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Twelve-Year-Old Boy Hides Out at World’s Fair

May 17, 1964 - Twelve-year-old Dominic Tucci has been living off the land like a foraging trooper for the last nine days — the land of the New York’s World Fair.

Dominic disappeared nine days ago from his home in Port Washington, L.I. Today, his experiment in rugged individualism wound up in a shoe concession on the fairgrounds when a woman recognized him from a picture that had appeared in the paper.

Wearing a dirty shirt, dirty pants, and dusty shoes, Dominic sat in the Security Building at the fair later and told how he had slept in various pavilions and obtained money to buy food by picking coins out of fountains.

“I slept in the Gas Pavilion for three nights, four nights in the Continental Insurance Pavilion, one night at Coca-Cola, and one night in the Johnson’s Wax Theater,” Dominic reported. At the Coca-Cola pavilion, he said, the accommodations were not bad. He slept in a lifeboat that is part of the shipboard setting.

“Every couple of nights I’d sneak out and get coins in the fountain at the Bell exhibit, the Unisphere, and the what-do-you-call-it, the Astral Fountain. I’d get about $5 that way.”

He ate at the Brass Rail stands. A Roman Catholic who attends St. Peter of Alcantara Parochial School in Port Washington, he said he ate hamburgers every day except Friday. “I ate chow mein on Friday,” he said.

Although his clothes were dirty, Dominic himself seemed relatively clean. He said he washed himself in restrooms. He did not brush his teeth after any meals.

The police at the fair questioned him on numerous occasions when they found him wandering about the grounds. He said he told them his name as Tommy Murphy and that he was at the fair with his parents, or with friends.

Asked if he was afraid to sleep or prowl about the fair at night, Dominic looked scornful. “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said. “The place is crawling with cops.”

Dominic said he had left home with no particular destination in mind. “I snuck on a Long Island Railroad train,” he said, “and the next thing I knew the man was announcing World’s Fair and Shea Stadium.”

He was reluctant to say why he had left home. After a while, he admitted he was “having trouble at home — school trouble.” Dominic, whose father is a bricklayer, has five sisters and a brother, all younger than he. At one point, he said: “I wish I had five brothers.”

When Mr. and Mrs. Tucci arrived at the Security Building, Mrs. Tucci said Dominic was “adventurous, but not a bad boy.” She said they had not looked for him at the fair for the first few days because “if that’s what he wanted, let him have his fling.” Mr. Tucci, who was red-eyed, said nothing.

The boy and his parents were reunited behind closed doors. When they emerged, Dominic and his mother had their arms around each other’s waists.

The boy and his parents left the building and went toward their white station wagon. There were cheers and applause from Dominic’s sisters and brother inside the car.

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