Tonka's mom and step-father were married in Los Angeles in 1968, but were back in Arizona and living in Phoenix by 1969. They lived in a large mobile home in a park on what was then the southwest edge of Phoenix. You could watch the movies at the drive-in theater next door from their living room window.
When Tonka's mom and step-father split, mom left the 3 kids with a sitter. (step)Dad, who was working out of town that week, tracked the kids down when he got home and found his wife gone. His version of the story is that he came home to an empty trailer pad, a full garbage can, and an emptied bank account. He tried to keep the children, but he says the laws in Arizona at the time declared that a young single man (man being the operative) could not adequately care for three pre-schoolers on his own. They took the children into foster care over his protests, and effectively drove him out of Arizona. He went home to Utah, bounced around the western US for a few years, and eventually settled in California. There he divorced, remarried, lived, and died.
He carried a small collection of photographs of Tonka and her siblings until he died. The children -- and their photographs -- were very precious to him. He thought Shelley went to her maternal grandparents, but often wondered what became of Tonka. The State of Arizona did not pursue the girls in 1977 as they did Jamie because he had no legal responsibility for or claim on them.
Tonka, if you're out there, I'd love to hear from you. Respond to this blog with identifying information about your mother and about a childhood health issue. No strings attached, just hope to resolve one of those loose ends in life.
Have hope. Give thanks for loving families. Pray for children who are alone, whether abandoned or orphaned. ...
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