On October 14, 1987, an eighteen-month-old toddler named Jessica McClure fell 22 feet into an abandoned Midland water well that was only eight inches in diameter. For the next three days, rescuers frantically dug a tunnel to reach her while the little girl sang nursery rhymes to herself, called for “Mama,” and cried. To keep her company, local police officer Andy Glasscock would call down into the well, “How does a kitten go?” “Meow,” Jessica would call back. Baby Jessica’s plight mesmerized the country. CNN covered the story around the clock. When she was finally pulled from the well, the three major networks interrupted their regular programming to cover the moment. Jessica was honored at parades and at a White House ceremony. She was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the cover of People magazine and was the subject of a television movie. Today Jessica is fifteen. She is still living in the Midland area and attends a private high school, where she reportedly makes A’s and B’s and plays the piano and French horn. Her parents, Cissy and Chip, who married as teenagers, divorced in 1990. Both have since remarried, and Jessica divides her time between the two families. The trust fund that was set up for her in 1987, when donations were pouring in from around the world, is now in excess of $1 million. And that is about all we know about her. Jessica has never once done an interview about those three days that made her, at least for a while, the most famous child in America. “Her parents have decided that she should live as normally as possible,” says Glasscock, who is now a sergeant with the Midland Police Department and acts as an unofficial spokesman for the family. “And it’s hard to be normal when you always have a reporter coming around asking questions about what it was like being Baby Jessica.” Not that Jessica would know what to say if she was interviewed. She reportedly has no memory whatsoever of her time in the well.
From the September 2001 Issue Subscribe