Sitting on a bench on the Boston Common that afternoon was a sixteen year-old from East Boston named Charles Spataro. He was watching the celebration, waiting to begin his shift selling newspapers at the nearby Park Street subway kiosk.
That's when a woman - a stranger to him - walked up and asked him to watch her baby while she performed an errand. She pressed two dollars into his hand and she promised to return shortly.
Tremont Street around the time of our story. The Boston Common is to the left.
The kiosks to the Park Street subway station (where the newsboy worked) are in
the center of the photo, across from the side of the Park Street Church.
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, one of them flagged down a police car. All five of them (Charles, the baby, and the three Dot girls) were then driven to the old Joy Street station for questioning. Charles described the woman as being in her mid-twenties and dressed in a grey suit with grey shoes. He was later photographed with the two dollars she had given him.
One of many August 1945 articles on the abandoned baby
Meanwhile, the black-haired, brown-eyed, eleven-pound boy was 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.
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 war-weary Americans, and several papers took to calling the boy “Little Mr. Victory” a nickname which endeared him to the hearts of Bostonians. Over the next two weeks, local papers would provide their readers with frequent updates on his health. They also reported on a number of couples who said they wanted to adopt him.
Meanwhile the police searched for the mother. Meanwhile the state - for the first time - would use the baby's footprints in their efforts to identify him. Rumors and leads flew. Like the report that a woman fitting Charles Spataro's description was seen boarding a train in Portland, Maine early on the 15th. A detective was dispatched to investigate the lead, which turned out to be a dead end.
On August 27th a police spokesman claimed they were “convinced they know the name of the mother.” A woman who had recently given birth at Boston City Hospital had come forward, saying she recognized the baby from his photograph and the missing mother from her description in the paper. She also recalled the woman had said her husband was a G.I. who had been killed in Europe. Boston was abuzz with hope as police reported a pregnant Long Island woman had recently been reported missing. A picture from the missing woman's father was due to arrive any day.
Another lead... another disappointment
He never sent it. This lead, like so many others, evaporated. Then, on August 29th, a full two weeks since “Little Mr. Victory” had been abandoned, desperate police threw an investigative "Hail Mary." They released a number of previously unreported details about the baby to the newspapers, such as the white shirt he was wearing which was embroidered with the initials T.M.K. An article was published and the police, reporters, and the people of Boston waited.
Nothing happened. The mother never came forward and the police never received any credible leads from this effort. With nothing to report, the newspapers moved on to other stories, and the August 29th "hail Mary" was the last appearance of “Little Mister Victory” in any Boston paper.
That is, until the 60th anniversary of VJ Day - and the beginning of the mystery of Little Mister Victory's abandonment - when David's article on the story appeared in the Boston Globe. At the conclusion of the article, he 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?
Now... the rest of the story
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."
Within days, Tina and David had a very emotional phone call. Tina had known of her father's start in life but David's article provided heretofore unknown details. David was ecstatic to hear Tina talk about her dad and his 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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