San Bernardino County Sun May 6, 1945

San Bernardino County Sun May 6, 1945

Seven-year-old gone 36 hours

Seven-year-old gone
36 hours








Yesterday I wrote a blog post about my Aunt Patty, but I didn’t feel right when clicking the button and sending it out.  It’s that little Pinocchio-voice inside that lets me know when I am not being honest with myself.  Something was wrong with the post.  I was still in a dark place.

A couple days ago, I received an e-mail with several newspaper articles from 1945 with a photo of my Aunt Patty, who disappeared when she was seven-years-old.  Seeing Patty’s photo for the first time with my grandmother, and then a photo of my mourning grandparents was extremely painful. I understood, in a more profound way, why my family never discussed Patty.

My father was born during the Great Depression, and when he was eleven his parents left Eugene, Oregon to work at the Air Force base in the defense plants in San Bernardino, California.  Patty was four years younger than my father, and he often took care of her while his parents worked.  During the time of Patty’s disappearance they lived in what he described as the “projects” where other families lived, and while the adults were working the children often played outside.

My Dad wrote, “There were lots of kids there and we had come from all over the country so everyone was friendly.” On the day that Patty disappeared she was at a friend’s house, and never made it home.  (There was another news article about a six-year-old girl who was kidnapped three years earlier in the same location and found in a river bed strangled by her own jump rope.  The kidnapper, who looked to be in his thirties, was seen taking the little girl on a bike, but never captured).

My family always hoped that Patty was stolen by a desperate family who could never have children of their own. My father wrote: “This was a very sad time, and I don’t think my parents totally recovered from it.”

After reading about Patty, I felt terrible sadness thinking about what she went through, and my family’s loss, and their lack of closure.  I can’t even imagine anything more horrific than the loss of a child.  It was too painful thinking about something so sad; something that I couldn’t control. I realized the best thing was to get off my computer and live life!

This is how I want to pay tribute to my Aunt.

I got on my scooter (my Dad rode a motorcycle), and then I went to a coffeehouse where I listened to some music (my grandmother and grandfather played guitars, ukuleles, and mandolins) and all of a sudden, I felt connected to Patty and my family in a positive way.

I believe Patty, my grandparents, and my father, who have all passed on, would have encouraged me to let go of what I can’t change, and have the courage and strength to change the things I can. Knowing the difference between the two seems to be a gift.

Isn’t this what we hope for all our children?

Serenity Prayer