A Day in 1942
Gertie looked up from her desk as the door to WENN opened. She was shocked at the sight of Eugenia, leaning against the door, grasping a newspaper. Instead of greeting Gertie with her usual cheery, 'good morning!', Eugenia looked as dazed as she did when she was working day and night shifts. Gertie knew something was drastically wrong. She got up from the desk to steady Eugenia as she looked like she wasn't going to be able to stand up by herself much longer.
"Green room," was all Eugenia managed to whisper as Gertie caught her arm.
Gertie supported her down the hall, listening to her murmuring all the way, "not this, oh please, not this."
There had been no major news of bombings or air raids on the teletype this morning, so Gertie was confused.
Upon entering the green room, Maple looked up from pouring out a cup of coffee and almost burned herself with it as she saw Eugenia's state of being. She put the cup on the table and helped Gertie get Eugenia into a chair. Gertie and Maple sat down on either side of her, concerned and wondering what horrible news was about to befall them. Maple pushed the cup of coffee toward Eugenia to try and get her to talk. She tried to drink, but her hands were too unsteady.
"Eugenia, please tell us quickly, it will be much better out in the open," Maple prompted.
"Oh, I knew there would be wartime sacrifices. I knew we would have to give up some things for the good of the nation. I know it's our patriotic duty. This, this is just….", and she trailed off leaving Gertie and Maple more worried than ever.
Betty entered the green room humming "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and stopped immediately at seeing the group huddled at the table.
"Eugenia, is everything all right?" was all she could ask. Eugenia looked at her as if trying to process what she had just said.
Betty joined the group at the table.
The door swung open again and Hilary entered. "I wonder what's in store for Pittsburgh's listening pleasure today. More amnesia for Brent? Perhaps Daphne will discover she was kidnapped as a baby and is really a Yankee. Oh, I know; Rance Shiloh goes undercover as a saloon girl." She managed all of this while crossing to the hot plate and pouring her own cup of coffee. Finally looking up she said, "what happened to you, Eugenia? You look like you just had a narrow escape from a trolley."
Eugenia mutely thrust the newspaper up to Hilary. Hilary put her coffee on the table and started scanning the headlines for what could possibly be tormenting Eugenia so. When she found it, only Maple's seeing a drastic change in her eyes and her quick decision to jump up and pull out the last chair from the table kept Hilary from winding up on the floor.
Hilary looked at Eugenia in sisterly understanding.
"Will someone please tell us what is going on? This is worse than listening to Jeff and Victor broadcast from London." Gertie demanded.
Hilary drew herself together as only Hilary Booth could and read in her best dramatic voice (to cover how much she was crumbling inside) "The Hershey Chocolate Company announced that production of the popular Hershey Kiss will be suspended for the duration as the foil used for wrapping is needed for war purposes."
There was silence all around the table. There was silence throughout the green room. Outside the city of Pittsburgh was marking the day with its usual cacophony of sounds; but none of it penetrated through the thick walls and into the studios and offices of radio station WENN.
Finally the silence was broken by Eugenia grasping to one final hope, "couldn't they just wrap them in something else?" she asked, looking for a glimmer of encouragement from anyone seated at the table. But there was none.
All of the women were trying to imagine a life without Hershey Kisses.
The door to the green room swung open almost violently as Jeff intruded on their musings, "Hilary, Eugenia...time for 'Bedside Manor'….mmmm, mmmm, Ingram's coffee!"
He noticed the distraught looks.
Getting no response from any of these he knew desperate actions needed to be taken.
That did it.
"Jeffrey Singer, how dare you come in here and add insult to injury. Losing Hershey Kisses is bad enough; keep that up and you'll be losing any sort of kiss."
Mackie had come in to hurry Jeff along and only caught the end of this. "What?" was all he could manage.
"Hershey is stopping production of Kisses for the duration."
Mackie shrugged, "it's just chocolate."
Seeing a dangerous look in not only Hilary's eyes, but the eyes of every woman around the table, Jeff pushed Mackie behind him.
"Ladies, I know this is difficult, but we have to remember that this is part of what we need to do to defeat Hitler. Some people are working overnight to build the planes and ships."
Somewhere around here Mackie decided to help by humming "God Bless, America".
Jeff continued over the underscoring, "some people are searching our skies for enemy planes. Some people, like CJ, are fighting for us. It's our patriotic duty to give up our Kisses and entertain Pittsburgh. Come on, let's give Pittsburgh its Ingram's wake up call."
"That's enough Mackie Bloom, we're coming," Hilary glared.
"For goodness sake, we know this is minor inconvenience, we just needed a moment to get used to it," Gertie explained.
Rising from the table, Maple put in her two cents, "maybe we could have a little going away party for them. You know, get some and have a little get together right here at the station."
"That's a great idea, Maple, I'll go out and get some before they disappear from store shelves; but I won't get too many, because I don't want to hoard them from other women," Betty offered.
"Yes, yes," Eugenia said as she pulled herself up and bravely marched into Studio A knowing that a Kiss was a small sacrifice to bring CJ and all the rest of the boys home sooner.