The Tale of the Run-away Teen

Sixty-three years ago, police departments all across the Untied States were on the lookout for a Port Byron teenager who had disappeared from the village without a trace. It’s one of those little stories that sit in the files of that Lock 52 Historical Society that one can stumble across while doing some sorting. On May 20, 1954, Margaret Joan Annan, the daughter of Scottish immigrants, had walked to the post office to mail a letter and simply disappeared. What resulted was a nation-wide search for the girl. The police had two clues that they had to go on. In addition to the standard description; a 13 year old girl dressed in a gray topper and skirt, pink blouse and saddle shoes; she appeared to mail the letter from Syracuse instead of Port Byron, and she had quite a bad case of poison ivy. Aside from this, the police had nothing. It was said that a panel truck driver from Port Byron had been seen with a young girl in Syracuse, but then it was reported that Margaret had been seen in Auburn waiting for the Syracuse bus. After a week, the search then shifted to Waterloo and Rochester when a letter was received at home saying she was well and not to worry. Little came from this clue and after a search of both Syracuse and Rochester, including the drug stores (remember the poison ivy), the police stated that this was “one of the most baffling cases that they had ever handled”. For a time, the search went as far as California where there were friends, and to Florida. But the Florida authorities would not allow any searching without proof that Margaret was there. The story received wide coverage as Margaret had a brother who was the city desk editor at the Syracuse Post Standard, but even this didn’t help. In the end, when her $70 was gone, Margaret had to write home to ask for money to help pay the rent. She was in Washington DC, living at the woman’s hotel and working at a department store. She had gone through a employment agency that had skimmed money from her wages leaving her short. But was fine, just a young teen on an 22 day adventure. She even included photos of her around the city to show that she was getting along nicely. But the adventure was over. Her brother flew to Washington and brought her home.

Many will recall Margret as she married Julian Mahunik and ran Julian’s Bakery, a store that still brings back so many great memories for those who were able to visit it. She passed in 2001.