It was early in january. Helen Kane left the apartment at 77-12 35th St., Jackson Heights, N. Y., and went to the corner candy store. She gave a $5 check to the man and brought a paper. He was turning the check over and over as she read a column about how poor she was. She looked at the man again and began to laugh.
"Is it about you?" he said. "Let me see." she laughed harder. "If i showed you this writeup." she said, "you wouldn't cash the check."
After that, things began to happen for the one-time Boop-Boop-a-Doop lady. And for the husband who idolizes her. Dan Healy. Letters began to come in. They came in from all over the country. They were from strangers. Some had dollar bills. Some had fives and tens. Some had prayers. Some had mass cards.
Phone calls offering help came from Walter O'keefe and Lila Lee. Harold Arlen sent $100. So did Ave Berman and Seymour Weiss of New Orleans and Richard Jacobson and Charley Daly. William Lengel of The Lambs Club arranged for an actors group to send Healy $50 a week for six weeks. Dimes and quarters came in little apologetic etters and they totaled $910.
Ralph Edwards phoned Dan and arranged to put Helen Kane on "This Is Your Life." If the secret could be kept from her. IT was. Edwards maintained the Healys in luxury in Hollywood and gave Miss Kane $1.500. More than 40 million people saw the shw. This generous man also went out and got Miss Kane a job at Hollywood's Moulin Rouge at $1,750 a week for two weeks in April.
Still, to my way of thinking, the person the Healys will never forget is Mrs Florence Valentine, Salt Lake City, Utah. She read the column and wrote:
"Please write and tell me how much it would take to get your jewels out of hock. I once had a diamond ring i used to hock for $50, one my mother gave me for my 18th birthday. She never knew how often i used her loving gift to keep going. She would have been hurt.
"I'm neither rich nor important. I dnt want to be mentioned in any publicity. But i have a soft spot in my heart for wives who go all out for their husbands and husbands who appreciate it...."
There was a check for $100 in the letter. Helen Kane read it twice. Tears came. "How can people be this good?" she said to Dan. "I never met this woman. She sounds like she hasn't got much herself."
A week later, Florence Valentine phoned Helen and Dan. She said that she had a check for $10,000 which the goverment had sent to settle a claim. "It's a down payment on a house i'm buying for my children." she said. "I need it badly, Miss Kane, But i thought that if you could get your jewels out of hock, and then sell them, you'd have some extra money and i'd get my money back."
That ight neither of the Healys could eat dinner. Helen toldMrs Valentine not to do it. that the jewelry came to her easily when she was rich and famous, and she didn;t mind watching it go now. It would cost $8.000 to get the rings and bracelets out of the pawn shops.
A letter arrived with a check two days later. "I thought you might have other pressing needs so i am sending $10,000 instead of $8,000. If you don't need it fine. If so, use it. The $100 is for a new hat or dinner on the town or anything you might want to splurge on. I hope that this may give you a new lease on your dreams..." It did, They got the jewelry out and sold some of it and sent the $10,000 back to Mrs Valentine.
The lady from Salt LakeCity did not burden the Healeys with her own hard luck. Her daugter Judith, 19, and her son Richard 14, were in a car on an icy road. It skidded and tumbled150 feet down an embankment. The car stopped upside down, wheels spinning.
I return for Florence's miracle of goodness, a miracle of goodness happened. Judith crawled out of the car with bruises. Richard had a cut finger. You give a lot; you get a lot.