Little Girl Lost
This tidbit is for Sian’s Storytelling Sunday. Go here to find lots of interesting stories. Happy reading!
In our small North Dakota town in the early 1960s, the main street stores were closed by 6 every night except Friday when they stayed open until 9 p.m., and of course none of them were open on Sunday. Dad worked 40+ hours a week and Mom didn’t drive, so our parents did the family shopping on Saturday afternoons.
Once my older brother and I were considered responsible enough to be in charge of our younger siblings for a couple of hours, Mom and Dad started dropping the six of us off at the local movie theatre for whatever the matinee of the week was. Tickets were 25¢ each, a bargain by today’s standards but actually quite extravagant at that time (by comparison, gas was 33¢ a gallon and was often accompanied by green stamps or a token giveaway of some kind). Despite the cost, I’m sure Mom and Dad were thrilled to have some time to themselves so they could do their shopping without having to keep track of all of us run-around kids or deflect the inevitable requests for candy, “pop,” or preferred cereals.
On this particular late December day, it was already dark by time the movie was over, and the sidewalk in front of the theatre was a mob scene of kids, parents, and cars. No one lingered for long because of the close-to-zero cold, and we were soon in the car headed for home. At some point, shortly after Dad pulled away from the theatre, we realized that our youngest sister wasn’t in the car with the rest of us! Dad immediately turned around to go back to the theatre, but it was already closed and there was no sign of two-year-old Sandy. Terrified and teary-eyed, we went home so Dad could call the police.
Fortunately our panic was short-lived. At the same time Dad was reporting that Sandy was lost, another family was calling to report a found child, a little girl who had gotten into their car along with their own children. They said she was scared and crying but they thought she said her name was Sandy. From there it was just a short time before Dad brought Sandy home from the police station. I don’t remember the immediate aftermath of that event, though I imagine my brother and I were thoroughly scolded for not being more careful and, not surprisingly, our Saturday afternoon movies were a thing of the past.
P.S. It didn’t occur to my 11-year-old self that Sandy might have been taken or the very real danger she was in if she was by herself out in the extreme North Dakota cold. I can only imagine how frightened my parents were as they considered the possibilities in the hour or so between when we first realized Sandy was missing and when they learned she had been found.