West Allis has a good Samaritan from the greatest generation

To the editor:

I was sitting at West Allis Griddlers Café. A woman who looked older than I was in the booth across from me.  She had grayish-white hair and kept to herself. I gave her a “Good Morning” smile, but she did not reciprocate.

After a time two older men came in. They sat at the booth kitty corner from me and opposite the older lady. Looking frail, one the men gently lowered himself in the booth seat. In no time the two were cheerful and delighting in each other’s company. The female customer seemed to notice that, also.

We all continued to eat our breakfasts. Then, I noticed the older lady cupping her hand when speaking to her waitress.  Whispering, she said, “I want to pay for the two older men’s breakfast in the next table.”

The waitress asked, “Should I tell the men that you are treating them?”

The woman simply said “No.”

I was attentively waiting for the moment of truth. Was she going to say anything to the two gentlemen? I observed her hesitate for a moment. Then, she approached the booth with the two men and told them “I loved to see the two of you smiling and your camaraderie. You are our United States’ Greatest Generation.

“I want to honor you with a breakfast treat. I am also from that generation.”

They smiled, when they learned that they were being treated and graciously thanked her. That was that. I had the pleasure of observing the entire random act of kindness.

I called out to the older lady twice, but she was out the door. Struggling, I caught up to her. I told her, “You don’t know me, but I observed your act of kindness to the two older gentlemen.” Then we began to talk about her actions. She said “I have the means to buy them breakfast.”

She said, “I came from a town in Wisconsin near the Upper Michigan border. After high school graduation, I moved to Milwaukee and found a job at the Miller brewery. This was during World War II.” She recalled the day in Milwaukee when the War was won by the Allies. People were released from work to celebrate. She recalled, “I saw scenes like the famous picture in Life magazine, showing a sailor embracing and kissing a young woman during the celebration.  It was wonderful, we won.”

She shared, “The young men and women who fought in the war or worked in the factories were indeed part of the Greatest Generation. I had a factory job and worked for 35 years at Briggs and Stratton. I am reasonably well off.”

She shared the three of them were in their mid-80s. She likes to do nice things for her generation. “I collect clothes from family and friends to give to Father Gene’s Help Center on National Avenue.” She also gives financial aid to the Salvation Army. She concluded, “It is my time to pay back.”

This letter was shortened.

Janice Babcock


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