Hangovers be damned, when they woke up the next day they did it all over again, jamming city streets with joyful abandon. It was sometime in the afternoon a mystery began which has endured for decades. Sitting on a bench on the Boston Common, newsboy Charles Spataro was watching the celebration waiting to start work, when a woman, holding a baby, walked up to him. The sixteen-year old later told police the woman, whom he described as being in her mid-twenties and well-dressed in a grey suit, asked him to watch her baby while she performed an errand. He showed them the two dollars she had pressed into his hand as she promised to return shortly.
She never did.
The sight of a teenage boy holding a baby (who had begun to whimper soon after being placed in Charles' arms) drew the attention of three young women from Dorchester. After hearing Spataro’s story, they suggested he turn the baby over to the police. All five of them (Charles, the baby, and the three Dot girls) were driven to the old Joy Street station for questioning. The black-haired, blue-eyed, eleven-pound boy was then taken to Boston City Hospital, where he was examined and found to be in perfect health. His age was estimated by doctors to be between two and five weeks old.
One of many August 1945 articles on the abandoned baby
During a week in which the most deadly and costly war in American history had finally ended, the story of the abandoned baby made the front page of several Boston papers. “Deserts Baby on Boston Common” blared the August 16th Boston Post, just below its headline about Japan’s surrender. The timing of the baby’s abandonment was not lost on anyone, and several papers took to calling the boy “Little Mr. Victory” or “Baby Victory,” nicknames which seemed to endear him to the hearts of Bostonians. Over the next two weeks, local papers would provide their readers with frequent reports on the search for the child’s mother, even as couples lined up to adopt the baby boy.
On August 16th the Evening American reported how the state would, for the first time, use footprints in its efforts to identify the boy. The next day it was reported a woman fitting the description given by Charles Spataro was seen by a patrolman boarding a train in Portland, Maine early on the 15th. A detective was dispatched to investigate the lead, but it was a dead end. This led a frustrated writer on the Boston American staff to ask, in an open letter to the city, “Mother! Won’t You Give Mr. V a Name?”
Things were looking up again on August 27th when a police spokesman claimed they were “convinced they know the name of the mother.” Their hope was based on information given to them by another woman who had given birth in June at Boston City. She claimed to recognized the baby from his photograph and the missing mother from her description in the paper. Her recollection was the woman had said her husband was a G.I. who had been killed in Europe. That lead led police to Long Island, where a pregnant woman had recently been reported missing. They were expecting a picture to arrive any day, courtesy of the missing woman's father.
Another lead... another disappointment
He never sent it.
Now it was August 29th, a full two weeks since “Little Mr. Victory” had been abandoned. Desperate, the police threw an investigative "Hail Mary," releasing a number of previously unreported details about the baby to the newspapers, such as his white shirt, which was embroidered with the initials T.M.K. The police, reporters, and the people of Boston waited.
And then... nothing happened. The mother never came forward. No one with a credible lead showed up, either. After the August 29th article the story of “Mr. Victory” disappeared from the newspapers.On the 60th anniversary of VJ Day (and of the baby's abandonment) David's article on Little Mister Victory was published by the Boston Globe. At the conclusion of the article, David wrote:
We are left with so many questions. Did the police ever find “Baby Victory’s mother? ...was the baby adopted...? Then there is the most poignant question of all; why, on the day when all around her Boston was celebrating... unmatched joy and unbridled hope for the future, why on this day did the mother chose to change her life and that of her baby forever? ...Little Mr. Victory, if he is still alive, celebrated his 60th birthday this summer. Does he know - or suspect - of how he came to rest, albeit for only an hour, in the arms of a stranger on a wonderful day when Boston held its biggest party ever?
Three years later a woman in Chicago sent David an email. She had found the article, almost by accident, while researching a project for school. "My name is Tina Drzal," she wrote, "and I am Little Baby Victory's daughter."
Holy cow! That day, Tina and David spoke by phone and you can trust us, it was an emotional call for both. They kept in touch, sharing details about her dad and his life's journey, from the Boston Common, through Massachusetts' foster care system, adoption, Vietnam, marriage, and a family. The more they talked, the more they realized this is not just the story of a baby left in the arms of a stranger, but of a country after Depression and war... a country brimming with hope for a better future... a future in which that baby would share. It is also the story of the scientific advances which would lead them to the answer which had eluded Tina and her family for so many years; who was the mystery woman on the Boston Common that day?
His story... our story... is coming.
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