David Dzik

Joseph Mansfield

 

David had an unfortunate marriage.I donít remember where I got my information about it, nor how reliable that information is.But the essence of it is pretty simple.Davidís wife was institutionalized for psychiatric reasons.That would probably have happened in the mid to late sixties.At the time I first knew David he was still living with his wife.

 

David was an optometrist, and from what I later heard, had to squeeze in his practice between his wifeís frequent demands for attention.That would put a strain on any man.

 

David practiced in Chattanooga.To give himself some relief from his wife, he conceived the idea of opening an office in a rural village some thirty miles out, an office he would attend one day a week.He found some rental space in Dunlap, equipped it with a little furniture and basic optometric gear, but with no telephone.Ah!Relief!

 

Now this was in the fifties, and in those days in rural areas many people, and even some businesses, did not have telephones.It was an accepted practice, when there was a serious need, to call a neighbor of the desired party, who would fetch that party to the phone.How David avoided this trap I donít know.Perhaps he lucked up; perhaps his wifeóhe was from New York City so she probably was tooóknew so little of rural ways that she never saw this option.Or could David perhaps have been shrewd enough not to tell her who his neighbors were, or even what town he was in?In any case, he found relief in his day off, a day no where near filled with patients.

 

David needed a secretary, and that turned out to be my paternal grandmother, Okie Wagner Mansfield.She was a part time postal clerk.As such she knew practically everyone in the county.She was the ideal secretary for a professional man in need of clients.

 

Thus my acquaintance with David came through my grandmother.I was often in and out of his office and spent time talking with him.I recall that he liked things that made me stretch my mind.Puzzles, riddles, the drawing of generalizations and inferences.Whatever developed the ability to think rationally, logically.

 

The practice in Dunlap was closed when Mrs Dzik was hospitalized.But about that time I went to live in Chattanooga, where I continued to drop in frequently at Davidís Chattanooga office.I also developed nearsightedness at that time and turned to David for my professional care.Over subsequent years I mostly lived away from Chattanooga, but would touch bases with David from time to time.

 

I especially enjoyed visiting David at Orange Grove, an institution for the severely retarded.He was involved in research there in helping the patients develop perceptual and motor abilities.When I would visit he would delight in showing me his apparatus and techniques, and would explain his theories and experiments.

 

In about 1984 I found myself again living in Chattanooga, and from time to time would invite David to supper at my house.The beginning of the end came at one of those suppers.

 

David was saying something about soldiers who served in Vietnam having a high incidence of hardening of the arteries, and that research as to the cause was inconclusive.I commented that one hypothesis was that the problem was related to high levels of chlorine in the soldiersí drinking water, very high levels in cases where they had to make do with contaminated water where no treatment other than chlorine was available.

 

But I never said all that.I got as far as the word chlorine.At that word David exploded, used an obscenity, and said my hypothesis (it wasnít mine, but let that pass) was foolish, ignorant, on the level, say, of backward folk resisting vaccination or some other modern advance.

 

Break.

 

This man had been my teacher.He had encouraged me to reason.He had impressed upon me the need to read widely.He had made me think.

 

And now that I was thinking and reading and reasoning, he shouted down what I said, and responded with an obscenity.

 

I could give similar incidents from subsequent conversations but there is no need to.

 

What it amounted to was that David could teach a child; but when that child, with Davidís help, became a man, David could not admit the possibility of learning from his pupil.He could be superior; he could not accept the beginnings of equality.He rejected his own success.

 

Subsequent conversations with David were few.He could not handle my thinking for myself.Nor could I handle his rejection of my use of the very skills he helped me to acquire.

 

We parted on a sour note one day and did not communicate for two or three years.One Christmas I sent David a card and said I did not remember what we quarreled about, did he?, and letís get together and talk like old times.

 

There was no response.

 

© 2008 Joseph Mansfield

2004.11.05 first draft

2008.06.20 revised

2008.06.21 posted

 

 

Historical note:Davidís first office in Dunlap was a tiny storefront building sandwiched between Barker Chevrolet and Standefer Dry Cleaners.His secretary there was Aota Heard.By the time my grandmother became his secretary, he had moved to larger quarters on the second floor of the Community Building.

 

 

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