Just a Jew. Named Mitch. Writing about his feelings.

Be Careful of Child Thieves in Trees

Posted by JewMitch on December 26, 2010

So when I was a kid, there was this parking lot for a Jewish community center that was directly across the cul-de-sac where I grew up (actual Google map photo above).  It was a really cool parking lot, in the sense that it had ramps and was usually empty of cars – the perfect place for a kid to ride his bike or rollerblade.  So naturally, I’d want to go there on afternoons to play.

This was fine with my overprotective Jewish mother, except for the fact that there was a thin row of trees that separated my cu-de-sac from the parking lot, and to her, this seemed like the perfect place for child abductors to hide. Although, these weren’t ordinary child abductors who wanted to kidnap kids, rape them in white vans and then murder them.  These were members of the White Slave Trade.

My mother was very big on instilling a fear of the White Slave Trade in me from the time I was a small child.  Apparently, in Potomac, Maryland (one of the nicest and safest communities you can imagine), there was a large gang of international child thieves, who would kidnap kids from the parking lots of Jewish community centers and then sell them into the white slave trade.

As much as I could figure out, the White Slave Trade mostly took place somewhere in Asia – where there was a premium for skinny boys with fair hair and blue eyes (my hair was lighter then).  I never fully got the gist of what would happen if you were sold into the White Slave Trade, but it seemed to involve performing unpleasant sexual acts and doing a lot of chores.  Similarly, my mother loved to tell me that I should be extra afraid of ever going to jail, because the other inmates would consider me to be a “pretty boy.”

So, whenever I went to the parking lot to play – my mother would always instruct me to inspect the trees to make sure there was no one hiding there to steal me away.  Now, if this was some thick forest outside of a Walmart parking lot near a prison, that would be perfectly logical advice.  Except this was Potomac, Maryland – outside a Jewish community center, in daylight, and it was a single row of trees.

I was retelling this story to a friend the other day, and he commented that if there really were child thieves in these trees, you’d think that the authorities would be able to do something about it.  “Oh yes, we know there’s an international gang of child slave traders operating out of that row of trees by the Jewish community center – there’s just nothing we can do about it.”

Needless to say, I kept my guard up and thankfully made it out of Potomac alive.


One Response to “Be Careful of Child Thieves in Trees”

  1. Eric said

    That was not a JCC, but rather a building owned by the synagogue that my family attended. I attended Hebrew school in that building for 10 years or so. Regardless, your mom’s story holds water: in order to circumvent the long line of cars picking up kids from school of Sunday, my family’s carpool would merely park in the back parking lot and we would walk to the car. This, however, required an act of deception, as the school wanted children to be picked up curbside in front of the building. So, our parents would lie to the school administrators, claiming that we lived in the neighborhood where you actually lived and that, as a result, we would be walking home from Hebrew school on foot. In recognition of this deception, the school would issue us a “walking pass” that we would tape to the front of our binder and display to the staff so that we’d be allowed to cross the street into the parking lot. It is extraordinarily clear, now considering the full scope of evidence, that the school harbored the same fears as did your mom vis a vis the likelihood of (and their liability for) child abductions.

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