I am eternally grateful to the Pound Ridge mothers who joined my effort, 20 years ago, to plant a memorial garden, skirting the Pound Ridge Community Church playground, to honor the 168 victims -- including 19 babies -- killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. Here is the article written by dear friend Cynthia Wetzler:
Pound Ridge Sculpture Honors Oklahoma Dead
By CYNTHIA MAGRIEL WETZLER
Published: April 27, 1997
POUND RIDGE— IF rocks could speak, the white alabaster in ''Unfinished Lives'' by the Pound Ridge sculptor Miles Slater might be saying to the dark granite that it enfolds: ''It's O.K. Let go of the pain.'' The sculpture was the focus of a commemorative ceremony at the Pound Ridge Town House last Saturday to remember the children who perished in the Oklahoma City bombing exactly two years before -- on April 19, 1995.
Melva Noakes, founder-director of the America's Kids day-care center in the Federal Building, flew here to attend the ceremony. Mr. Slater's ''Unfinished Lives'' seemed to mesmerize those who studied the hunk of granite in the sculpture, a piece of rubble from the razed building.
It all happened the way things sometimes do -- with synchronicity. A Pound Ridge resident, Bonni Kogen Brodnick, had kept the granite in her house for two years and never felt comfortable with it. It had been brought to Pound Ridge in June 1995 by Ms. Noakes to dedicate the Oklahoma City children's memorial garden, which runs along the playground of the play school at the Pound Ridge Community Church and is now blooming with daffodils. But Ms. Kogen Brodnick, who came up with the idea for the garden and enlisted a group of Pound Ridge mothers to help her plant it, said, ''The rock had energies that were reminiscent of an evil event.'' She took the rock to Mr. Slater.
Mr. Slater had been working on a white alabaster swan, which had recently cracked in half. ''I happened to look and see an indentation in one of the halves of the swan,'' he said. ''With only a little cutting, the piece of granite just fit in.'' What were meant to be swan's wings now encircle the granite in a protective gesture. ''My objective was to do something to diffuse the negative energy, the heat, the heaviness of the granite. The softness of the white alabaster, the antithesis of the harsh granite, embraces the rock.''
Mr. Slater, who spent a third of an investment banking career as president and chief executive officer of Salomon Brothers International and who left banking in 1995 to be a full-time sculptor, was moved after the Oklahoma City bombing to create ''Rescue,'' which depicts a fireman carrying a small child out of the rubble. The original in marble is in the Governor's Gallery permanent collection of the Oklahoma State Capitol. A bronze version is now in the Pound Ridge Town House along with ''Unfinished Lives'' until May 5, looking for a permanent setting.
''The strong bronze arms of the fireman cradle the child and echo the abstract form that cradles the granite rock in ''Unfinished Lives,'' Mr. Slater said. Synchronicity again? ''I didn't do it consciously . But I did want to show that men can nurture. The sculpture says, 'Let me give you my strength,' '' he said. Mr. Slater left the roughness of the original stone at the bases of both pieces of work untouched. ''They are meant to look as if they were coming up out of the debris,'' he said.
''Chills went through me,'' Ms. Noakes said. ''The statue is so white and pure, like the sincerity I have felt in the letters I have received for two years from the mothers in Pound Ridge.'' Ms. Noakes, dragged from obscurity into the limelight, has been besieged by the media and supported by people nationwide. But through the efforts of Ms. Kogen Brodnick and her group of mothers a special bond has been established between Oklahoma City and Pound Ridge.
Ms. Noakes said: ''It's a deep connection that has helped us through our grieving process, a process which has altered me. I'm making sure to spend more time with my family around the fireplace at home. We're holding hands at dinnertime again. I take time with them today. I may not have them tomorrow.''
As Ms. Noakes pondered the granite and alabaster sculpture, she said, ''That dark rock is sitting in such peace now.''
Photo: Miles Slater talking about ''Unfinished Lives'' and ''Rescue,'' right, during ceremony at Pound Ridge Town House. (Chris Maynard for The New York Times)
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