Los Angeles Times newspaper article about Kathy Fiscus.

Los Angeles Times newspaper article about Kathy Fiscus.

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Kathy Fiscus before — but it might explain why there are so many Kathys in the Class of 1968. I never heard of her either, but I remember my mother telling me that I was named after a little girl who fell down a well. I did a Google search on “Kathy who fell into a well, 1949, 1950″ and found her name. I didn’t know what year it happened, and only guessed.

It happened on April 8, 1949 in San Marino, California. Kathy Fiscus was only 3 years old, and she fell down a 120′ deep water well that was only 14” wide. A nationwide media circus ensued in the desperate attempt to save her life. According to a Wikipedia article, news of the round-the-clock drilling was covered not only in local and national newspapers, but also radio and television, a new medium at the time. It apparently was considered a landmark event in television history.

Unlike Jessica McClure who fell into a well in the late 1980s, the story for Kathy Fiscus did not end happily, and rescuers found her dead body two days later.

And this story is probably why, in the Class of 1968, we have not only myself,  Kathy Au, but also Kathy Benno, Kathy Brake, Kathie Brown, Cathy Carlson, Kathy Carr, Cathy Dibble, Kathy Erickson, Kathy Heminger, Cathy O’Rell, Kathy Southwick, Kathi Wagner and Kathi Whitehead.

So “Kathy” was a very popular name in 1949-1950. And it seems that when I meet a Kathy, it is usually a woman about my age, but not younger. Oh, the name Katherine (or Kathryn) is still popular, but the nickname “Kathy” is almost unheard of (in my experience) for anyone who is a child now.

So, to the Kathys of the Class of 1968 — I ask you, what do you think?

About Katherine Crosier

I am an organist in Honolulu—a rare breed of folks who play the King of Instruments! Through stories, photos, and videos, this blog is a diary of my musical journey ... and my family just groans!

14 responses »

  1. Margo Ewing says:

    I have a Kathy in my class this year. But you’re right, most girls go by Katherine (spelled a number of different ways.)

  2. […] contacted us recently. I certainly remember pretty Cathy as we shared a number of classes — See my post about Kathy Fiscus  for the reason there were so many Cathys and Kathys in the Class of 1968. Cathy has been on our […]

  3. There is actually a song about this , my Grandmother used to sing it to me when I was a child. I have a written copy of the song, it was in my Grandmother’s Bible.

  4. Kathy Jean Olson Ives says:

    I was named after Kathy Jean Fiscus. My name is Kathy Jean Olson Ives and I was born in 1953. My dad wanted to name me after this little girl because he felt so badly about what happened. I am honored to have been named after her.

  5. Baker Smith says:

    I’m 72 years of age. I remember being in my mothers’ 1948 Chevrolet, intently listening on the car radio as this tragedy unfolded. We were sitting at a red traffic light in Mountain Brook, Alabama.
    So long ago…65 years, and I’ve never forgotten the young lass named Fiscus. Only my passing will erase the memory of such a sweet and innocent child.

    Baker Smith, Birmingham, Alabama

  6. Kathleen says:

    I, too, was told by my mother that I was named after a little girl who fell in a well. My full name is Kathleen, but I was always called Kathy when I was young. Thank you for the enlightenment.

    Brooklyn, New York – Class of ’68

  7. Kathy Miller says:

    My name is Kathy and I was named after the little girl that fell into the well, I was born on April 8 1959 exactly 10 years after she died.

  8. Kathy says:

    My mother was 17 (and married!) when she was pregnant with me in 1949 ,,,, she was so moved by the story of little Kathy Fiscus that when I was born in December of 1949 I was named Kathleen but called Kathy. I graduated in 1968 and there were at least five or six Kathys!! That little girl made quite the impact on a lot of lives!

  9. John M Davidson (Baltimore MD) says:

    Kathy: I was pretty much the same age as Kathy Fiscus, being born in November of 1945. We lived in Pacoima at the time. I remember the TV images of the site.Yes, we had a TV. I have vivid images of Stan Chambers narrating the scene.

    I have lived with this memory for a long time. Had I been older I may have even been one of the little boys who volunteered to be lowered into the well to reach her.

    She was such a precious thing. Thank you.

  10. Carolyn says:

    I was born in 1955 and wasalways told my name was going to be Kathleen, after my maternal grandmother. But my father said he couldn’t name me Kathleen because it would always remind him of the little girl named Kathy that fell in a well and they couldnt save her. Interesting that others were named after the little angel. They named me Carolyn instead.

  11. Esward H Guffey says:

    I was four years old when my daddy told my mom about Kathy falling in the well. I began to cry. Dad told me they will get her out. Each morning I would sit on his lap as he listened to the news on the radio. I would ask have they got her out. he would say no but they will. then came the morning he told me that she had died. I cried all day. I have thought about her a lot the past 69 years. When the song came out The death of little Kathy I learned the song I will always remember the words. she was a beautiful little angel and as the song goes She is happy up there with God Now,

  12. […] Kathy who fell down into a well (you can read all about it on my high school blog post, “The story of Kathy Fiscus (1945-1949)” on why so many females my age were named […]

  13. Kathy H. says:

    I was born in Louisville, KY in 1951. My dad and mom were married in 1948. Apparently when this happened Daddy told Mom he thought that was a pretty name for a little girl. I guess he never changed his mind. Two years after she died I came along, and Kathy it was.
    I can imagine in Burbank it would be a popular name.

  14. […] named after Kathy Fiscus who fell down a well! I wrote a blog post for my 50th high school reunion, which you can read here, which explains why so many girls my age got named Kathy!) And get this, Caroline’s mom Kathy […]

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