Monday, December 6, 2010

Memory of Michael

When I attended my 45th high school reunion in August, I talked to a bunch of people about my "Dubois Hill" blog. I assured them that I would be blogging more, and soon, about our growing up. It didn't happen, though. I was overwhelmed with family responsibilities and the responsibility of writing and directing a play as a fundraiser in mid-October for our town library. September and October passed and I hadn't blogged at all. Then November began, and I started thinking about the play I have to write for next summer. "Thinking" is the operative word; I was suffering from writer's block. Now December has begun, and I am still without an idea for SUMMERPLAY. I hope that blogging again might get my stalled creativity started.

Back in August, I wrote about first grade and Mrs. Todd. A talk with Gary Masline at our reunion, reminded me of a student whom I had failed to mention. His name was Michael, and he was very interesting and a little frightening to us first graders. He had a wild look in his eye, little to say, and whenever he walked down the hall or ran across the playground, he slapped his leg as he rode his imaginary horse. I remember being assigned to help Michael with his pumpkin person project. This project involved cutting out a big orange circle and a lot of smaller green ones and joining them together with those two pronged bendable attaching things and creating a pumpkin man. I don't remember how we did on making a gourd guy, but I remember being pleased that I had been assigned to aid his efforts. At the reunion, Gary and I talked about Michael and wondered if he was autistic, victim of a condition that I don't believe was labeled in 1953. I think of all the help a boy like Michael would receive if he were in school now and realize that he probably got no assistance back then, save for Mrs. Todd's determined efforts and occasional help from kids like me with his pumpkin-people kinds of projects. I can only think how tough it must have been for his parents, and I have real admiration for them. I can also think how very tough it must have been for Michael. What became of him, I cannot say, as he was gone from our school by second grade.

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