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Six Million Dollar Dan
By Margie Bailey Rose
When #3 was eight, my sister and I took our children to the Seattle Center to enjoy the Christmas songs and lights. The seven kids stuck together (as they were trained to do) for most of the evening, but when it was time to go home my #3 son didnŐt want to leave and lagged behind. As I nagged him to catch up he darted behind trees and jumped on planters along the walkway.
Arriving at the car, my sister and I stuffed children in all doors of her big station wagon (that was before seat belts were required) and off we went singing carols at the top of our lungs. As the light turned green at the third cross street, I heard a bang on my window and turned to look. I saw nothing unusual, but the kids were yelling that it was #3. What? I switched on the overhead light and counted noses. Number three was missing. Cars were honking, and there was no place to park, so I told my sister to turn the corner and drive to the next light. I threw the baby to my niece in the center seat and jumped out of the car.
Number three ran diagonally across the intersection, around a building and was half way up the block and running like his life depended on it. I couldn't catch him, and I was fresh! When I got to the light I was ready to collapse and he was already sitting in the car. I climbed in as the light changed, and we turned onto the freeway entrance.
The only sound in the car, as we sped along, was my son's heart beating like a drum and me gasping for breath. No more Christmas songs. When I could talk I lit into him as frightened mothers always do. My sister and the other kids tried to distract me by bombarding #3 with questions. He said he thought we would be worried and come looking for him but to his horror we drove off. His mind had gone blank and (even though it was drilled into him) he couldn't remember his phone number or address. He feared he would never see his family or home again if the car got out of his sight.
We were all amazed he was able to run like that, because he was born with bent legs and wore braces when he was little. (He could barely walk in a straight line, much less run.)
For years afterward we called him the Six Million Dollar Dan, because he caught the car and kept himself out of an orphanage.