|Headline from the Grinnell Register, August 28, 1911, p. 1|
In the dark of night, the paper continued, Somers headed over to campus and there "found on the steps of Goodnow Hall a boy baby, apparently about three weeks old, lying in an open suit case." Except to say that the rescued baby had been entrusted to the care of "Mrs. Mears" (meaning, presumably, Mrs. Alice Mears, who with her daughter, Eleanor, lived with the Morrisons at 1121 Park), the Register had little more to say about the child, concluding only with a hope "that some childless couple can be found who would be glad to adopt it."
|Goodnow Hall (undated photograph from Digital Grinnell)|
|Headline from Grinnell Herald, August 29, 1911, p. 1.|
The Herald added some particulars missing from the Register's story: "the child was warmly and comfortably dressed and several extra dresses and articles of clothing were in a bundle at his side," the paper reported. But no note accompanied the baby, nor were there any marks on the clothes to help identify the child.
****Subsequent issues of the Grinnell newspapers gave no more primary coverage to the abandoned baby; only a brief note, buried among the personalia of the September 1 issue of the Herald, announced without fanfare that "Mr. and Mrs. Frank Harding yesterday took out formal adoption papers for the baby found Saturday night on the steps of Goodnow Hall. The child's name will be Paul Somers Harding."
|Ida and Frank Harding with newly-adopted son, Paul (ca. 1911-12)|
(Family photographs courtesy of Judith O'Donnell Pansarosa who composed the Findagrave pages for the Hardings)
|Ida Szommer (1905)|
How the Hardings learned of the baby's availability we do not know, but the boy's middle name—Somers—implies that they felt indebted to Dr. Somers who had played a central role in rescuing the child and may well have arranged for them to adopt the baby. How they managed to feed an infant still accustomed to a mother's breast we also do not know, but somehow the child prospered, his growth and maturity only deepening his parents' affection. A 1915 article in American Stone Trade, evidently authored as a business promotion by Frank Harding himself, included a letter there attributed to four-year-old Paul: "Hello dare [sic]; my name is Paul. My papa sells monuments, and they are good monuments, too. I know they are 'cause he told me so...." In addition to supplying the journal with photographs of his stone work, Harding also posted a picture of a very fetching, healthy, and well-cared for young Paul.
|Paul Harding in American Stone Trade (May 1, 1915, p. 14)|
And then tragedy abruptly reasserted itself, rewriting the final act of this unlikely drama. On a September Sunday in 1921, ten-year old Paul accompanied his parents to a baseball game in Newton. That evening he complained of not feeling well, but went to school on Monday anyway. In response to his continuing complaints, the nurse sent him home, where the boy's health steadily declined, despite the attentions of four doctors summoned to help. His parents could only watch as the boy tailspinned away from them: Thursday evening, September 22, 1921, the baby rescued from Goodnow Hall ten years earlier died, doctors attributing death to bronchitis and a weak heart.
|Frank and Paul Harding (1915?)|
|Gravestone of Paul Harding (1911-1921) in Hazelwood Cemetery|