By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Employees of the Massachusetts Resources Water Authority had planned on dedicating a bench and memorial stone to Baby Doe last Friday afternoon, but by the time the service began everyone knew her name was Bella.
The news had broken a couple hours earlier and the atmosphere went from somber to mixed emotions – anger, relief, sadness, disbelief.
Fred Laskey, executive director of the MWRA, said the memorial was supposed to a quiet ceremony for the employees. The press was not formally invited. Members of the MWRA Labor Coalition Union, which includes five unions on Deer Island, raised over $2,500. It paid for the red bench, memorial stone and doe statue. Blue balloons, the raise awareness of child abuse, flew from the bench.
“This was an unforeseen twist,” Laskey said as he approached the microphone soon after hearing that Baby Doe had been identified as Bella Bond. “This (the dedication) had been planned for some time. We had planned a quite, solemn ceremony. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. The MWRA employees on the Island felt a kinship to this child. Today the whole world has been flipped upside down. This shows the darker side of humanity.”
But the depth of humanity came out with the people most connected to Deer Island.
Mary Ann Hendricks, a Nipmuc Indian who now lives in Quincy, came to the memorial service Friday afternoon. Nipmuc Indians, also known Praying Indians, were banished to Deer Island during the 1675 winter. Half the tribe died or were sold to slavery. The remainder of the tribe traveled down Charles River to settle in the Natick area. Every October the tribe recreates the canoe trip from Winthrop to Natick.
Hendricks gently held a collection of eagle feathers as her daughter Dedey Wyman burned sage for the ceremony.
“This is a sacred place for us,” Hendricks said. “It’s almost like our ancestors brought her in.”
“I feel like everything happened for a reason,” said Susan Brazil, representing the MWRA Labor Council.
Ria Convey, press secretary for the MWRA, played a recorded version of “Amazing Grace” played on an Native American flute and people looked downward remembering Baby Doe.
“I invite you to think of all the Bellas on our streets,” said Rev. Robert Bacon, the MWRA Deer Island chaplin last Friday. “Be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”