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Little Girl Lost


I wouldn't call this a memory. I simply heard the story recounted so often that it feels like one. However, it is something that left my family stumped for a logical explanation...

It began when I was all of two, and my family had moved from the projects of Chicago to a small town. Back then, the new area was still under construction, and we were the seventh family to move in. Today the place is a bustling suburb, but back then it was still mostly fields, newly laid sod, and houses in various stages.

Those of you who have experienced moving day, with small children (the boys were 12, 7, and 6 and my sister was merely months old) know what a trial it can be. Add to this, we were not just 'city' kids, but innercity kids who were experiencing for the first time being able to leave the confines of the indoors without an adult in tow. We ran in and out so much, that my mother feared we'd wear the door clean off its hinges.

Naturally, my mother occupied with unpacking and caring for my sister, gave watch of me to my oldest brother, who passed the buck to the next oldest, who put the next one in charge of me. Of course, at 6, the care of a 2 year old fades rapidly in comparison of having an entire backyard to explore. My parents had sternly pointed out the boundaries of the yard, and the boys knew better than to stray. At two, I knew nothing, and so it was when my mother called us for lunch, I was not with my brothers.

They looked upstairs, and down. In packing crates, and under cabinets. The open field next to our house was quickly searched. But nowhere was a little girl to be found.

Doors were knocked on, my parents hoping I had made friends with someone's child and was there. But, no. No one had seen me. Older kids joined the search, and the police were summoned. Fathers returning from work quickly joined in, scouring the nearby construction sites. It was growing dark now, and my mother cried, fearing for me.

Suddenly, there was a sharp rap at the backdoor. Not the kind of rap made with a hand, but that of wood on wood. My mother flung open the door, praying, and there I was. "Look, Mommy! Santa!" I said, gesturing towards an old bearded gentleman, who stood a few feet back. My mother's breath caught - the slouched hat, the worn buck coat he wore, the heavy walking stick he held. Earmarks of Joe Courtney, the mountain man, who sometimes came into town when she was a child, back in Kentucky. He'd had a soft spot for kids, and if one was in trouble, you could count on Joe to use his tracking abilities to help find them. She called out to him to come in, she wanted to thank him, offer dinner, but he simply nodded in her direction and vanished! She swore that was the only way to put it. Just there one moment, gone the next.

His description didn't elicit any information from the neighbors, nor had anyone seen him before. The mystery only deepened that he knew exactly where I lived. The only thing I could tell my parents is I had seen a bunny and followed him. I had gotten lost and 'Santa' had found me. My mother often wondered aloud if maybe Old Joe had heard her and tracked her baby down.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, valkricry, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

MysticFrance (5 stories) (94 posts)
3 years ago (2018-12-04)
Great story, Val! As always! I believe children do have guardian angels. Not exactly the angels of God we read from the Bible. Sometimes, it's hard to explain that children seemed to have been saved from danger.:)

valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
6 years ago (2015-07-16)
Thank you for reading and commenting on my stories!
LemonDrop_Pop (guest)
6 years ago (2015-07-10)
Valkricry,This was an awesome story. Very sweet.It's good to know there is someone out there watching over us.
valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
7 years ago (2014-09-26)
Dear all of you, thanks for reading and commenting.
Fergie,I often wonder about Old Joe, myself. Most of my mother's people are long gone. But, when they were still around, now and then one of them would pass along a bit of news that they felt connected to him. One bit, I recall was a story of a young boy who had fallen through the ice, while walking home with his brother. His brother went for help, but when they returned they found him, sopping wet, sitting next to a small fire. When asked, he maintained that 'Santa' had pulled him out, made the fire, and told him help was on the way!
Was it Old Joe? Or just a good Samaritan? We'll never know.
Fergie (40 stories) (1159 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-25)
Hi Val, I know I am a bit late for the party, but you know the circumstances.

What a heartwarming narrative. I bet your mother was over the moon when that kindly gentleman brought you home. Supernatural or not, that was a lovely tale with a happy ending - gives me such a delicious, warm feeling inside.

I hope "Old Joe" is still around to give much needed help to those in distress. ❤
sarahlove143 (2 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-23)
Awwwwwwwww such a sweet heart warming story yet spooky as well ^_^
FirehouseDracula (1 stories) (7 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-22)
A guardian angel in the shape of a person your mama knew as a younger person back home. Maybe this Joe is still looking out for those children who stray from home, even for a short time. I think you are very lucky that he was there to help you get home safe. A caring man even in the afterlife, and at two, you had a special angel. FIREHOUSEDRACULA.
valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
7 years ago (2014-09-21)
Swims, I do know my mother always maintained that Kentucky was 'home'. She really did not like Illinois very much. She longed so to go back, that she made us promise to be buried there, even if it meant visitation to her grave would be very limited. And even if we were 'city born' she tried her best to teach us country ways. She always told me that mountain folk (at least those she knew) were ferociously protective of kith and kin. There are a great many stories of loved ones reaching out from beyond to give comfort or protection, given that, I'd think it possible that Old Joe came to my mother's aid. With the passel of kids she had, and his fondness of them, maybe he was always lurking. I'd kindof like to think that.
Swimsinfire (11 stories) (556 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-20)
That is such an amazing story. Do you suppose he'd been following your mother around all the time, like we've read in other stories? Man that gives you a warm feeling.
spiritwaiting (42 stories) (843 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-19)
Valkricry,All I can say is wow! This was an amazing story of a kindly old spirit helping out and to me sounds like he was sort of welcoming your family to town. I truly enjoyed this mystery.
Khili180 (3 stories) (78 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-19)
Hehehe! Typical moms! Always so "politically correct" huh! I liked her reply though!
Woah so you HAVE had scary experiences as well! From your accounts and whatever I've understood so far, it always looked like you've had only pleasant ones! Hehe would love to hear about them too someday! Take care:)
valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
7 years ago (2014-09-18)
Quote of my mother, when I was old enough to ask her if SHE believed in ghosts: "I won't say they exist, but I won't say they don't - in case one is listening and decides to prove they do." When ever a door would mysteriously open, she'd say, "Kind spirits, welcome - the rest of you STAY OUT!"
To be honest, I do not remember a time when I was not aware of spirits, but prior to Jamie, making himself known to me, they are dim wisps of memory (maybe even childhood fantasy?) I prefer talking about the nice ones (and they DO outnumber the not so nice) but one day, maybe, I'll tell about the ones that scared me. Maybe.
valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
7 years ago (2014-09-18)
Arwen, Thank you for reading and commenting.

Elnora, I know, I have to laugh to. It's very odd to question yourself about a 'memory' you have. (That's probably as clear as mud.) Like I said, I doubt I actually 'remember' any of it, except for having heard the tale so often down through the years. Do I really remember following that bunny, or did my mind fill it in, because that's what I had told my mom? I honestly don't know, and I'd rather say so than risk a lie.;)
Arwen1957 (7 stories) (46 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-18)
Such a touching story it gave me chills. Another guardian in the right place at the right time
elnoraemily (11 stories) (1051 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-17)
I completely understand that 😜

It could be a memory you tossed in there to fill the gaps, but knowing kids, following a bunny seems to be a reasonable memory.

I got lost following a puppy once. My story is not nearly as interesting though.

Either way, that is quite the experience, at least for your mother!
Khili180 (3 stories) (78 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-17)
Hehehe! Before I comment on "Santa", I must tell you I smiled so wide at the part where each sibling passed over the responsibility to the younger one! Hehe! That is so typical of siblings isn't it?!
Anyway, I think it's really sweet val! That someone would come up like that to return lost kids!
So looks like you've had a connection with these good spirits since childhood then!:)
I wonder how scary it must have been for your mom though, to see somebody vanish into thin air like that...
To be honest I actually had a doubt about how your mom recognized this person but your comment cleared it up! Fascinating really:)) )
valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
7 years ago (2014-09-17)
Well, elnora, I honestly can't say. It's weird. I know you have an analytical mind, so maybe this will make sense to you. I 'remember' following the bunny, and getting scared, but do I REALLY? Or is it because I have heard the story so often, that I only THINK I remember, and impose those feelings I have seen other two year-olds display?
elnoraemily (11 stories) (1051 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-17)

Do you remember being lost at all?

Very strange.

Congrats, for once I don't have any words.
valkricry (47 stories) (3170 posts) mod
7 years ago (2014-09-17)
Revajane, if you mean did we research into Joe Courtney, all that is to be found there is word of mouth. My mother was a child in the early 1920's (Born in 1921). She lived in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Back then, locally, folks were divided into three groups; the 'River Rats' (down by the Ohio River), Ridge Runners (Foothill dwellers), and Mountain folk. As a general rule, the three did not associate much. The trip down the mountain was arduous, so it was a rare occasion, when someone did come into town.
Most births were at home, with the aid of a midwife (if lucky) or a neighbor woman. Except for a notation in a family Bible, no record may have been made. My mother told me once that there was only one real doctor within a 50 mile radius of where she lived!
So, everything we knew about Joe, came from family (her parents,sister, and brother) and my mom's memory of him. My Mom left there in 1945, and had been acquainted with him, as far back as she could recall. Apparently, Joe had once had a family, but had lost them.
Revajane (1 stories) (71 posts)
7 years ago (2014-09-17)
Cool story. Have you done any research into the history of this man?

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