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Little Tommy Francis Devlin accidentally hits a baseball through the shop window of "Uncle" Joe Carmine, a well-loved shopkeeper in a lower-class New York City neighborhood. When the mother of neighborhood girl Winnie Brady dies, Joe convinces Father Ryan to let him informally adopt her. Joe and Winnie live together with Tommy and his grandmother, Mrs. Devlin, and a dog Winnie names Muriel. Winnie is confined to a wheelchair, so Joe takes her to Dr. Thompson, who says that only Dr. Ferenc Waller, a recent European emigre, can help her. Waller, however, will operate only for a $3,000 fee, so Joe sells his store to make the surgery possible. Dr. Waller only effects a small change in her condition, and Winnie is not able to stand for more than a few moments. Meanwhile, Joe is trying to sell fruit on a street corner, and one night during a storm, he leaves to buy Winnie a birthday cake. During his absence, a community welfare investigator takes Winnie and places her in an orphanage. Joe becomes a popular visitor at the orphanage, but the superintendent tells him it is in Winnie's best interest that he end his visits, so that she can be adopted by another family. Hoping Winnie will be taken in by a family that can afford proper treatment, Joe tells her he has tired of her, but is so haunted by her cries that he collapses in the street. Joe's illness can be overcome only if he regains his will to live, so Father Ryan takes Winnie from the orphanage by force. She is so afraid that Joe might die that she walks across the room to his bedside and sings his favorite song, "Santa Maria." Later, after Winnie has acquired full use of her legs, Joe buys a catering truck and takes the children on a picnic.