This Wisch List column originally appeared in the The Daily Times (Ottawa, Ill.) in 2003, and is included in my published book, “Northern IlliNOISE: Tales of a Territory.”
Ottawa’s long-lost son searches for his past
The WISCH LIST
Jan. 14, 2003
Almost seven decades ago, deep in the heart of the Great Depression, a healthy eight-pound baby boy was brought into this world at a household somewhere in Ottawa.
Today, thoughts of this long-lost son have returned home, laden with a lifelong mystery and searching for answers.
“I was born in Ottawa on Jan. 26, 1933, and given up for adoption immediately,” said Don Smith of Madison, Wis., who knows little, but wonders much, about his family background in The River City.
“I would like to know my family name, really,” Smith explained. “Nothing else.”
In a dozen days, Don Smith will turn 70 years old. But, with your help, today could be a real birthday.
“(My background) is something that’s been bugging me for the past several years, ever since my adoptive parents died about 20 years ago,” said Smith, who is hoping that his story might ring a bell with one of Ottawa’s older residents. “I don’t want to intrude on the lives of people who have spent years not knowing about me …
“Heck, one of my siblings might have ended up as a bank robber or something, and be someone I wouldn’t want to know.”
And with that laugh, his story begins.