The 1960s have a reputation as a rollicking era of freewheeling partying and thunderous turmoil. The decade is known for hippies, assassinations, the rampant use of psychedelic drugs, riots, black Americans demonstrating to demand their civil rights, protests against the Vietnam War, communes, and “love-ins.” It is easy to forget that, for the majority of Americans, the traditional strictures about marriage and family life still held strong in that decade.
For example, out of wedlock pregnancies were still quite stigmatized among most Americans in the 1960s and women who found themselves pregnant sans marriage were often said to be “in trouble.” Abortion was illegal so unmarried pregnant girls and women were expected to slink off to homes for unwed mothers, disappearing from public view when their expanded bellies advertised their condition, and place babies for adoption. Of course, many women, including many married women, aborted despite the law. Some even committed suicide rather than carry to term.
A woman who found herself with an unwanted pregnant often felt trapped. This fact may be at the root of the mystery surrounding Judith “Judy” Hyams, a young woman who apparently vanished in 1965. Some accounts spell her surname “Himes.”
Judy was born in 1944. Her Dad was an affluent developer. In 1965, the 22-year-old Judy worked as a medical technician and lived in Coral Gables, Florida. Judy was a slim pretty woman with black hair and brown eyes. She often wore her dark hair in the “flip” style that was popular in that time period
Authorities believe that the unmarried woman went to a doctor for a pregnancy test in October 1965. However, she signed in under a false name, “B. Kenny,” indicating shame and fear at the possibility of a pregnancy.
Marilyn Jackson was a close friend of Judy’s but Judy did not disclose her condition to Marilyn. When interviewed, Marilyn recalled, “Judy never said anything to me that she might have been pregnant.”
On September 14, 1965, Judy phoned Marilyn and the friends chatted. Marilyn later said Judy said in that phone call that “she was leaving work early and going shopping.” Judy told some friends she planned to buy a watch.
Judy did indeed leave her job early. She then went to her bank and withdrew $300.
What she did next – or what someone might have done to her — remains a mystery to this day.
On the afternoon of September 14, 1965, Judy Hyams disappeared.