Monday, December 13, 2010

A Million to One

I'm willing to bet you don't recognize the young woman in this picture.  And even if I said, oh, that is Jessica Morales, I can still see the shrugs all around. 

And that's only to be expected.  Once the most famous person in America for an entire weekend, she has gone on to live her life quietly, living, working and marrying in America, all without being featured in the gossip columns and Star magazines or enduring an Oprah interview.

Jessica and mom
She was born Jessica McClure in oil-rich Midland, Texas and had reached the age of 18 months in October, 1987. On the 14th of that month, she fell into a well, and for the next 58 hours the nation was transfixed over the rescue effort.  Everyone was either talking about "baby Jessica" or watching the live coverage, leading former actor Ronald W. Reagan, who had somehow been elected president of the United States, to quip "everybody in America became godfathers and godmothers of Jessica while this was going on."  He was always saying things like that.

As we saw it on CNN
CNN was not that much older than Jessica, having been launched in 1980, but this was one of the events that helped to make the 24-hour news channel such a vital part of life today.  It seems hard to imagine, but back in the day, when there was only ABC, CBS, NBC and some local independent station that showed a lot of cartoons and reruns, the news was maybe an hour at dinnertime, and we would learn what we were to learn about well rescues and the like from the morning paper, once we found it on the roof or under the DeSoto.

One of the shows we used to watch when there were only three networks was called "The Millionaire," which depicted the fictional rich guy John Beresford Tipton, whose hobby was to send his majordomo Michael Anthony to randomly-selected individuals and give them a check for a million bucks, with the only proviso being that they couldn't tell anyone how they got so doggone rich all of a sudden.  Then Tipton would sit back and see how being rich messed up their lives, and we would sit back, sip our ginger ale, and be reminded again that being rich isn't all that great (but we'd sure like to find out for ourselves!)

On March 11, 2011, Jessica, who is married to a man named Daniel Morales and is the mother of their child Simon, will receive $1,000,000 on her 25th birthday, the proceeds of a trust fund set up for her to set aside the cash donations that were sent to her in 1987.  Expect a thirty-second story about it on the news, but I'd love to see how becoming a millionaire changes her life.  I hope it's all good for her!

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