Most of you probably thought about doing it at some point: hopping on your Big Wheel and putting plastic to the pavement, throwing off those oppressive kid shackles and jumping headlong into the grownup game -- running away. Maybe you pulled some lightweight stunt and hid out in a treehouse for a day, or headed over to a friend's house a few blocks away, where the people finally understood you.
But there have been a few kids who took running away and made it into an extreme sport you would never want to play.
#6. Barbara McVay Stows Away on a Submarine
In 1966, 17-year-old Barbara McVay decided she really needed to get to the U.K. The only problem? She lived in Maryland, which was tragically not in any way connected to the U.K. In her mind, there was only one option: to run away from home.
"Life isn't worth living without soggy French fries and obscenely expensive cigarettes."
So why'd she do it? And what was her chosen mode of transportation?
Let's see ... it's 1966. The Beatles have achieved a certain amount of success with the teenage girl demographic ... the song "Yellow Submarine" has just come out ... ah, yes, it all makes sense.
It was a long and winding road, so being a day tripper, she got a ticket to ride. (Hey Jude).
"I like English boys," she would later tell police when asked her motive for stowing away inside a 1,600 ton British submarine. "I couldn't go legally, so I had to do it illegally."
She had slipped past officers guarding the sub, which was docked in Baltimore on a goodwill visit, tucking herself away inside a conning tower compartment of the HMS Walrus (yes, even reality couldn't resist adding bad Beatles references to the mix). She stayed in her spot for 12 hours before making her presence known, and then it was only due to the fact that she was on the edge of fainting from carbon monoxide fumes.
English boys prefer the rosy, deoxygenated look.
And it's a good thing she came out, too, because the compartment would have slowly filled with water when the sub fully submerged. As it was, the sub was only four hours into its trip across the Atlantic, heading for Scotland, when the crew found out they had a stowaway. Rather than make the kid swim back, they turned the sub around and dropped her back off at Baltimore.
They apparently couldn't come up with a worse punishment.
For its part, the British Navy was characteristically dry and sarcastic about it all, with Captain Douglas Scobie telling the press:
"Certainly, we can't have that sort of nonsense going on in the British navy. Taking away one of Baltimore's citizens is rather overextending our appreciation of their hospitality."
"Especially one who is already crazier than a cat lady at the age of 17."
#5. Semaj Booker Grand Theft Autos His Way Across the Country
NOTE: DO NOT TRY THIS. Especially if you're a kid.
According to 9-years-old-at-the-time Semaj Booker, he just really wanted to see his grandpa, who lived in Texas. Semaj was in Tacoma, Washington.
There were probably several ways to accomplish this that would not involve stealing a car and leading police on a high-speed chase. Semaj did not choose any of them.
"Grand theft auto is way cheaper than a Greyhound."
This kid really wanted to see Grandpa. We have no idea what the hell this kid's grandpa had going on, but it must have been a lot more than a Werther's Original or 50 birthday bucks, because little Semaj Booker crushed just about every societal obstacle facing the average grandpa-bound 9-year-old beneath his mighty Heelys.
In January 2007, having tired of fourth grade life in his Tacoma suburb, Semaj Booker decided it was time to take matters into his own Elmer's-stained hands and get himself to Dallas by any means possible. He knew he needed to get to the airport. His first obstacle: Mom wouldn't drive him. So, he stole a car and took off for the airport himself, using the skills he'd learned from video games to speed down State Highway 512.
"We've got a report of a car doing sweet stunt jumps off bridges. Get that daredevil a trophy."
It wasn't too long before the police noticed, and a 90 MPH chase ensued. Luckily for everyone, Semaj must have remembered that in video games, high-speed chases start with police cruisers, escalate to helicopters and end with armored vehicles and the FBI buzzing around like angry hornets, and so he eventually pulled over for the cops. Then he remembered that all those things magically disappear if you drive fast and long enough, and so he took off again, kicking off another high-speed chase, which eventually ended in a miraculously non-fatal way when his engine blew.
Someone mixed up the oil with the coolant again, the little scamp.
The very next day, having been derailed but not deterred, the kid decided the quest for Grandpa's house was still on and hopped a bus to Seattle's airport. He soon hit his second great Kid Wall: He didn't have a plane ticket, nor had he existed long enough to fly unaccompanied without a note from Mom. But right at that moment an airline employee made an announcement over the PA system concerning a lost ticket belonging to a "Frank Williams." Semaj thought fast, approached a ticket agent and told him his last name was Williams. "Frank Williams?" the agent asked.
Ticket in hand, Semaj -- all nine years of him -- got through security and boarded a plane bound for Phoenix. He then transferred over to a plane headed for San Antonio. Grandpa was getting close. He then tried to con his way aboard a third plane headed for the promised land of Dallas, before Southwest employees noticed something was up and contacted Mom.
The grownup world may have put an end to that Grandpa crusade, but not for long: Over the next two years, police ended up having to bring Semaj Booker home another 12 times.
Grandpa must have been watching his war movies lying on a hooker mattress.
#4. The Boy With No Name Sets Up House in an Elevator Shaft
The (Mysteriously) Adorable:
Only so much is known about this little fella. His story appeared in The Milwaukee Journal and The Telegraph Herald in 1982. He ran away at the age of 13, and two years later, he decided he'd had enough of being on the road and wanted to go home to Mom.
The papers refused to name him on account of his age, so we've taken the liberty of just making one up:
Lil' Theodore Putin-MacGyver.
"My teacher says I'm bear-taming at a 12th grade level."
Trust us. It's appropriate.
Most of us had the dream, at some point in our childhoods: setting up camp in some kind of hideaway. Just decking the place out with all manner of cool tricked-out kid conveniences. This kid did that, except he was on the run for two years, and he converted a 5-foot pit at the bottom of a Connecticut apartment complex's elevator shaft into his very own Runaway Kid Bat Cave.
His father had reported the boy missing in 1980, and when they found him two years later, it was as a result of phone calls to the police from suspicious residents in the Crown Court apartment complex in New Haven, Connecticut. There had been reports of petty thefts, a quirky elevator and the mysterious aroma of hot dogs wafting through the air.
The calling card of Lil' Bat-Hobo.
Those residents who didn't realize that all of these things can add up only to a badass runaway kid soon learned their lesson when the police raided the Kid Cave and discovered he'd furnished his elevator pit with, among other things, a bed, lights, a stereo, a tape deck and a CB radio.
The hot dog aroma that the residents noticed? The kid had set up a propane stove, too. How'd he power all this awesomeness, you may be wondering? He'd tapped into the building's emergency power system. "What an irresponsible little brat," you may be saying, "the kid could have burned the entire apartment complex down." Well, he also smuggled a fire extinguisher into the lair.
Responsibly removing it from the burning room in apartment 14.
The malfunctioning elevator the residents were complaining about? Three years before the first episode of MacGyver even aired, this kid had that shit down, rewiring the apartment's elevator so as to be able to control it from his room.
The thefts the residents had been reporting came as a result of the kid having picked the deadbolt locks to the building's parking garage, along with his artful activation and deactivation of alarms so as to avoid detection. This kid operated like a runaway ninja shadow in the night; even the Children and Youth Services officials were impressed by it all, with Department Director Robert L. Budney stating:
"He appeals to the Robin Hood in all of us, I think. He's obviously very street wise, very crafty, very intelligent."