As Margaret continues her complaints in the butcher shop, Mr. McGrath tells her and Helen that he never wanted to be a butcher, but when he was fifteen years old his father died and someone had to take over. Now he hopes that he can be like his father. “I hope once in a while God will use me to touch someone the way He used my father.”
Outside the shop, residents of the Lower East Side continue their busy buying and selling on the street.
Twin sisters advertise their pasta with a song.
On the busy street, landlord Mr. Harrison gets a shoe shine.
The movie house worker encourages those who are tired of life to go to the movies!
Young girls discuss the idea.
They sing dreamily of escaping to places very different from the reality they live with every day.
Mr. Harrison stops by the Sloan apartment to remind Muriel that they are two months behind on their rent and that it is due on Christmas Eve. After he leaves, Granny sends Fiona to the pawn shop with the clock passed down to her from her grandmother, the only possession she has left from her childhood in Ireland.
Mrs. O’Fallon comes to gossip, but leaves in a hurry when Dugan comes home.
He stays long enough to miss the clock and fuss at his mother for selling it. When Doreen arrives home from work, she tells her father: “I wish everyone in this family was willing to do what needs to be done.”
On the street Mrs. Sweeney exits her apartment building and is accosted by Mr. Jacobs, who tries to sell her a pot. The two bargain back and forth in an energetic song.
In the butcher shop, Mr. McGrath and Helen encourage Margaret, while she complains of life being like what she sees out her window in the morning–a brick wall! In her solo, she begs:
When I look out toward my future all I see
Is a brick wall going up high in front of me.
Won’t someone take it down? I want to see the sun!
On the street, young girls gather to jump rope and sing the jump rope song, “Teddy Bear.”
Young boys run to the butcher shop because this is Saturday, the day Mr. McGrath hands out free meat! When one boy doesn’t take any meat, Mr. McGrath finds out that he has no one to cook it for him and invites the boy to his house for supper.
When Margaret wonders why Mr. McGrath gives the meat away and how he and Helen can be so cheerful, Helen explains that their happiness comes from a joy that goes way down deep.
When Helen exits, Margaret sings:
So if I look out of my window and I see
A brick wall going up high in front of me,
If I look higher still, perhaps I’ll see the sun.
Back in the shirt factory, Doreen begins singing “Star of the County Down.” All the girls join in.
When Miss Connolly finds them singing, she docks Doreen’s pay again.
When the whistle blows, weary girls leave the factory.
When Doreen returns for her purse which she left behind, she finds Miss Connolly sewing and humming “County Down.” She learns that Miss Connolly stays late every night to fix any mistakes the girls have made. She feels terrible about how she treats the girls, but Mr. Curtis expects it. As the only breadwinner in her family, she feels she must. Her work after hours is an effort to make up for the bad way she treats the girls.
Are there any puzzling Miss Connallys in your life?
Who are you to judge the servant of another?
To his own master he stands or falls;
and he will stand,
for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4, NASB
I look forward to sharing the rest of the story of Fiona’s Gift with you tomorrow.