed out of the house at any time. He was out late and was able to do whatever he wanted. Carol however, was barely allowed out at all. She had to explain exactly what she would be doing and who it was with, multiple times. She was allowed to school, church, and some church dances but not all of them– only the ones their mom saw fit. Her mother even had people follow Carol to make sure she was doing what she said. According to Carol, her mother was calling her a whore before she even knew what the word was, or how it was spelled.

Angry, Carol hatched a plan. She invented a fake family, the McCrearys, who she supposedly babysat for. But she had to figure out how to have her mom not know the family was fake. She told her mother the father of the McCrearys was an FBI agent, so they couldn’t have a phone or let anyone know where they lived because it would be too dangerous. To explain why Carol wasn’t getting paid, she insisted the father was putting all of her wages into “stocks and bonds”, because since Carol’s family was poor, she knew her mother would have no idea of what they were, only that “fancy people” used them. The fake kids had a whole life, and extremely detailed personalities.

When summer came, Carol and Myron wanted to stay out even later. They invented a summer cottage for the McCrearys, that the siblings would have to work at overnight. Carol describes that summer as glorious. They would sometimes have friends who had summer homes, or they would pitch in and stay somewhere. When they would have no house to go, Carol and Myron would sleep on the beach. Listening to Carol talk about this, you can feel like you were there. She says it was the best nights of her adolescence.

One day, the kids were coming home from “babysitting”. Their mom was furious. Myron was terrified that their mother had somehow found out about their lie, but Carol stayed cool. When their mom asked where they were and Carol immediatelyadmently attested to being at the McCrearys, their mom said “Well you are a couple of damn liars! I was just on the phone with Mrs. McCreary and she said you haven’t been there in weeks!” After this, they stopped talking about the McCrearys. Their mother often would talk about seeing the McCrearys at the grocery store, or out and about. Carol says she really believed this.

The kids say they got the notion of fantasy people from their mother. The mom had three pretend people she would go see: a. A lawyer, a therapist, and a doctor. The lawyer was to make arrangements for Carol and Myron to be put in an orphanage. The therapist was apparently telling her the kids were driving her crazy, and the doctor would saysays she’s going to die because the kids were so terrible.

When Carol and Myron’s mother died in 2002, she was never told that the McCreary’s were fake. They had kept that secret for about 60 years.

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