‘One Boy’ Mystery Solved?

By Staff
article image
Coupon from 1925 IHC advertisement.

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!

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