A Sad Day for America

I haven’t blogged in two days! Since when has something like that happened? I’ve had a cold, and tomorrow I’m going in for more oral surgery, so I haven’t been in the best of moods. Well, I’m going for a swim but I will be back later to blog the Golden Globes.

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading various articles about the recent suicide of computer genius/activist/hacker Aaron Swartz. This one by Lawrence Lessig is the one that got me. But then it led me on a sad side trip and the story of extensive sexual abuse that took place over decades at the American Boychoir School. That made me think of Chet Allen.

Chet Allen was the boy soprano who was chosen to sing Amahl in Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, which was written for television and broadcast on December 24, 1951. Allen suffered from depression his whole life and he finally killed himself when he was 45. I immediately wondered if Chet Allen was a member of the American Boychoir School, and could his depression have roots in sexual abuse as a child? I remember reading how he appeared troubled even at 12 when he won the part of Amahl, which should have been a wondrously happy time for him. I checked Wikipedia:

“At the time he was selected as Amahl, Allen was a soprano member of Columbus Boychoir, founded in Columbus, Ohio. The music boarding school relocated in 1950 to Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1980 was renamed the American Boychoir School.”

Oh god. Is it possible? Except according to the lawsuit Lessig brought forth, the abuse started in the 1970s. Were any of the people from the 1970s there in the 1950s? Well, that will possibly be a sad research project for someone. Anyway, my sad side trip just seemed to underscore the distorted sense of justice we have in this country.

In any case, if I decide swimming is not a bad idea, hopefully I will be back later feeling energized and more myself. (That will all go to hell tomorrow of course, following oral surgery!)

The whole time I was taking this picture I was asking him, “That’s comfortable? Really? That’s the story you’re going with?” He was resting there, just like that.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “A Sad Day for America

  1. I was wondering if you might have the flu, since you post regularly. Glad to hear it’s just a cold. Oral surgery…ugh, but hang in there. Should all be worth it.

    Love Bleeck’s coloring/markings, gorgeous! As for that position, cats can get in the strangest, twisted shapes and seem to be perfectly comfortable. So I bet he was satisfied with himself for finding a cozy spot!

  2. Me again: I wasn’t familiar with Aaron Swartz, read the blog post you linked to. Sad and tragic, indeed.

    Depression is an awful killer of dreams and accomplishment. I’ve suffered from it all my life, and did have an abusive childhood (no sexual abuse, but lots of exposure to family violence by an alcoholic fathers).

    I found a blog post by Aaron and thought it gave a glimpse into his personal hell, though written as a story.

    Link: A Moment Before Dying

  3. Oh dear, not sure if I want to read that but I will take a look. I went through my last depression after getting sober. Funny that getting sober would bring it on, but it makes sense. You are sober now and confronting ll the things you didn’t confront while drinking come out of the woodwork. But it was the last depression I ever went through, so there’s that.

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