Arts and Leisure

Frederick Pickering Cabot – Taking the Children’s Side

Judge Frederick Pickering Cabot was the picture of perfect Boston Brahmin. Born in 1868, he was descended from one of New England’s wealthiest families.

Francis Pickering Cabot in court in 1919

Francis Pickering Cabot in court in 1919

He would become president of the Harvard Union, President of the Boston Symphony, a regular at the Union Club, no doors were closed to him. But he was probably most remembered and most beloved by generations of poor Boston children for his tireless work advocating for them in his role as judge at the Juvenile Court in the early 1900s.

Helen Howe told the story of his frugality in her book, The Gentle Americans. Cabot, she recalled, sold eggs from his farm door-to-door on Beacon Hill, even long after he had become a judge. At one symphony concert, he rose to make an announcement before the start of the program and an excited youngster in the audience blurted out: “Hey, That’s Our Egg Man.”

Cabot was highly regarded as a judge. His philosophy was that what a great many delinquent children really needed was someone to believe in them and support their growth and development. And he became the support system for many youngsters in trouble with the law right up until his death in 1932.

One child who never forgot Cabot’s kindness was Korczak Ziolkowski, known as Joseph when Cabot first met him.

Henry Standing Bear and Korczak Ziólkowski

Henry Standing Bear and Korczak Ziólkowski

Ziolkowski had been orphaned when his parents died in a boating accident and adopted into a foster home where he was badly mistreated. He was more of a servant than a son to his adoptive parents, and at 16 he ran away. He worked three jobs to support himself and was taken in by a soft-hearted school teacher.

As Cabot interacted with the boy, he saw the blooming talent. Ziolkowski would recall Cabot heaping praise on him for his work, and holding him up as an example to younger boys as a role model. Cabot and Ziolkowski would meet regularly for dinner, alternating between the Union Club and a local cafeteria.

The encouragement Cabot offered, Ziolkowski would later say, helped him heal his life. One of Ziolkowski’s first sculptures was of Cabot, as a tribute to the judge.

Ziolkowski would go on to become a well-established sculptor and a contributor to the carvings on Mount Rushmore. His signature work, which he began in 1948, is still in progress. When finished it will be the world’s largest sculpture of Crazy Horse, the legendary Native American warrior.

Lakota Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear commissioned the project in 1947 as a tribute to Crazy Horse. The statue is just 17 miles from the Mount Rushmore statue of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. “I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too,” Standing Bear said of the project.

Ziolkowski originally signed on for the work in the early 1940s, but delayed the start so he could volunteer for service in World War II. But upon his return, the work started, and it continues today, carried out by his children and the foundation established to see the sculpture carried to its finish.

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