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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little boys lost

Dad took us to Temple Square after supper one night, Christmas shopping.  Three kids, ages eight, six and three.  About three miles from home, Temple Square actually is a triangular section at the intersection of Cuyahoga Falls Avenue and Main Street, housing a flatiron building with no majesty as it is only two or three stories tall.  There must have been quite a few shops in the building; the two I remember are the dime store and the hardware store.

We went to the five and dime first, to buy Mom’s Christmas Present.  Then we would go to the hardware store.  My dad and my brother Walt, even at age six, were no strangers to hardware stores.  The smell of a hardware store made their eyes glassy.  At age three, Mel could see over enough counters and into enough glass cases to be mesmerized himself. 

At the counter, as I paid for the gift, Walt asked if he and Mel could start for the hardware store.  Dad said yes, and they went off, steps ahead of us.  Dad and I left the dime store and went next door to the hardware store.  Dad looked around briefly.  No boys.  He took my hand and we commenced an aisle by aisle search.  No boys.  Back to the dime store.  Ask all the clerks.  Other shoppers alerted. Up and down the sidewalks.   I was hustled into the car and dad went home for help.  Neighbors set out in cars to search.  Neighbors came to stay at the house.

A couple of hours later, two little boys came in the back door.  Very tired and very cold.  Especially the three year old.  As the searching neighbors checked in they were given the good news, and by midnight the cold, dark adventure was over.  To be recalled in later years as the night the boys walked home from Temple Square.

The next summer we spent a weekend in St. Louis.  Dad was at a convention there and mom drove the family down for the weekend and to bring dad home.  We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel.  We went to the St. Louis Zoo.

You know what happened.  We walked for miles and looked at everything.  We were watching a sea lion performance when they went missing.  First parents scan the near horizon.  Then the far horizon.  They snatch the hand of the remaining child and go into full search mode.  Park authorities are notified.  Mothers cannot remember if they put red T shirts or blue ones on children that morning.  And, why has every mother in the park dressed her little boy in a colorful, striped T shirt!  We walked more miles, accompanied by a zoo ranger. 

Suddenly, in the sea of little boys, mom saw them!  Sitting on an amphitheater bench, watching an elephant performance.  They thanked the ranger and hauled me down the aisle.  The boys looked up, then back at the elephants.  We sat down behind them and waited for the show to end.  At least, Mom said, they didn’t walk home.

 1952.  Mom and Dad.  Me.  Walt and Mel, who walked home last Christmas, but not this summer.

16 comments:

  1. That brought back memories of the day we took our 3 kids to The American Adventure Theme Park (now derelict) child no 3 quietly took off in just that way... he was completely unperturbed when we eventually found him... he wasn't lost, he'd just wanted to look at something different.

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  2. Lovely story Joanne. When our daughter was six, we were on holiday in Cornwall and she went missing on the beach. One minute she was there, the next she was gone. We searched for hours and finally found her at the Missing Children's' tent way down the beach. I can imagine the nightmare your parents must have gone through.

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  3. The same evil lurked back then as it does nowadays. It just wasn't spoken of then. There is nothing like the panic you feel when you cannot locate your child!

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  4. It sounds like your mom took those things in stride which is probably a good thing with two such adventurous boys. I think every parent has gone through an episode like that. Happily, it usually turns out OK.

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  5. Lost ours once in the mall and nearly had a heart attack.

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  6. This made me laugh. Well, sort of. I've never lost my daughter anywhere,but just the thought of it makes my stomach clench.

    I grew up in a small town in Iowa. When we went to the city to go Christmas shopping one year, I deliberately got lost and went up to a sales person and asked her to help me find my mother. I had heard that they announced your name over a loudspeaker when that happened and that is exactly what happened. The sales clerk said loud and clear over the loudspeaker: "Will the parent of Maria Lastname please come to the house and garden section to claim their child?"

    My mother was horrified, but I was thrilled. I GOT TO HEAR MY NAME OVER A LOUDSPEAKER!

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  7. My son really needed a leash. I can't tell you how many heart attacks that child gave me running and hiding...giggling. He thought it was funny.

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  8. My brothers not only wandered astray, they headed off in opposite directions. Which must have caused imminent heart failure often.

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  9. I lost my daughter in a theme park, fifteen minutes after arriving and going on only one ride. She was just five. I can still feel the panic in my body while recalling this story. We found her at the lost children's station and immediate left the park. I had paid over $100 dollars for myself and two of my daughters, but I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

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  10. It seems your brothers had a little of the wanderlust in them, wandering off like that. Did they continue to wander off in later years?

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  11. Thanks for visiting. I'm allergic to wasps, too. I could not find your email so here I am.

    Great post by the way.

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  12. Oh, I know that panic to a quiver! There is nothing worse! wonderful story!

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