Each child had all their belongings with them, either in an old flour sacks or tied up in an old piece of cloth. The little boys and girls were in tattered and torn clothes. Most of the children were ten years old and older; however, there were a few little girls seven and eight years old.
The youngest and smallest little boy, was standing at the end of the line all alone, with his head down. These Children came from northern cities, and the agencies relocated them to the Appalachian Church of God for adoption by anyone who wanted them, and could care for them.
The northern orphanages were overcrowded, and the administrator of the ones in Maine and New York City wrote to Preacher Daniel of the Church of God; for his help.
Preacher Daniel told his wife he felt compelled to help these children, and he knew the mountain people always had room for one more, so, on this day in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee, he was doing God's work. Jesus said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." Now, he felt he was God's tool, being used as God’s instrument, he would help these little children whose parents died by the Great Influenza, to find caring and loving homes.
The best anyone knew---more people died of influenza during the pandemic. The government estimated around 675,000 deaths occurred--- more than in World War I.
Miss Molly, a young teacher in Davy Gap was here to adopt a child. She had money to afford a child, even though she was single; and Judge Loften of Cricket Landing said it was legal for her to adopt.
So here I sit she thought, feeling nervous waiting for my child. And, praying a child would want her as well.
The little boy on the end kept his head down so no one could see the tears and fear in his eyes. His friend Dan, an older child in the orphanage had befriended him, and kept the older children from teasing or hurting him. But Dan was gone now after his adoption, and Phillip felt totally alone.
Phillip hugged his little bag which held his clothes in it. Clothes that were given to him in the orphanage were all he had in the world. His most precious gift was a tiny Bible he kept hidden that his Papa had given him when he was three. He slept with his little Bible every night, after he said his prayers his parents had taught him.
Molly waited as they lined all fifteen children up side by side and in order by age. Her eyes fell on the little boy at the end, with black hair and emerald eyes, the most beautiful little boy she had ever seen. She immediately approached the preacher and the sheriff who were conducting the adoptions, and told them she wanted to know about the little black-haired boy on the end because she was interested in adopting him.
Preacher Daniel told her, "His name is Phillip Zorbas and we know his parents died from the influenza a year ago, and there were no living relatives. But we know little Phillip is only six years old, and we have his birth certificate to verify the information.
"May I talk to him Preacher Daniel?"
"Yes, please go up there and speak to him, and take his hand if you want to adopt him, Molly. He will be a very lucky little boy if you do." Preacher Daniel said with a bright smile.
Little Phillip's emerald eyes were on Molly as she walked towards him. All he could hear is his little heart beating fast, as his Angel walked toward him. She is so beautiful and clean,--- he thought----as she got nearer he could smell her sweet clean scent, and see the dimples appear in her cheeks, as her blue eyes caressed him. She stopped by his side and took his hand, and led him back to the sheriff and Preacher Daniel, then signed the papers for Little Phillip Zorbas.
They both started out the church door, hand in hand, when the banker of Davy Gap stopped Molly and Phillip. He sighed and looked at them both, his eyes examined Molly and lingered on her blond hair. Then, he cleared his throat and said," Good morning, Molly, who is this handsome young man?"
Molly was trying to rush by Tomas Penna who was the rich banker of the Gap. But Tomas was in love with Molly, who never gave him a second look.
"Good Morning Tomas, this is Phillip Zorbas, whom I have adopted, and if you will excuse us, I want to give him a bath, and put some new clothes and shoes on him." Molly gave Tomas a sweet dimpled smile. She has always thought he was a very handsome man, but beyond that she had never taken the time to think further about him.
Tomas was sure his heart had stopped beating, but said anyway, "Please Molly, let me buy the clothes and shoes and bring them to your house, while you bathe the boy."
Molly could not believe that a banker would do this for her and Phillip, so she smiled and said, "Yes, and thank you very much, but do you know that I live high on the Purple Mountain Ridge?"
"Yes, I know where you live, Molly." He said, as he loved saying her name.
Molly was still thinking about why she was receiving this attention from Tomas. She didn't realize the truth was her involvement in teaching was her only passion, and she didn't give it a thought when men stopped her to talk. She was always in a rush for one reason or another, therefore, she left most of them with their mouths open as she departed quickly.
After giving Phillip a bath, Molly wrapped him in her bathrobe to wait for the clothes and shoes Tomas was bringing him. She gave him milk with a jelly and biscuit sandwich, all the while trying to make conversation, however, he only answered her with Yes, Mam and No Mam. Molly thought she would give him a little more time to settle in before they had a longer talk together, where he would need to answer her in a complete sentence.
A loud knock came, and Molly opened the door to find Tomas and two other men carrying bags and boxes.
Molly could not believe her eyes as she saw at least twenty (20) little boy outfits and a dozen pairs of shoes and boots for Phillips, and toys and books, and flowers for her. She was so surprised she could not speak, but only stand there with a bright dimpled smile on her face. That not only affected Tomas, but the other two men who were with him.
Phillip was the only one who said anything, and it was so precious as he said," Is it Christmastime again?" He smiled brightly and showed everyone that he had dimples as well.
Tears came to everyone eyes then, and unashamed they all brushed them away, as Tomas and Molly ran to Phillip and hugged and kissed him.
Phillip was a happy little boy once more, now that he had a new Mama, and he felt soon he would have a new Papa. But he would never forget his first Mama and Papa who were in Heaven watching over him.
Tomas was holding Molly's hand as she was looking up into in green eyes, and smiling. And, all was well on this Independence Day---July 4th, in Davy Gap, Tennessee in the year 1919.