He was nicknamed the “Booth Baby” and “Little Boy Blue-Eyes”. The two-month-old baby was found abandoned in a phone booth in Lancaster, Ohio, on a cold January morning in 1954. He’d been lying there, in a box, for several hours, before he was discovered by chance. A bottle of milk had been left next to him.
It’s taken until this year to find out who abandoned him there, and why.
The baby was front-page news in The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in 1954. The two bread delivery men who found him, Robert Wilson Sr and Robert Wilson Jr, had been making an early-morning delivery to a nearby restaurant when Wilson Jr noticed something moving in the phone box.
“He opened the booth’s door and found the baby cooing while wrapped in some blankets and parked in a cardboard box,” The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette reported.
Before long, authorities were flooded with offers from people wanting to adopt the baby.
“Little Boy Blue-Eyes, as he is called, is enjoying a wave of unprecedented popularity,” the newspaper commented a week later.
The baby was being kept in a private room at the Lancaster-Fairfield Hospital, and was reported to be in “excellent shape”. It seems the abandoned boy was charming everyone who saw him.
“Many of the nurses and administrative personnel of the hospital have said they’d like to take the baby home,” the newspaper went on.
In the end, the baby boy, given the name Steve, was adopted by Stanley and Vivian Dennis. The family moved to Arizona. Dennis’s parents told him from the age of three that he was adopted. But it wasn’t until he was 15 or 16 that he heard the story that he had been abandoned.
A couple of years later, he decided he had to see the phone booth for himself.
“When I was 18 or 19 I went to Lancaster to kind of get a look at it,” he told the Eagle-Gazette.
For years, Dennis didn’t concern himself too much about who his birth parents might be. He joined the Peace Corps, became a chiropractor, got married and had two kids.
It was his kids, when they reached their teens, who pushed him to find out more.
“They’re always really curious about, ‘Dad, you know, where are you from? You know, like, what is your heritage?’” he said in an a video interview with the Arizona Republic.