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Aug. 30, 1909: Who are you, sweetheart?

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • July 3, 2013 - 7:01 PM
 
Part 2: Three days into what would become a months-long saga, Tribune readers learned more about the foundling and her foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Sanford of Minneapolis. A "Tribune representative" -- the reporter, most likely -- suggested the baby be named Tribuna, in recognition of the paper's role in spreading the good news. Mrs. Sanford and her neighbors were completely smitten by the little one. Mr. Sanford, a "real estate man," needed a little persuading. [Read Part 1]

 

Minneapolis 

Baby Named “Tribuna”
By Newly Found Mother

 
The Tribune is Honored by the Choice and Will “Buy” for Infant.
 
Identity of Real Parents Is as Much of a Mystery as Ever.
 
“Who are you, sweetheart?”
 
A woman cooed to the little 18-day-old baby girl mysteriously left at the Sanford home, 3401 Lyndale avenue south, last Friday.
 
She lay cuddled in her soft pink blanket, blinking her blue eyes, brandishing two tiny fists, mere clusters of dimples, just one sweet, empty-minded little wudge of humanity. The brave little fists tried to find the puckered little mouth, but rudely encountered the pert speck of a nose instead.
 
“Who are you, sweetheart?” the “mother” repeated, as she tripped back from her duties in the little store, into the room where the baby was nestled, and for the thousandth time drew back the coverlet and peeked adoringly at her new charge.
 
All Minneapolis has read the strange story of the baby's heartless desertion, and her happiness is a matter of concern not only to the Sanford neighborhood, but also to every member of The Tribune's world of readers.
 
“What will you name it, Mrs. Sanford?” the happy little mother was asked by a Tribune representative.
 
“It is too bad she can't be named after The Tribune since you, too, seem to have adopted her,” she replied, her eyes on the little bundle on the couch.
 
Baby Will Be Called “Tribuna.”
 
A feminization of the Tribune, Tribuna, was suggested, and after due consideration, was finally decided upon as the name the little one was to bear. Thus The Tribune voluntarily finds itself liable for the cost of the baby's first little white dress.
 
 
  Mary Sanford and camera-shy Tribuna in a photo taken from Tribune microfilm.
Yesterday the little lady, though still too tender to stand the strong light of day, yet made her debut into society. She held a regular “at home” to crowds of friends, young and old, and even sat for her picture half a dozen times.
 
For two days talk has raged concerning the baby's mysterious adventure. As yet no clue concerning the tall woman who left the bundle on the counter of the little confectionery store has been found. Mrs. Sanford says that, though she had often read of babies being left by people, and other people finding and keeping them, she never dreamed of such a thing happening to her, especially in the broad light of day and in such a deliberate manner.
 
She says she will never forget her feeling when she returned to the front of the store with the drink the woman had ordered, to find the woman gone, and the bundle she carried left on the counter. At first she thought it was a bundle of old clothes, but upon touching it to put it away, she heard a little grunt. That little human cry made her heart stand still for a moment, and she was almost frightened.
 
Hardly knowing just what to expect or even guessing that a human being was living and breathing in that tight hot bundle, she slowly unrolled it, and disclosed the pink flower face of the infant.
 
The baby never uttered a whimper, but just blinked in the light and energetically chewed a black object that would be wholly unsatisfactory as an article of food to anyone but a youngster three weeks old.
 
Bundle Contained Little Else.
 
The only other objects in the bundle besides the baby were the simple little gown it wore and the scrap of paper bearing the date, Aug. 9, 1909, which has been finally accepted as the date of the birth of the child. It is the only information the real parent vouchsafed to those into whose care she placed the raising of her daughter.
 
Providence or clever forethought on the part of the real mother are involved in the abandonment of the baby, for, strangely enough, the baby comes into the arms of a woman who, having no children of her own, cherishes her so tenderly that those who see it are speechless at the beauty and appropriateness.
 
Mrs. Sanford wanted and claimed the child from the first moment she saw it; but until yesterday it did not seem possible that she could keep it. The little store took most of her time and thought, and her husband, who is a real estate man in the Metropolitan Life building, was not willing to see an additional burden given to his wife so unexpectedly.
 
“But,” says the “father,” who has now succumbed to the pleading of his wife and all her neighbor friends, “I see that it would be impossible to take it away from her now. It would break her heart. Perhaps the little girl is a God-send to our little family. And the neighbors have all offered to help us by sewing and attending to the little girl whenever they are needed. So I guess she is ours to keep. I know she will make our home happier, and she seems to be a sound, healthy baby, and we do not expect to have much trouble in raising her to be what we would have our own daughter be.”
 
And thus begins the first page in the life of Tribuna Sanford.
 
Real Mother's Identity Concealed.
 
Mixed with curiosity at the state of mind in which a woman would have to be to abandon a baby in the circumstances in which Tribuna was left to shift as best she could, is admiration for the skillfulness with which the identity of the mother was concealed.
 
It is now supposed that she came in an automobile which was seen about the store the same time the baby was left, and was whisked away in it before there could be any effective pursuit. This fact of the automobile and also that the woman was herself tidily dressed indicates she was a woman of some culture and refinement.
 
Her consideration in choosing such a favorable home for her baby would seem proof that some day the mother will be heard from, either in person, or perhaps in the way of a reward for what the foster parents have done for her.
 
That the “title” to the child may be perfected, however, so that she cannot be subsequently claimed by any real parent and the child learn of the foster character of its parents, which fact will be kept from her if possible, the new parents will do their utmost to adopt the child legally, as without adoption papers the child will not be completely theirs.
 
No One to Give Child Away.
 
Inasmuch as there is no one to give the child away or to sign the papers that complete a contract, Mr. and Mrs. Sanford may have some difficulty in forming a title to it that will put them at rest about being some day separated from their foundling treasure.
 
The parents of little Tribuna take the attitude that it is the environment and training of the child in the home that makes it belong to its father and mother more than the circumstances of its birth.
 
The fact that the mother heart can be so marvelously warmed and aroused merely at thought, however sudden, of the possession of a little namesake, makes it likely that little Tribuna will some day, if not now, be just as precious to those who have rescued her as if she were theirs by ties of blood.
 
Grandma McMillan, who is just about as fond of the newcomer as Mrs. Sanford herself, has summed the situation up about as tersely as it can be put: “Children sometimes go wrong in families of every sort, and apparently in homes of high station more than in the humbler ones; and I would just as soon take a chance on this one being sound and full of promise as any youngster in the land.”
 
 
Read Part 3: A new wardrobe and a baby carriage
 

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