Random Thoughts

The mystery of the kneeling figure

... who can it be?

by Ed Boyd

In an another life some forty five years ago, I was the Director of the Dearborn
School, a school run by
Lesley College for emotionally disturbed children as they were called then. After
I had been there for a
year I got a call from Helen Gurin, a clinical social worker from the Judge Baker
Guidance Center. Helen
told me that the Judge Baker was no longer accepting young females. I was asked
if I could take Donna Blass
and Denise Davenport. I knew both girls from when I had worked at the Judge
Baker, Manville School from
1959-1964. I was an easy take, so I agreed to take both girls.

It did not take Donna too long before she found my door. I can still see her
stomping up and down in the
corridor just outside of my office. At fourteen, Donna was most often in a
frenetic, agitated depression.
Crowned with flaming curly red hair, her tiny body seemed always in motion. Her
murderous thoughts were
easily evoked. I remember sticking my head out of my office to say,"You seem a
little troubled this
morning, Donna?"Donna said, "You just wait! I'm making enough gun powder at home
in my cellar to blow up
this fuckin place!"

This was characteristic of Donna, as she was enraged most of the time. I remember
suggesting that she come
into my office for a talk. I did take her very seriously, but felt it was
possible to honor her rage without
censuring her. In those days I had been reading a lot of Albert Camus. I gave
Donna a copy of The Myth of
Sisyphus to read as she was very intelligent. After Donna had read the Camus
story, she came to me asking me
to tell her what it meant. I told her that she must figure out the meaning for
herself. Many years later,
when Donna was about fifty years old, Donna came to visit me. She told me that I
was one of the important
persons in her life for the way I treated her. The Sisyphus story, Donna said,
meant to struggle and survive
she learned sometime later.


I was offered to do a doctorate at Boston University. I did very much like my job
but felt this was too good
to pass up. Reluctantly, I told the students I would be leaving for B.U. One day,
Donna came to my office
and presented me with this picture she had drawn. It shows the Boston skyline
with a figure in the
foreground, kneeling, bowed over. I have never been sure of whom the kneeling
figure is supposed to be.

March 6, 2015

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