Little Blonde Joan Lost in the Woods

Joan Joyce (Schiavon) Huesca
1928 – 1987
 

In her own words  (Part Four)

 

My mother at about a year old, Chicago, Illinois
On June 24, 1987, a couple of months before she died of cancer, my mother, Joan Joyce (Schiavon) Huesca began writing the story of her life, Joan Joyce Schiavon Huesca:  an Autobiography.  Here, she tells about getting lost in the  woods surrounding Big Blue Lake, Michigan, while her mother was out antique hunting.   
 
 
My Mother was blessed with a ‘happy-go-lucky’ character, with a witty sense of humor shining through.  As the Irish would say, she was born with a ‘gift of the gab!’  She loved antiques and beautiful things.  Of course in those days, since the Depression was in full swing, money was scarce and she would travel the farm roads, looking for bargains.  We had a maid who stayed in the cottage with us, and when I was about three years old, my Mother went off and left me with the maid.  When she returned, I wasn’t in view, but she thought I was playing a hide-and-seek game with her as I often had done, finally, when the maid burst into tears and my Mother realized that I was gone…her baby was LOST!
 
“Faintly, I can remember, I had heard about fairies, and I recall going into the woods to find some.  I am told that I was clothed only in a bathing suit, and small rubber bathing shoes.  I don’t remember anything about walking through the woods, but I do remember sitting down on a step, and I must have fallen asleep.
 
“I was awakened by a lady and a little boy.  I was in their house, and I remember sitting down and eating with them.  The  next thing that I remember is that I had an exciting motorboat ride across the lake to our beach where I could see my Mother and a large group of people waiting for me.  What I was unaware of at that time, was that I had been gone for more than eighteen hours!  In the meantime, the newspapers carried the headlines, ‘LITTLE BLONDE JOAN LOST IN WOODS!’  The Forest Rangers had a plane out looking for me, over 1,500 Boy Scouts were searching through the woods, and my Mother was in a state of hysteria.  
 
My grandmother, Alice McGinnis Schiavon,
about 1935, Chicago, Illinois
“I was fine, except that my feet had worn through my light footwear and were badly blistered and cut.  The family who had found me had to calm their little boy, who had been praying for a baby sister and thought God has answered his prayers when I appeared on their doorstep.  God indeed, must have been watching over me, as the forest was inhabited by many potentially harmful animals, snakes, bears, etc.  There were also patches of quicksand in other areas not distant from the cottage, and had I wandered in another direction, I might have perished in the quicksand.  
 
“There is, many times in life, a humorous side to things, and one of those funny moments happened just the next day. Mother, the gung-ho antique hunter, was off down the roads for a new ‘find’ early the next morning! When she stopped to fill up the gas tank, she overheard two men discussing the big news of the day…ME!  One of the men was going on about ‘how women these days were neglectful of their Motherly duties.  Just imagine how a mother could leave her child with a maid, and go out looking for antiques!’  Then he turned to my Mother and asked, ‘What do you think, Madam, would be a fitting punishment for a careless mother like that?’
 
“Trying to control herself from laughing, my Mother replied, ‘A woman like that should be tarred and feathered!’ and off she went, blissfully searching for more antiques…”
 
                                                                                – Joan Huesca

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