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When the stockmarket crashes on October 29th, 1929, stockbroker Jim Emerson, broke and caught in an unhappy marriage, is about to shoot himself when he finds a letter on his desk from a woman from his past. In 1917, after carrying a torch for Lieutenant Jim Emerson for two years, nineteen-year-old Mary Lane dances with him at an officers' ball in Virginia and they make love in the moonlight. The following week, Jim goes off to war in France with no word to Mary. Pregnant, Mary goes to New York to stay with her broadminded aunt, Julia Warren, who runs a beauty shop. Julia welcomes Mary with open arms, assuring her that in the modern world, pregnancy is just another biological event. Mary's son Jim, Jr. is born on the day the Armistice is signed and she is eager to be reunited with Jim. Later, when the troops arrive in New York, Mary spots Jim in the ticker tape parade and runs to him, but he does not remember her, and instead embraces his society girlfriend Phyllis. Mary, heartbroken, is obsessed with Jim and watches him from afar. Time passes and Prohibition is set for the following January. On the day Mary decides to tell Jim the truth about their son, his honeymoon trip with Phyllis is announced in the paper. Ten years later, Julia is married to her ardent sweetheart Bob and Mary runs a successful beauty shop of her own. On New Year's Eve, Jim receives his annual secret New Year's message from "one who does not forget." That night, Julia and Bob, and Mary and her suitor, Dave Reynolds, go to a party at the St. Regis club. Mary promises to give Dave an answer to his repeated proposals at midnight, and then call Jimmy at home with the answer. Also at the St. Regis, however, is Jim, without his wife. When he and Mary eye each other across the room, he suggests they leave the party and takes her to his "bachelor" apartment. Jim still does not remember Mary, but she calls him by his name, refusing to divulge her identity. The two make love, and he swears he could never forget a woman like her. Six hours later, Jim asks to see her again, but Mary insists they part forever and leaves without telling him her name. At home, Mary tells Jimmy she is not going to marry Dave. Some years later, Mary, who has developed a chronic heart condition, lies on her deathbed composing the story of her life in a letter to Jim; the date is October 29th. Julia promises to mail the letter after Mary is dead, and Jimmy arrives home from his military academy to say goodbye to his mother. Mary dies, and Jim later reads the letter, which asks him to visit his son. Jim throws his suicide note away and says good-bye to Phyllis, who was going to leave him for another man. When Jim arrives at Mary's apartment, Jimmy tells him his mother is dead. Jim then tells Jimmy that he is his father.