Kidnapping in the Fifties


“Have you seen her,” asked

a policemen as he gathered
all the children in our neighborhood.
A policeman flashed a colored
picture of a little girl riding her
yellow – three-wheeler – on
Oregon Avenue.
A three-wheeler, it was yellow –
must have been a Polaroid.
No one owned a Polaroid
on Oregon Avenue – and
if they did we never had
our picture taken.
Was it a common thing, to
be taken from your home?
No neighbor kept searching
or talked about it on a street
corner, no one walked around
with posters, or stopped to
place the picture under a
windshield wiper – and not one
news men gathered
in front of this child’s home
telling others to beware,
flashing a Polaroid picture
on a black and white screen.
A time when grown ups
refused to hear – bad things do
happen in their neighborhood,
yet refused to believe, or did they
warn their children of danger
lurking in the streets?  Mother
always told me about the Candy Man.
To a grown up, a missing child
would be found:  At five
o’clock sharp dinner would be
on the table – and no one was
aloud outside when the street
lights were on.
Did they believe danger only
lurked in streets at night?
Most believed stealing
children could not happen on
Oregon Avenue.
Pork chops cooked on a stove
top; a black and white TV
gave limited news – yet still no
one gathered to walk the streets
or pass out pictures, or no one
wanted to believe.
It was as if she never existed.
Now thirty years since she left
her yard  – something known as
DNA may find a criminal
while those wrongly accused
are set free.
Old neighbors’ have moved on –
those older folks were either in
some nursing home or
lost their memory for things
so hard to recall – since it never hurt them –
I still remember the white house,
and the worried look in my parent’s eyes.
Thirty years – those children now
attending PTA meetings, perhaps moved away.
Oregon Avenue wasno longer a place to play.
Cold cases – solved by DNA.
The child on the yellow bike
back in 59’ –  never found –
no DNA can bring her back –
no fancy building in some city –
where people dressed like surgeons –
can tell where she is at.
She will never be a cold case
filed in a drawer, or solved
by some forensic genius beneath
a brightly lit lamp in a crowded
room where men and women
dressed in white, wear gloves,
hold tweezers – stare through
spectacles – you see, that girl –
in the Polaroid, was never found
there is nothing to compare.

  1. Avatar of Andrew J. Sacks
    Andrew J. Sacks says

    Growing up in the 1950s I remember all too many news items about kidnapping and about children falling into wells. Sad and memorable. Stays with one…

  2. Avatar of Nancy Duci Denofio
    Nancy Duci Denofio says

    Yes, Andrew I recall as I mentioned to someone, about the walking from house to house to show the picture, and both parents were with me, I guess they had no choice in their minds but to take me along, witness something that will never leave me, but taught me a lesson when it came to my children and grandchildren. Sincerely, Nancy

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