In 1917, sixteen-year-old Calla LaRocca is bound and determined to go to a new secretarial college for women. Her immigrant father is appalled at her interest in pursuing a career, but Calla is eager to learn what she needs to fill a position vacated by a man doing his duty to fight in the war.
While visiting her grandmother in Tennessee, Calla is emotionally blindsided by David Sloan, a man whose ethnic background is unacceptable to her family. David surreptitiously teaches Calla many things, including how to maneuver a 1914 Mogul tractor. He goes off to serve in the war and is wounded in battle. When correspondence with her secret love comes to an abrupt end, Calla realizes she must start her life anew.
When David is discharged from the United States Navy, he returns stateside and learns that Calla has disappeared. Her family and friends have no idea where she is. He searches feverishly for her in her hometown and where she went to college. David returns to Tennessee, where his wise old grandfather helps shine a light on the young man's future.
Calla becomes the career girl she studied so hard to be, but memories of David cling to her.