“Live and direct from Midland, Texas, Jessica McClure is up. She’s alive. What a fighter!” – Dan Rather, CBS News
The saga of the most famous toddler in the world (at least for a week anyway) started October 14, 1987, in the backyard of Jamie Moore’s Midland, Texas, home. Moore ran a daycare center out of her house, and among the kids under her care was her niece Jessica McClure, just a wee lass of 18 months.
Jessica’s 17-year-old mom Cissy was watching her daughter and three friends play in the backyard that afternoon when the phone rang. Cissy went inside to answer it (um…motherhood goals?), and when she came back out, three of the kids were looking down into an abandoned, dry well that had been dug on Moore’s property years earlier. The well opening had been covered by a flower pot (’cause THAT’ll prevent an accident!), and Jessica fell down the 8-inch-wide shaft and was now 22 feet underground. Um…whoops.
Within hours, news of Jessica’s peril spread, and it wasn’t long before the world sat transfixed watching almost every moment of her rescue unfold on live TV. The networks led their nightly newscasts with the latest, and the relatively new CNN covered the whole thing live, round the clock.
Workers eventually dug a well parallel to the one Jessica had fallen into, and then they dug a tunnel connecting the two, so rescue workers could reach her. (I suppose if you’re going to fall down a well, doing it in the heart of oil country, surrounded by people who dig wells for a living, is the way to go.)
58 hours later, Jessica was rescued, suffering only a scar on her forehead and damage to one of her feet, which required the amputation of a toe. And don’t tell us you didn’t jump off the couch when you saw her precious little body come up out of that well. Heck, we still get goosebumps seeing the news footage.
These days, Jessica’s a grown, 31-year-old woman, married with two kids, still living in Midland. Though she doesn’t remember anything about her 15 minutes of fame, we still remember it, because we’re children of the 80s. And the rescue of Baby Jessica was one of those awesome moments that only further our argument…that our favorite decade was indeed the best decade.
We ♥ Baby Jessica.