How free children should be to roam, and how cautious parents should be about young children’s activities, is a debate that still rages today. The girls, Dorothea and Marjorie, wanted to pick wildflowers.* * * n Sunday, May 8, 1938, the West family – father Shirley; mother Cecilia; and children Dorothea, 11, Allan, 7, and Marjorie – attended church in Bradford, a small city 90 minutes south of Buffalo, New York, and 90 minutes east of Titusville, Pennsylvania, the site of the country’s first oil boom in 1859. Shirley warned them to watch for rattlesnakes behind the boulder nearby. Dorothea headed to the car to deliver them to their mother. The family drove to the nearest phone seven miles away to contact police in the town of Kane.On Wednesday afternoon, Bradford’s mayor Hugh Ryan issued his plea for 1,000 volunteers for the next day’s search. The search was praised for its organization, thanks in part to the men who, like Shirley, had served in the Great War.At a.m., surveyors mapped out the land, and by eight a.m.
More recently, the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things,” about a fictional 12-year-old named Will Byers who’s snatched into another dimension, prompted renewed discussion about the idyllic times when children roamed free and parents rarely worried.
They killed rattlesnakes and were careful not to drop a foot down into one of the hundreds of oil wells dug during the area’s petroleum boom in the 1870s.
But by nightfall, the “haggard, sleep-robbed faces of scores of men,” as the Eighty years ago today, Marjorie vanished while at a Mother’s Day picnic in the forest with her family.
To this day she is the subject of one of the oldest unsolved cases recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Her search was one of the largest for a child since the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping six years earlier.