'One Boy' Mystery Solved?

Coupon from 1925 IHC advertisement

Coupon from 1925 IHC advertisement.

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R #1 Box 486 Rockwell, Iowa 50469.

In the May 1990 issue of GEM, page 29, was a 1925 ad showing a coupon with a child's name and the ad of International Harvester asking, 'Whose name is this?' It was followed by 'Somewhere in the United States is a disappointed boy, waiting for a toy International truck we can't send because we can't read his name and address.'

In regard to that Vintage Advertising article please let me tell you of the exciting thing that has happened.

When I first came across the article with the headline, 'We Are Looking for One Boy-or Is It a Girl?', I got on two pairs of reading glasses and studied the signed coupon. I looked and looked. I was truly engrossed for about an hour, but of course, I could not decipher the words.

About ten days later I happened to tell my wife about the article. I went to my back reading room and brought her the magazine so she could try to decipher it. I turned on the kitchen light and also handed her a magnifying glass. No way could she come up with anything.

I was engrossed all over again and went in the back sitting room and pored over it again for another hour or so. I decided that in the beginning, the name of the state should and would be the most revealing clue. That possibly could lead to the rest of the detailed mystery. I looked and looked. I also had access to a large Rand-McNally Road Atlas of the United States. I accidentally opened the atlas to the state of Oregon, and checked the coupon again and there it was, Oregon, but not quite.

Yes, it was Oregon, but what was that next little letter 'o' for?-and behold!-a major break through! Well, the little 'o' was the period, even though it had gotten cocked off to the side, which made it look like another letter. Okay, so now all his dots would be small circles, and in this case the small circle was supposed to be the period after the Oregon abbreviation.

I believe this little boy was perhaps about five years old, and already had a sense of humor by making circles instead of dots.

Next I looked up the towns under Oregon that began with what I believed was Dow, and sure enough, there was Douglas as big as life. I checked on the map to see where Douglas was and couldn't find it at all, even with the grid marks. I rechecked the town listings, and discovered the Douglas that I had found was not a city, but a county.

Okay, so now the poor kid probably wrote in Douglas as a county instead of his city ? The lettering of the county also revealed some information. When he wrote Douglas, he missed writing the 'g' and the 'l', however he did make a real small 'l'. By this time he must have become flustered and knew he made two mistakes. He therefore decided to make a large 'g'-(which in his case turned out to be an inverted V, over and on top of the whole word. He never did put the 'l' back in. Remember, he was only five years old, and couldn't spell, so his Douglas came out Dougus Co. Oregon.

Next, I tried the address line. The last word on that line I decided began with a 'T'. His 'r's', 'i's' and 'e's', were all about alike except the 'i's' had this circle for a dot.

I looked up the towns again under T in Oregon, and up came Tri City. And yes, it was on the map in Douglas County. Hooray! Hooray! But where did he write the word city? Well, behold, he decided he didn't have to because the word 'city' was already printed on the next line on the coupon.

The address line also had a long word in it, and it looked like it may end with a 'burg'. Sure enough it did. This is where I discovered that he didn't use a whole small 'g', he just used the tails of the letter 'g'. In other words, his 'g's' are written as inverted 'e's'. I finally made out Ivanburg instead of Ivanhoe.

Next came his last name, and the first letters MO were quite plain. The inverted 'e' above the line was a 'g', and the 'i' with a connecting circle for a dot above it was an 'i'. So out comes his last name as Magi?

The first name was just as hard a word as the rest of the words. The first word on the first line, I conceded was the word 'from'. Not too hard for that word. The next word would of course be his first name, which didn't have much going for it from any previous discoveries. From dead reckoning by sight only, it probably is Helery.

Up to now, I had spent perhaps three hours on this in three sessions. In the 4th and last session, it seemed that Ivanburg 6 was a poor street address. I decided that Ivanburg was the boys last name and the 6 was his age. This makes a lot more sense. I recall that when you are six years old, a little boy has a penchant to write all three of his names, and his age too. I know I did-even my birthday. As Tri City had only 1039 residents in 1980 and perhaps not too many more in 1925, I'm sure the residents there didn't worry about street addresses too much. And therefore, this little boy didn't either, of course.

Okay, so now the deciphered coupon was finished as this: 'From Helery Magi, Ivanburg 6 Tri (City), Douglas Ore.', or today as: 'Helery Magi Ivanburg-age 6, Tri City, Douglas County, Oregon'.

In further pursuit of this lost boy or girl, I wrote a letter and addressed it to the mayor of Tri City, Oregon, and received the following reply from a Maureen Butler, City Planner with the city of Myrtle Creek, Oregon.

'We recently received your letters inquiring after Hilery Mogie Ivanberg. Tri City is not an incorporated city (no mayor or other city official), and does not have its own post office. The letters were eventually forwarded to the mayor of Myrtle Creek, who asked me to respond for him.

'The Tri City area received its name from the airport which is located there and which was not there in 1925. The area would have been known then as Missouri Bottom. It is most probably not the location you are looking for. The consensus here is that the state name on the coupon could very well be the abbreviation for Oregon, but it could also be Arkansas. Just for the heck of it, the local police department ran a search for the name Hilery Magee or Mogie or Ivanburg on the computer but were unable to locate any match.

'We also feel that the address on the coupon could be describing an intersection type address and what appears to be the number 6 is actually the symbol '&.' and reads Ivanburg 6k First or Fourth or some such address.'

It appears that I am at a dead end in my search, and am now finished with my part of the work. If someone can decipher the coupon successfully, perhaps after 65 years Case IH could still present him with a new Case toy tractor or even give him his dollar back with interest. They could also tell him how sorry they were that he didn't get his toy. We have the potential for a very interesting story here!