Trudy Appleby: Little Girl Gone: 20 years

We are quickly approaching the 20 year anniversary of the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.  Trudy Appleby went missing from her home in Moline, IL on August 21st 1996.  She was last seen that morning leaving her driveway in a grey/silver car.  The driver appeared to be a male, in his 20’s with dark, curly hair and a baseball cap.  This was in the area of 41st St and 21st Ave in Moline, IL.  She has never been seen or heard from since.  Those are the facts in a nutshell.  Now, it’s about to get a bit more personal.

Trudy Appleby is not just a name or a statistic.  Trudy Appleby was a real little girl, who at the time of her disappearance was 11 years old, and just 2 weeks shy of turning 12.

Trudy had a family, and lots of friends.  She was my neighbor, and spent a lot of time at my house.  I first met Trudy sometime after we moved into this neighborhood.  She was outside in my yard one day, and I opened the door and she said “Hi, my name’s Trudy…you got any kids?”.  The rest was history.   She became fast friends with my oldest daughter, and was over to the house quite often.  Trudy was a little spitfire of a girl.  She was outgoing, friendly, loving, and very bright.

I last saw Trudy on August 20th, 1996, when she was over at the house.  It was a usual Trudy visit, complete with rollerblading out front, eating hot dogs, talking about the upcoming school year and vacations.  My daughter walked her home about 8 pm as usual.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that would be the last time we were to see Trudy Appleby.  But, the next morning, everything changed.

I got a call at work, and life as we knew it in this quiet, safe little neighborhood had changed forever.  We had a missing child.  Trudy was gone.  Hours turned into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into decades.  We passed out hundreds and hundreds of flyers, we searched everywhere, kept our eyes and ears open, hoping for any bit of news, or a phone call, or to see her skipping down the road.  We watched our children much more closely, afraid to even let them play out in the yard by themselves.

I have played the evening of August 20th, 1996 in my head over and over during the past 20 years, trying to recall anything out of the ordinary.   For instance, was there a strange vehicle in the neighborhood?  Did Trudy say anything about seeing a stranger?  But, there was nothing out of the ordinary about that evening.

What happened to Trudy?  We do not know.  Her family doesn’t know, her friends don’t know, and this neighborhood does not know.  Someone knows, though.  That someone needs to come forward and make that call.  Make an anonymous call if necessary.  Tell the authorities what happened to Trudy Appleby.  20 years of not knowing is awful.  It’s worse than awful.  It’s time to bring Trudy home, don’t you think?

Don’t think it can’t happen to someone you know.  Don’t think it can’t happen in your neighborhood.  It happened in mine. trudy flyer

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After 19 years, Trudy Appleby is still missing.

Very soon will be the 19 year anniversary of the disappearance of Trudy Appleby. Trudy was my neighbor girl. She disappeared on the morning of August 21st, 1996, last seen in a grey/silver car resembling a Chevy Celebrity. The driver was a young white male in his 20’s with long brown curly hair, wearing a ball cap. The area was near 41st St and 21st Ave Moline, IL. It will be 19 years with no answers, no idea of what happened to her.

We all know little girls just do not disappear “poof” off the face of the earth. She went somewhere with somebody. She was 11 years old at the time of her disappearance, and she would be 30 years old today.

This girl was filled with so much spunk, and so much love for others. The first time I met her, she was outside playing in my yard. She asked me “Do you have any kids?” and the rest is history. She became fast friends with my oldest daughter, my youngest daughter adored her, and she and my son got on like a brother and sister, constantly teasing each other. I don’t remember what day I met her, but I remember what day she disappeared. Every day for years, I have watched down the road hoping to see her walking to my house again. My oldest would go sit by her mailbox waiting to see if she showed up at home. If I saw Trudy today I’d give her a big old hug and not want to let go.

Somewhere out there, somebody knows or remembers exactly what happened to our girl Trudy. I don’t know how that someone sleeps at night, and part of me hopes that someone doesn’t. That someone really should find it in their hearts to come forward. After all, 19 years of not knowing what happened to a loved one is just incomprehensible.

I have written a letter to the editor pretty much each year for 19 years trying to keep her memory fresh in people’s minds. Let’s not make it 20 years. If you know something, please alert the authorities. It’strudy appleby really time to bring our Trudy home

May Day

When I was 6, I started a tradition of leaving a Maybasket every May Day on our neighbor Grace’s front door. When I was away, my mom made sure she got one. When I had kids, I taught them my tradition. Every year, without fail…Grace got a Maybasket, even when she was in the nursing home and couldn’t recognize me. This was my 2nd May Day without Grace…..and I have to say, I am feeling a bit lost.  Happy May Day up in Heaven Grace.

My giant gorilla on the porch dream

There was a giant gorilla (or bear) loose in the neighborhood.  It ended up on the front porch of the house I grew up in and eventually came through the front door.  There were little kids upstairs playing, so to protect them, I took them into the attic.  As I whispered stories to them to keep them entertained, we noticed a man sitting on the roof outside the attic window.  Then, the giant gorilla (or bear) left.

Suddenly I am in a different house listening to Peggy Lee on the stereo.  I went into the bathroom….oh, it had a beautiful blue clawfoot tub set above the floor on a pedestal.  There was a sliding wood door that hooked shut.  Outside the window, there were 2 coyotes trying to kill a pig at the neighbor’s.  Immediately, my brother threw 2 chickens from the refrigerator into the neighbors yard and rescued all the animals.  The coyotes got loose, we put a stray red doberman mix inside the fence and warned all the neighbors about the coyote.  Then, my brother delivered the pig’s babies.

I really need to stop eating cheese before bed.

Missing for 18 years

To whomever knows what happened to my neighbor girl 18 years ago. I used to think they’d find her next week, then next month, then next year. Then I thought, hopefully, she’d show when she turned 18. Now, 18 years after she disappeared, still waiting.

On the morning of August 21st, 1996 an 11 year old girl named Trudy Appleby disappeared from a neighborhood in Moline, Illinois. She was last seen leaving her driveway/alley in a grey car resembling a Chevy Celebrity with a young man seemingly in his 20’s with curly brown hair. That would have been near 21st Ave and 41st Street in Moline. She has not been found, seen or heard from since. Surely, someone who knew her remembers something she may have said about making plans to go somewhere, or someone knows the person she went with. So, dig back into your memory banks people…..because the answer is out there.  Could be something you heard, something you remember, something you thought you saw…..no matter how trivial it may seem, it may be the answer.  If someone knows something, please contact the authorities. It’s been 18 years…it’s time for closure…it’s time to bring Trudy home.

Don’t think it can’t happen in your neighborhood, because it happened in mine.  Never stop looking, never stop listening…remember the missing.trudy

 

Be a Maybasket Fairy

Tomorrow, May 1st, is May Day.  I am not sure if young ones today are familiar with the Maybasket tradition.  I learned of it when I was 6 years old.

I was in Mrs. Bell’s 1st grade class at William Carr School.  I brought home a Maybasket.  My mother told me we must leave it on the neighbor’s door, ring the doorbell and run and hide.  We had to hide really good, because if our neighbor, Grace  found me, she had to hug me and give me a kiss.

Well, I left that Maybasket that year, and each year after that.  When I was gone away, my mom made sure someone else (usually my sister) left that Maybasket.

As Grace grew older, so did I.  Eventually, I had kids of my own and could not run as fast as I used to.  So, my kids dropped my Maybasket off and did the running and hiding.

The years went by and Grace moved, and I would find her and leave a basket on her car.  When she ended up in the nursing home, I would have it delivered to her room.  At one point, we had a conversation and she said “I can’t believe the Maybasket Fairy found me here at this nursing home.”  All her friends knew of her Maybaskets, and at one point, she had collected and saved several of the baskets.  She once told me “If you see that Maybasket Fairy, could you give her a kiss from me?”

There was a point in her life where Grace no longer was able to speak or indicate that she knew me….but I still took that Maybasket every year.  Last year was my last chance to make my delivery as she passed away.  She had to be fed by someone, and could barely keep her eyes open.  She was a mere shell of the firey redhead that used to live next door to me as a child….but when she saw that Maybasket, I could see a little twinkle still in her eyes.  She may have forgotten me, but she always remembered her Maybasket.

So, this year, if you haven’t done so, start a tradition.  Be a Maybasket Fairy to someone.  It will brighten and enrich both your lives, and even though it sounds quite simple, it brings great joy.

Happy May Day up in Heaven Grace…..I hope you get a lot of Maybaskets up there.

 

The Story of Grace and The Maybasket Fairy

It’s Mayday.   From the time I was 6 years old, Mayday has been very special and holds a tradition near and dear to my heart.  I learned about Maybaskets in the 1st grade, and was very excited to bring home my first homemade one.

“Mommy” I asked, “What do I do with this?”  So, mom came up with the idea of leaving it on our neighbor Grace’s front door.  She carefully instructed me to hang it on the doorhandle, knock really loud and run back to her around the corner of our front porch, where we hid.  She said “Run fast, because if she catches you she has to give you a hug and a kiss.”  Well, she did not catch me that year, or the year after that, or even the year after that.

This became a tradition, every year for the past 48 years Grace has gotten a Maybasket.  When I moved away, my sister left them, and when I moved back to the area, I picked up where I had left off.  When I became an adult with children of my own, I taught them the joys of leaving Grace a Maybasket (partly because I couldn’t run as fast anymore and partly because I wanted to share this tradition with them).

When I was about 40 years old, Grace finally figured out who her Maybasket fairy was.  They had torn down our neighborhood to build a Walgreens and Grace had moved into a secure apartment complex.  It was impossible to sneak in, hang it on her door and run, so I started hanging them on her car.  One day it seems, she caught me out the window.  She never really told me she caught me, but would say things like…”The Maybasket fairy came to see me again…I wish I could catch her so she could get a hug and kiss.”  Then she would say “If you see the Maybasket fairy, would you please tell her thank you?”

Her Maybasket was so important to her every year.  After she had to go into assisted living, I tracked her down through family and friends.  Grace should not have to go without her Maybasket.  She said to me once “I can’t believe the Maybasket fairy found me here!  I love my Maybasket fairy!”  I told her the Maybasket fairy would find her no matter what.

I am now 54 and Grace is about 95.  A few years back, she had a stroke and it was thought she would pass.  She got her Maybasket early that year.  She is somewhat like a baby now….unable to feed herself, unable to speak really.  She looks blankly at you when she does look at you.  Last year, she couldn’t wake up long enough to realize I was there.  This year, however, she opened her eyes, unable to speak, the corner of her mouth tried to curl up in a little grin.  She may not realize who I was, but I know she remembers her Maybasket.