Tally Ho Baby
When I was a baby, I was found in a cardboard box inside the front door of the Tally Ho Apartment Bldg. in Wheeling, WV. The Medical Examiner determined my age to be a week to 10 days old – making my birthday either Dec 7th, 8th or 9th. They selected the 8th.
The Tally Ho Apartments are a modest 6-flat on the National Road – on a bus line. It then ran 24 hours a day. My mother could have taken the bus around 4am; gotten off the bus with the box in one hand and the baby in the other; walked into the Tally Ho building; said her goodbyes to her baby – put her baby in the box and boarded the next bus home around 5am.
I will never really know – but the one thing I do know for sure is that she loved her baby very much….as is apparent by the fact that she kept me for a week to 10 days before leaving me at the Tally Ho. I assume she was young – most likely in her early teens – and lived at home. She was probably pressured to dispose of her baby – at the risk of being thrown out of the house. It was a disgrace to get pregnant out of wedlock back in the day.
So she put me in a cardboard box and left me someplace she knew I’d be found and, hopefully, taken care of.
I can only imagine the Caretaker’s surprise when he came to work at 6am that morning and stumbled over a baby in a box inside the front door of the Tally Ho. I was wrapped in a warm blanket with pressed, clean clothes and formula.
He took me to the Ohio Valley General Hospital where I became a Ward of the State for 4 weeks. I became a headline story in the Wheeling News Register – they called me “The Tally Ho Baby!”
4 weeks passed.
At a fortuitous dinner party for Judge McKee, Lucretia and respected Wheeling attorney, George Bailey asked the Judge, “What ever happened to the Tally Ho Baby? Did her mother come back to claim her?”
The Judge said, “No George – unfortunately we are transporting the baby this Monday to a state orphanage. Her 4 weeks are up. The State will not support her any longer.” Then a miracle happened! Lucretia and George Bailey looked at the Judge and said, “No you aren’t! We want to adopt her!”
I will never forget how close it came to going the other way. My birth mother could have left me in a dumpster or thrown me into the Ohio River. But she loved her baby and did the only loving thing she could do for her. It must have been a terrible sacrifice. I only hope that she has kept up with me through the years, knowing that I have had a “wonderful life” with George Bailey and Lu – that her sacrifice was not left unrewarded. There will always be a special place in my heart for her.
As for Lucretia and George Bailey – I couldn’t have had more perfect parents! After 2 years of adopting me they adopted a little boy – and then 2 and a half years later, they had a baby boy of their own! They were amazing, storybook parents! They were my angels on earth – and now they’re my angels in heaven. I love them from the bottom of my heart and am eternally grateful and proud to be their daughter.