It wasn’t until he was a teenager that Steve Dennis learned he’d been found as a baby in a telephone booth. A front-page story in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette on 16th January 1954 explained how two bread deliverymen had found him early one morning wrapped in blankets inside a cardboard box in the phone booth near Lancaster, Ohio.
There was no way of knowing how long the baby had been there. However, the baby was very cold to the touch, as was the bottle of milk left with him in the box.
The mystery soon captivated the residents of Lancaster. In just 2 days, dozens of locals had inquired about adoption, and tried to help police identify the phone booth baby. Nobody knew who put him there or why, and for a long time in the decades that followed, Dennis didn’t know either. He had always known he was adopted as a baby, and he didn’t think he would ever find his birth parents.
However, it was his two children, aged 18 and 14 years old, asking questions that forced Dennis, a retired chiropractor, to undertake a DNA test to try and find out more.
DNA testing gets answers
Within 3 months of submitting his DNA sample to an ancestry site, a first cousin had ‘matched’ with him. And this cousin said that he believed he knew Dennis’s mother. Apparently, throughout his life, he’d known that there was a hidden secret about a baby he was related to that had been left in a telephone booth. The cousin put him in touch with his half-sister, who then contacted their mother.
Dennis’s mother was 85 years old, living in Baltimore, and at first had a hard time remembering all the details. However, week by week she was able to recall what happened. She had given birth at 18 years old but was given an ultimatum by the father that they could only marry if they left the baby. On a drive through Ohio from Kentucky, where Dennis was born, his birth father allegedly made the decision himself, taking the baby and leaving him in the phone booth.
The father then disappeared himself and no-one knows what happened to him.
Dennis now has half-sisters, which mean a lot to him, as he grew up as an only child. He is visiting his mother later this month, and hopes to find the missing piece of information. He’d love to learn his birthday, but the date has escaped his mother.
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