Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 25, 1979, When Etan Patz Went Missing...

New York kids and parents will always
remember this beautiful face.

During the week of May 25th, 1979, New York area moms held their children closer. I was only 6, but I clearly remember the day Etan Patz vanished without a trace. My own mother, a NYC school teacher at that time, was very taken by the missing little boy. It affected her. She knew children who walked to the bus stop or walked to and from her school. 

In 1979, Etan and I were the same age. He was born a mere month before me. I will never forget the haunting image of this beautiful child with adorable silky hair styled in a typical '70s "bowl cut." I wondered where he could have gone. I wondered why he didn't run. I wondered who could have taken him. I thought about Etan often. 

We all felt for the Patz family. It could have been any of us. As a kid, growing up in the late '70s and early '80s, it seemed like an innocent time. We would bike to the corner candy stores. We played in our local school yards. We were safe. Etan wasn't. 

Every morning, my little brother and I would begin our day with a bowl of cereal. We were safe in our PJs. Safe in our home. Safe with our parents just a few feet away. Sprinkling sugar over our Rice Krispies, we would stare at images of missing kids our ages. Their faces on milk cartons. Thoughts of where they might be raced through my innocent, young mind. 

According to news stories all over the US, New York City's finest have cracked the case this week. A man has confessed. It doesn't even matter what his name is or where he's from. The point is, someone has finally come forward. I read that the Patz family never moved or changed their phone number in hopes that their son, Etan would try to locate them. 

My heart aches for Etan's parents. 

Are you old enough to remember this heart-wrenching case?


Sabrina Steyling said...

Etan went missing only a few months after I was born, so I obviously don't remember when this happened, but I can't imagine what it has been like for Etan's family - or for any family whose child has gone missing only to never return. Like you said, I don't care who did it, what the person's name is or anything; the point is that someone finally came forward. Of course, I do hope that justice is served... said...

This is such a somber, well written piece, Ally. I am old enough to remember. Am I wrong or was Etan's tragic story the main impetus behind a surge of postings of missing kids on milk cartons (though that likely started much earlier)? Anyway, thanks for this bringing back Etan's beautiful, innocent face.

Be well.

TILTE said...

I'm not old enough to remember this, but it makes me feel sick just reading about it. :(

The Deranged Housewife said...

I don't remember Etan Patz, but I do remember Adam Walsh, which happened about a year later. That still sticks with me to this day as I teach my own kids about stranger awareness.

Riot Kitty said...

I remember discussing that in journalism classes in NYC 15 years ago. I was absolutely glued to this story before I went into the hospital. Just wow. That poor family. Hopefully now they can at least have some closure.


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