[Nfb-announce] senior newsletter
jsanders.nfb at comcast.net
Mon May 30 16:16:00 CDT 2011
Below you will find the spring edition of the NFB
Senior Division newsletter. Many of you will
receive a cassette version. If you do not
receive one in the next two weeks you can request
one off list by contacting me at
jsanders.nfb at comcast.net
National Federation of the Blind Senior Division
Volume twelve Number one
President, Judy Sanders
111 Marquette Ave. South apt. 503
Minneapolis, MN 55401
e-mail: jsanders.nfb at comcast.net
Submit inquiries to Ms. Sanders, at the above address.
Read by Will Schwatka
Editor, Pat Munson
10501 Lagrima de Oro NE apt 139
Albuquerque NM 87111
e-mail pat.munson at comcast.net
Articles for the National Federation of the Blind
Senior Division, newsletter should be sent to: Ms. Munson.
Table of Contents
By Judy Sanders
Meet Our New NFB Senior Division Vice President
By Ruth Sager
On the Road with the Louisiana Center RV for Seniors
by Wendy Ortigo
The Fun in Fundraising
by Nancy Burns
A Reminder of How Far We've Come
By Frederick Melo
North to Alaska
by Jim Babb
Art Schreiber Receives Yet Another Award
Jan Teaches the Blind to Live Independently
by Edie Grossfield
A Diabetic Life of Great & Not So Great Expectations
By Patti Harmon
The Sentence That Freed Me
by Pat Barrett
Schreiber's Half Marathon Walk
By Art Schreiber
This and That
By Judy Sanders
Before we know it many of us will be in Orlando,
Florida for the annual convention of the National
Federation of the Blind. All indications are
that this will be a record breaking convention in
terms of numbers of attendees. Here's what's on
tap especially for senior citizens.
On July 3rd the NFB Senior Division will sponsor
a seminar to explore solutions that many of us
take for granted. For instance, how do I shop for
groceries? How do I use my stove safely? Can I be
responsible for my own money? You will want to attend this seminar if:
Blindness is relatively new for you and you have
serious reservations about keeping your own independence.
You have always lived with relatives and would like to be more on your own.
You are active in your NFB affiliate and you want
suggestions on how to deal with newly blind people.
It is not necessary to register in advance for
this seminar. Just come on Sunday, July 3, at 1:30 p.m.
Then we come to Tuesday, July 5. This is the
annual meeting of the NFB Senior Division where
we will begin with registration and our
"not-so-silent" auction at 1:00 p.m.. How does it work?
At registration, you can pay your yearly dues of
five dollars and make sure we have your correct
address to receive this newsletter. Then you will
enter the meeting room where you can begin to
examine a display of lovely, delicious and needed
items. There will be people to take your bids
and for the next hour you will have to check to
see if anyone has outbid you. If so, you can
raise your bid. At the end of the hour we will
close the bidding on many items and declare
winners. Some of the items (the ones that we
think we can get more money) will carry over to
our regular auction and go up for bid during our
meeting. People's generosity in donating items
and bidding on them has made this an extremely
successful fundraiser for our division.
Want to donate an item or know more? You can contact Ramona Walhof at
rwnfbi at q.com
Her phone number is 208-338-1595.
During our business meeting we will explore how
we can enhance the image and importance of the
white cane. Why should seniors use it and how
can we work in our affiliates to share the thrill of traveling independently?
If you have ideas for our agenda you can contact
me using the information at the top of this
newsletter. Come join us in Florida where
seniors--particularly blind seniors--rule!
Meet Our New NFB Senior Division Vice President
by Ruth Sager
Editor's note: At the 2010 meeting of our senior
division Ruth Sager was elected to this position.
We welcome her to our board, although her work
with seniors is ongoing and very successful.
I grew up in Wisconsin, and attended the school
for the blind. I stayed in the state to attend
college where I majored in French and history.
I really wanted to learn to speak French well, so
when I learned that my university offered a
program in France, I applied and was accepted.
I enrolled at a university in Normandy. I was the
only blind student there, because the blind in
France attended the school for the blind which
was located in Paris. Because the transportation
within Paris is so good, most French blind
students go to universities there. Also, a lot of
them like living on their own away from the heavy hand of the family.
After I graduated from university, I was given
the chance to go back to Paris and teach English
conversation at the school for the blind. I had
about 120 students, because Europeans require
that students learn a number of foreign languages.
It was an amazing experience, because not only
did I teach French students who are blind, but I
had those from Africa and the Middle East. It was
very much an international school.
I then went to Belgium. I wanted to go there
because my other major was history and I wanted
to learn more about Europe after the Second World
War. While I studied, I supported myself by
giving English lessons. I found I could make more
money giving lessons there, than I could in my home country.
Finally, I did have to return to the United
States and found a job in Washington D. C. I was
a receptionist for a lobby called Grocery
Manufacturers of America. But since during this
time, I met, and married my husband, and we
started a business, I left that job.
I then stayed home to rear my three children as
they came along; now they are adults, and my
first grand child was born this past summer.
Since my husband was a great fan of ham radio, we
decided to move to Connecticut. That is where I
met the NFB and was nurtured by the then state
president, Jacqueline Billy. I learned the
federation philosophy from her, And I took on the
job of editing the state newsletter.
While I was working on the newsletter, Jerry
Whittle, a teacher at the Louisiana Center for
the Blind, held a writers' workshop. I was lucky
enough to attend. While there, I met all the
center staff and was very impressed with the work they were doing.
A number of months later, the center director
called me and asked if I would be interested in a
job there. I was and I took a job as a cane
travel instructor. I did that job for a year and
then moved to teaching independent living which I did for six years.
While I was teaching in Louisiana, my husband was
getting an advanced degree at the university
there. Then both of us were offered jobs in Baltimore, so we moved yet again.
I took a job with my present employer, and my
husband was employed locally. My husband's
parents were near, and since they were getting
older, my husband and I wanted to be near so we could keep an eye on them.
Now I have been at Blind Services for 15 years,
and about 11 years ago, I started the program for seniors.
Now we have 2, two-day a week programs structured
after the NFB center model. We have: cane travel;
Braille; independent living; computer; and
adjustment to blindness; the latter mentioned
class is part of all the instruction. Without
philosophy that a blind person can do whatever
the goal is, the classes would be almost meaningless.
Yearly we host a retreat for 4 days. This is a
chance for seniors losing vision to learn some of
the skills and hopefully lose some of their fear
of blindness. We also do one-day seminars such as
we did at the NFB convention in Dallas.
Presently I serve as president of the senior
division for NFB in Maryland. We have a meeting
and a lunch at the state convention.
As we all know in NFB, our work goes on and on.
As long as there are seniors losing vision, there
will be a great need for our work in this area,
and who is better qualified than NFB members. .
On the Road with the Louisiana Center RV for Seniors
by Wendy Ortigo
Editor's note: The following was presented at the 2010 NFBSD meeting.
At the Center, we have three programs for our
seniors who are 55 and older. The first program
is called the TLC program, Techniques for Living
Competently. About 90 percent of the seniors who
have attended this program are newly blind. We
have educated many doctors in our state, so they
refer seniors losing vision to us.
We meet with these seniors and teach them the
skills of blindness so they can continue their
lives. We actually go into seniors' homes. They
learn how to cook as a blind person. They clean
their home, and learn new ways to sew, garden, and entertain.
Since we have many rural areas in our state, we
try to gather several seniors so we can serve
more older persons at once. We find that seniors
in a group learn well from one another.
The second program we started 5 years ago and
call it the Senior Retreat. We have about 8
seniors come to the LA Center and live there for
a week. They stay in apartments so they learn to
manage running a home. When they first arrive,
they go to all the classes where blind students
are learning blindness skills; from watching
these students they quickly realize that they do
not have to give up what they thought only sighted people could do.
They observe students preparing a meal for 40;
students reading and writing Braille; using a
computer; and using saws and so on in the
woodworking shop. As they realize they can do all
these things, we have them prepare meals, pull
weeds in the garden and walk around with a white
cane. We also encourage them to tell us what they would like to learn.
We bring in musicians and other forms of
entertainment and show ladies how to apply
makeup. We tailor the program to the needs of the students.
Now we are very excited about our new project.
The funding has just come in, so it is time to
move. This program is called the MATES.
We are going to take the LA Center on the road.
The center has a 37 foot RV; it has been
transformed into a classroom. It has a kitchen
and a classroom containing everything we think a
newly blind senior could need. We will take the
RV to rural areas of Louisiana and park for about
three days. With this blindness education they
will learn that they can continue living in their home.
The RV will have a wheelchair lift so it will be
accessible for everyone. People are living longer
so they will most likely have more challenges.
With this program we hope to make life easier for many.
The Fun in Fundraising
By Nancy Burns
Editor's note: The following is from the
newsletter of the NFB of New Mexico. We all need
to raise funds to forward our work. Why not try this!
Don is as comfortable flipping hamburgers on the
barbecue as I am peeling ten pounds of potatoes
for potato salad. This was in preparation for
the West Mesa fundraiser. The patio tables were
arranged and set up for 25 chapter members. This
was all in preparation for another innovative fundraiser.
The first such event was hosted by Doug and
Hermelinda Miller and the second one was hosted
by Caroline and Diego Benavidez along with
Alexandria Reyes-O'Donoghue. Each of these
fundraisers brought over $100. The procedure has
been as follows: the host purchases, plans and
prepares a meal. Chapter members come and have a
wonderful meal and contribute to the chapter for
the meal. There is no set price.
The most recent, held on August 18th, was hosted
by Don and Nancy Burns and assisted by Jim and
Mary Babb. Hamburgers, hotdogs, and side dishes
were provided by Don and Nancy. As Mary served
up her chocolate cake and the popular
pineapple/cherry party cake, members dipped
generously into their wallets. By the end of the
meal, $275 had been raised for the West Mesa Chapter's treasury.
Good food, fellowship, and a desire to support
the NFB were the order of the day. What a great
way to share an enjoyable afternoon and to keep the fun in fundraising!
A Reminder of How Far We've Come
Editor's Note: We easily think that things have
always been as they are now and that they will
stay that way. The following article appeared in
the St. Paul Pioneer Press on May 21, 2010, and
is about a blind man who had a much more limited
time than most of us have today. Many of us grew
up at the time he did and were able to choose a
different path in life, but he wasn't able to do
that. We often looked down on what he did, but
we also worked to make better opportunities for
blind people. His ultimate goal was to be as
independent as he could be in his circumstances,
and we must respect him for that. However, we
must also remember that blind people no longer
have to do as he did, and we must respect ourselves for that.
Gordon Emo, 76: A familiar face is no longer there in St. Paul skyways
Blind man saw security in picking humble job selling pencils
By Frederick Melo St. Paul Press
Gordon Emo never walked on the moon or threw a
famous touchdown pass. He won't be remembered
for feats of philanthropy or scientific
achievement, and his name isn't inscribed on any memorials.
But to countless passersby on St. Paul streets
and skyways, Emo was known as the blind man on
the collapsible stool who sold pencils from a
cigar box for 40 years. He died Monday at
Regions Hospital in St. Paul after a long
struggle with lung cancer. He was 76.
"I said I didn't want to do that kind of work -
it's a disgrace to the blind," Emo told the
Pioneer Press in 1990, recalling the day a friend
suggested pencil sales to him. "But it's either
doing this or sitting home alone. I won't say
selling pencils is a good job, but it is secure
for a blind person, and I'm free from counselors
and other people who tell you a fairy tale, a
bunch of dreams that never come true."
Often dressed in a snowmobile suit to get through
the tough Minnesota winters, Emo began selling
pencils outside the old Bailey's Bar and Grill on
Wabasha Street in 1969. In the late 1980s, he
moved his sales to the skyway, where he took up
residence near the U.S. Bank building.
Emo kept a couple hundred pencils in an old Dutch
Masters cigar box mended with tape, selling them
for 10 cents apiece or three for a quarter. He
never made much money, but his self-styled
occupation introduced him to a wider world. He
was also well known at Mickey's Diner, where he often ate breakfast.
He grew up on a farm near Jamestown, N.D., and
graduated from the North Dakota School for the
Blind, where he studied biology and Latin. As a
youth, he could recite portions of the Iliad and Macbeth.
He never attended college but learned how to type
at a Twin Cities workshop for the blind, where he
also put together telephone parts and practiced
using a Dictaphone. After two years, he dropped
out to look for what he described as "a real job."
"I thought if I could get a job, my folks would
be proud of me," he said. "I thought I had qualifications. I had my suit on."
Instead, he found a series of closed doors. He
was engaged for a time until his fiancée died of
an illness. His three brothers, sister and
extended family became his close companions.
"He had a great sense of humor," said Emo's
niece, Elizabeth Kommer, 43, of Maple
Grove. "Even though his health was going down,
he seemed to be always bubbly, happy. He would
call me up and ask me to come over. His big
treat was going to the Dairy Queen. It was a joy for me to take him."
Emo, who was born blind, grew up at a time when
resources and legal protections for the blind
were more limited, said Joyce Scanlan, a board
member and past president of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota.
As children, Scanlan was a few years ahead of Emo
at the North Dakota School for the Blind, then
located in Bathgate, N.D. She had him as a
student in 1959 when she returned to the school to teach.
Some advocates for the blind saw Emo's pencil
selling as an insult, a throwback to the days
when the disabled had to beg on street
corners. But Scanlan, who was born partially blind, doesn't agree.
"He was doomed from the start, almost, because he
was totally blind," she said. "Times have
changed, we hope ... but a totally blind person
was at the bottom of the totem pole in a
residential school. I think he really did have
some intelligence, but the way he was treated and
the way he was regarded in the student body and
by the staff of the school, he didn't ever
develop the drive or the skills to deal with the attitudes towards him."
"I was at the other end of that scale from
Gordon, but I understand it better now," she
continued. "I'm totally blind now."
Following his wishes, Emo will be buried Saturday
next to his parents in a family plot at Calvary
Cemetery in Jamestown, N.D., said his brother,
Patrick Emo of Minneapolis. A visitation is
scheduled today at the Lisko Funeral Chapel in Jamestown.
"He was my brother, and I took him around," said
Patrick Emo, choking back tears during a
telephone call from his Super 8 motel room in
Jamestown. "He was a real good fellow. He was a
real good talker - that's what I liked about Gordon."
North to Alaska
by Jim Babb
Editor's note: Jim is the editor of the NFB of
New Mexico newsletter. He, like many of us, has
found cruising a great vacation.
Or should I say that cruising is great fun these
days! Decades ago when Mary and I took our first
cruise, it was fun also but you had a much
greater chance of getting seasick. That was
because the cruise ships were much smaller and
had more primitive stabilizers that weren't computer controlled.
Also these days you can take a cruise to almost
anywhere, as long as the water is deep enough;
that includes Alaska, the Antarctic, Polynesian
Islands and more. It's also relatively
inexpensive when you, or your travel agent, looks
for great deals. Many great cruise destinations
can be had for less than $100. per person per day
and that's what we got on our recent cruise from
Seattle, Washington to stops in Alaska and Canada.
Cruising in the old days was for the most part
for newlyweds and the nearly dead! Cruising now
is for singles and couples and children of all
ages; there were numerous children and babies on this cruise.
What amazed me was that there wasn't any other
white cane aboard the Zaandam. In fact there were
no guide dogs aboard, and no white canes or guide
dogs observed in Juno, Sitka or Ketchikan
Alaska. Although the long straight white cane is
my favorite, I chose to take my telescoping cane
because I knew that I would need to stow my cane a lot.
The scenery was spectacular. We saw many types of
whales, bears, and more. The previously mentioned
Alaskan towns along with Victoria, British
Columbia were both rustic and beautiful. The
people in these towns along with those on the
cruise ship were wonderful and fun to interact
with. The food on the Zaandam was as good as it
gets! I had some type of seafood for just about
every meal including breakfast. If I was so
inclined, I could have had steak for every meal.
Our cabin was great; we had a large window that
looked out to sea, or port if we were docked. One
has to get used to some things such as that six
inch step up into the bathroom and why do they
mount the toilet at an angle to the back wall!
An interesting note, near the end of our cruise,
I decided to turn on the room TV to catch up on
the World Cup Soccer games. The channel was on
CNN International which is similar but different
than our U.S. CNN in that they focus mostly on
other than U.S. NEWS AND SPORTS. What did I See
at that very moment? There was Mark Riccobono
from NFB and Dr. Hong from Virginia Tech. talking
about the car that blind folks might drive in the
future! This was July 5 or 6 and of course it
happened at the Dallas NFB convention.
On this ship the cabins were easy to find, they
were marked with raised letters and Braille. The
menus were not in Braille but the server always
read the offerings to everyone at each meal. When
we were not participating in activities on the
ship, we took the opportunity to kick back and
read books. Mary brought hardcover books from the
library and I read several books on my Victor
Stream. Cruising is blind friendly, the
destination choices are endless and the prices are great too, so give it a try.
Art Schreiber Receives Yet Another Award
Editor's note: For our new readers, Art is the
second vice president of the NFB Senior Division.
This article is from the NFB newsletter in New Mexico.
This past weekend the New Mexico Broadcasters
Association held its Excellence in Broadcasting
Awards Gala and recognized two leaders in
broadcasting in the state of New Mexico.
The purpose of the NMBA Broadcasters Hall of Fame
is to recognize and memorialize the achievements
of state broadcasters and to promote the art of
broadcasting. This encompasses recognizing and
honoring those persons who have made notable
contributions to the broadcasting industry in the
state of New Mexico. This year, the NMBA inducted
Gene Mortensen and Art Schreiber.
Art Schreiber began his career in broadcasting as
a young news announcer in Ohio. Art Schreiber's
career was launched by covering the announcement
of NASA's first moon mission, the assassination
of President Kennedy, and the race riots of the
early '60's. In 1964, Schreiber spent the summer
crossing the Midwest with the British invasion,
submitting valuable daily reports about the Fab Four.
"After a concert, we'd go back to the hotel," Art
recalled. "I'd barely make it back to the room,
and the phone would ring. It was George or Ringo
calling me over for a rousing game of Monopoly in
their room. They were crazy for that game, and
we'd play till 2 in the morning."
Art Schreiber moved to Albuquerque in 1981 as
General Manager of the Hubbard Broadcasting
stations KOB-AM and FM. Combating increasing
vision problems and enduring ten eye surgeries
Schreiber still brought in power-programming,
such as The Larry King Show to the AM station,
and KOB-FM became one of Arbitron's "Drivetime
Dominators," rating 20th in the nation. Through
it all, Art has maintained his commitment to his
community and his vocation, always bringing a new
level of professionalism to each job he tackled.
Both Gene Mortensen and Art Schreiber were
present during the presentation of their
induction into the New Mexico Broadcasters
Association Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 12, 2010.
Jan Teaches the Blind to Live Independently
by Edie Grossfield
Editor's note: The following article is from the
Rochester Post-Bulletin of August 23, 2010. Jan
is president of the Rochester chapter and a
member of the NFB of Minnesota board of
directors. She is also an excellent worker at our
NFB Senior Division annual meeting.
As a rehabilitation teacher for the blind, Jan
Bailey teaches people who have lost their sight
how to live independently. That includes
everything from how to read and write using
Braille to how to cook breakfast without seeing.
The Rochester resident was a rehabilitation
counselor for the Minnesota State Services for
the Blind for 31 years, retiring in December 2009
to start her own business. Recently, Gov. Tim
Pawlenty reappointed Bailey to the State
Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, which
provides information and makes recommendations to
the State Services for the Blind. This will be
her fifth and final year on the council.
What were the primary issues you encountered working for the state agency?
I had probably anywhere from 50 to 70 customers
in southeastern Minnesota, and they either wanted
to retain their jobs, a few of them, and then
most of them had lost their jobs because of loss
of vision, or partial loss of vision.
How did you help your clients?
What counselors do is help them figure out "what
am I going to do next?" I helped them adjust to
blindness training. I helped them get adaptive
equipment. Maybe they need a little vision
services, or they may need some counseling to
help them adjust to their vision loss.
Is it sometimes difficult to work with people who
are struggling with having lost their sight?
It can be. A lot of a counselor's job is selling
a person on the idea that just because you lost
your sight, or a lot of your sight, doesn't mean
that you have to sit home and do nothing. And
sometimes that's a hard sell. Because people are
upset, and they're used to seeing, and they're
used to doing things visually. It takes them a
while to realize that you can do most of the same
things you always did, but you have to do them in a different way.
Have you always been blind, or did it happen later in life?
Shortly after birth, I was in an incubator and
given too much oxygen and it caused me to have
what they now call retinopathy of prematurity. At
first they didn't know, but a few months later,
my mother noticed I wasn't looking around and
took me to the doctor and they told her. This
happened to about 50,000 babies before a doctor
discovered you have to measure oxygen; you can't just give somebody a big dose.
And your own blindness made you want to help other blind people?
Yes. I've always been blind, and I'm used to it.
But I do know from my own circumstances that I
had good opportunities to get good training, and
that made a difference in my life. So, that's why
I wanted to go into this field, because I wanted
to help other people have those same opportunities.
What is important for the general public to understand about blind people?
Mostly that we're normal people and that we don't
have better hearing and we don't have any ESP or
any of that kind of stuff. You know, a lot of
people kind of think some things like that. But
we are a wide cross section of society, so we're
just like all the other people, but we don't happen to see.
A Diabetic Life of Great & Not So Great Expectations
By Patti Harmon
Editor's note: Patti has written a number of
times for us. This piece has already been
published elsewhere. We are always pleased to see our members in print.
Patricia Ullmann Harmon is a special contributor
to Diabetes News Hound. She was first diagnosed
with Type 1 diabetes in the 1950s and has
successfully overcome some of the disease's
toughest complications, including blindness.
Patty was kind enough to share her story of the
ups and downs of a life lived with diabetes at a
time when medicine and society were much different:
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of
times." It was 1955. I had come out of a
three-day coma, unaware of the serious health
issues I had. The hospital room surprised me. My
grandmother's tears shocked me. Grapefruit juice
was my beverage of choice. I was ten years old and unworried.
Even the diagnosis of juvenile diabetes did not
frighten me. When the doctor suggested my mother
administer insulin shots, I refused. I practiced
on oranges and did it myself from then on. Fear
was the method used to teach me about this
disease. Old people in wheelchairs appeared in
photographs. Doctors, nurses and parents became
stern and pessimistic if I ignored the rules.
In my teens, it became one more source of
controversy between my mother and me. Before
Friday night dances, she wrapped a bottle of Cott
sugar-free orange soda in foil (Diet Coke didn't
exist back then). I buried the glass bottle
before I entered the dances. It was the game of
'hide and secret' and I was mastering it. My
mother wanted everyone to know I had diabetes - I wanted to tell no one.
With my college degree in English from Notre Dame
in Baltimore, I fantasized about a writing career
in New York City. I had grown up in New Jersey,
just across the Hudson, adoring the view of the
river and the skyscrapers. I did require money
for my rent and meals, so I started teaching -
just for a little while to make some money. I
visited the city on the bus to continue my fantasy.
Diabetes did not concern me much. I was a
miracle-believer-until it happened to me. When I
was twenty-five, doctors sent me to Colorado
Springs for experimental laser beam treatments.
Oh, I adored the looks of the Wild West state and
her blue skies above the sturdy mountains. I
still believed in miracles and the goal of
restored vision. There were no miracles. It was the worst of times.
Courage came from some little corner of me. I
knew I needed to leave my parents' home; I needed
work for a reason to live; I longed for independence.
For months, mother and I opened the door of the
house on Maiden Lane to counselor Estelle
Schaefer from the New Jersey Commission for the
Blind. Braille and mobility instructors followed,
delivering a hope for possibilities. The
Commission decided the master's degree was the
goal I needed to achieve. I was already a
teacher; this goal seemed natural. Colorado opened its arms to me.
>From New Jersey, I moved to the University of
Northern Colorado. It was a miracle.
Rehabilitation blossomed. There were social
possibilities. Confidence resurfaced. Cane travel
and Braille improved. It was the best of times.
However, discouragement and disappointment
occurred when I went searching for a job. With
one hundred letters out to schools, rehab centers
and commissions, I believed nothing was
happening. Then, a phone call altered life
forever. The state school for the blind in
Alamogordo, New Mexico, was looking for an
elementary level teacher. A friend helped me
locate Alamogordo on the map. I hopped a
Greyhound bus from Colorado Springs and rode all
night. The superintendent quizzed me about my
diabetes, but hired me anyway. The desert warmed
me for more than 30 years. It probably was the
white sands, the daily sunshine, the turquoise
jewelry, the green and red chili and the New
Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped.
Rehabilitation felt comfortable in my cozy
apartment on New York Avenue. I walked to work; I
prepared meals; I went country dancing. Diabetes
was never a favorite topic, but I didn't hide it as often. Times were good.
During the 1950s, television portrayed perfect
families with perfect children with patient
parents. Nobody spoke of chronic diseases or the
treatments. If they had a young person in a
wheelchair, he or she resolved all issues within
the confines of a 30 minute program. No young
people went for therapy. If they did, they never
discussed it or admitted it - it was considered an embarrassment.
In my home, I grew to believe marriage was
unlikely for me. Motherhood, with juvenile
diabetes, was impossible. Until I married, I believed this to be true.
Perhaps I married him because nobody else had
asked. Perhaps I said yes because it was better
than being alone. Maybe I liked a little
dependence. Someone was telling me I was pretty.
He was reading and cooking. My parents liked him,
but I don't believe they expected me to marry anybody.
In August of 1973, we walked down the sidewalk of
the campus where we worked. Even though I could
not see myself as a bride, I felt beautiful. I
thought everything was perfect. Diabetes was not
on my mind. It was the best of times.
Babies were not on my mind either. until I was
pregnant. Doctors had warned me about pregnancy.
No doctor had recommended a form of birth
control. All they said was 'do not let it happen.
You are a long-term diabetic with complications,
including blindness. No babies!' It was the
worst of times, it was the best of times.
Pregnancy! I miscarried in February 1976. As
expected, the doctor chastised me, holding a
printed list of twenty-six reasons why I should
not have a baby - one for each letter of the
alphabet. I was sad for a long time, losing hope.
My husband promised me a child, and I believed
him. Like I sometimes do today, I screamed out
for normalcy. My sisters and my friends had
babies. By fall, I was pregnant again. Four
doctors in the clinic reminded me of the
warnings. Miscarriage, my health and the baby's
health were discussed. However, I had to believe
in the possibilities of success. I had to be positive.
There were no home blood glucose tests yet, so my
husband helped me do the necessary urine tests.
He came to my building at lunchtime. When the
doctors decided a hospital monitoring was a must,
he visited each day. When I used the hospital
like a hotel, he made me dinners. He spoke of a
faith in the pregnancy when I spoke of fears. For
six weeks, I lived in the hospital. I believed,
but occasionally I cried. I wanted diabetes to
disappear. It was the worst of times.
On April 1, 1977, Jennifer Dawn Harmon entered
this world in Albuquerque. I had been sent there
two days before, where knowledge and equipment
was more sophisticated. Dawn weighed in at 5
pounds, 2 ounces. She screamed her arrival, and
then became silent. In the tiny incubator, she
kicked and yanked. She wanted that tube removed.
So did I. I wanted to hear her yell. I longed to
hold her. The C-section was not difficult on my
diabetic body. In less than a week, we were going
home to Alamogordo. I went home in the car. Our
tiny miracle flew by helicopter.
Sometimes others wonder how I can tolerate the
inability to see my beautiful daughter. I know of
her beauty, without a peek. I watched her grow
up; I shared experiences. The marching band,
choir, vacations, proms and graduations made me
as proud as any sighted mother. No one needed to
know I had Type 1 diabetes and had it since 1955.
The treatment today for diabetics is changing
rapidly. Pregnancy is not spoken of in the same
way and there are fewer complications. Counseling
and medications are open. The games of hide and
secret are played less often. I do not scream out
loud about it, but I talk more often. I ask
myself: What if I had taken the advice of one or
two doctors in the seventies? What if I had not
given birth? How lonely would I have been? This
diabetic would have missed the most important
person in her life. I took a chance, and it
worked. "It was the best of times."
Fifty years following the diagnosis, it remains
tough to be a Type 1 diabetic. Everyone knows
what I should be doing, based upon old Aunt Sara
or Cousin Margaret. Everyone tells me what to eat
and medicines to take. It can still cause me to clam up, for better or worse.
Definite alterations in my behavior have
developed. My only child is no longer a child. I
cannot play "hide and secret" with Jennifer Dawn
any longer. I must reveal all-high and low blood
glucose, high blood pressure, genetic issues, my
sadness and depression, my sin of envy and
resentment I harbor for my former husband.
My daughter must comprehend my need for
psychological counseling. She has been forced to
be a fabulous friend and positive role model for
me. That's the opposite of what I thought
happened in these relationships. She encourages
me to present myself to the world. Poetry and
programs are given to groups and guilds because she has pushed me forward.
I am funnier because of her. She has helped me
make my life an open book, starting with the
search for her on the living room floor and
concluding with the lack of direction she has
inherited from me. My cane is not a magic wand,
and cannot always lead me where I want to go.
However, we are happy in this little corner of
the world by the river and the sea. We are
together now, living with diabetes. It is the best of times.
The Sentence That Freed Me
By Pat Barrett
Editor's Note: Pat Barrett is vice president of
the NFB of Minnesota Metro Chapter and is a
member of the NFB of Minnesota board of directors.
Boise, Idaho, 1973. It was my sophomore year of
high school. I was walking to school the mile
from my house as I did every day. At that time,
though legally blind, I was not using a cane, and
had not heard of the National Federation of the Blind.
My mother was not crazy about me walking to
school. During junior high, I had been bused
across town with kids of other disabilities. I
could not participate in extracurricular
activities, as I wanted. But my brother, Tony,
urged me to go to our neighborhood school, Boise High, to do just that.
Tony and I are close. Since we were young, we
would wrestle together, and watch the same TV
shows like "Get Smart" and "The Naked City". I
had a big crush on Barbara Feldon who played
Agent 99. And, we thought it would be fun to
grow up and run away to the naked city, where we
assumed no one there wore any clothes. Even
though I was blind, Tony would include me in ski
trips with his friends where I would snow tube in
the bowl while they skied. We would go out for
pizza. Our favorites were pepperoni with green
peppers (or green moms, as we called them), and
anchovy. I didn't mind that the anchovies would get stuck in my braces.
On that cloudy and gray spring day, I went to
cross the street. It was a four-way stop. I
looked to the left, but did not look to the
right. I was halfway across, when I could notice
with my limited vision a blue shadow coming from the right.
Pow! I was on the ground. The car could not
have been going more than ten miles an hour. The
driver, whose name was Roberta, stopped her car,
got out, and apologized several times for hitting
me. I assured her I was OK, and continued on to
school. She followed me in her car, and again
stopped to ask me as I was going into school if I
was sure I was all right. I said again that I was.
Nevertheless, she reported the accident to the
office. They reported it to my mother. Three
weeks later, Mom and I reported to traffic court.
This was the first time I had been to court. The
judge looked to be twenty feet above me on his
bench, appearing stern and serious.
"Mr. Barrett," the judge asked in a deep,
intimidating voice. "What kind of car were you driving?"
My mother cleared her throat nervously.
"Your Honor," she explained. "Patrick doesn't drive. He is legally blind."
The judge was taken aback, and was silent for what seemed several minutes.
He then said, "Well, Mr. Barrett, you need to be using a white cane!"
That spring, the itinerant teacher with the Idaho
State School for the Deaf and Blind began my cane
travel training a couple of times a week for an
hour after school. Though the cane was short and
aluminum, and would sometimes fold up in the
middle of the street, I found it gave me a new
freedom and confidence. I did not have to look
down at the ground all the time. That was bad
for my posture. The cane could tell me if I was
running into something like a table or even a cord on the floor.
Doing my paper route, (which my brother had given
me in ninth grade), walking to the store several
blocks away to pick up the newest Carly Simon
album, or still going out with my brother was
easier. One time I remember cruising down Main
Street in his blue VW bug, sun roof open, and us
singing to "Jesus Christ: Superstar" on the
8-track tape player at the top of our lungs.
I took my white cane with me on choir trips to
southeast Idaho and southwest Oregon. I wrestled
my junior and senior year. I went out for track in my senior year.
At one out-of-town track meet, I still remember
the cinder track feel under my feet, I laid my
cane on the grass by where I started. I took the
inner path, and started running the half-mile
flat out. I knew others were passing me, but I
was still determined to do my best in one of the
last meets of the season. I finished in 2
minutes, 48 seconds - a record for me. My team and my coach were proud.
Before graduation, I earned a handsome college
scholarship for my newspaper carrier service for
The Idaho Statesman, holding a 3.6 grade average
and my lettering in sports. That summer, I
attended the Idaho Commission for the Blind,
where I had the liberating opportunity to attend
my first National Federation of the Blind
convention in Chicago. Hundreds of people were
going out to eat, getting to meetings, and
talking about their jobs and raising families
with confidence being blind-all with either a
long, white cane or dog guide. Small kids were
running about with white canes. I knew then that
blindness did not need to be a wall I had to get
around, but that it was simply a part of me, not a problem.
In 1988 and 1989, I had the opportunity to work
in St. Louis and teach blind people how to use
and travel independently with the long, white
cane. I felt good about passing along what
skills I had learned from the skills I had
acquired over the years. In 1993, I attended a
more comprehensive training program at
Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND),
Inc. There for nine months I learned to go
across town and cross streets using the long,
white cane, read braille, use the computer, and cook and barbecue.
Today, I go wherever I want with the cane. My
adult daughter and I go on occasional
daddy-daughter dates. I sometimes take my wife,
who is also blind, out dancing. But if I were to
meet that judge again, I would vigorously shake
his hand, and buy him the most scrumptious steak
dinner in town for giving me the sentence that freed me!
Schreiber's Half Marathon Walk
By Art Schreiber
Have you ever committed to doing something in the
future and then wondered why you ever agreed to
do it? I was talking with my friend, Linda
Blanchard and her husband, Bomi Parakh. They
mentioned the Duke City Marathon and we agreed it
would be fun to try the half marathon walk. Much
later I had, as one of my guests on my radio
program, Dr. Barbara McAneny, President and CEO
of the NM Cancer Center. Barbara mentioned her
sponsorship of the Duke City Marathon and, with
no thought, I said, "I'm going to do the half
marathon walk." When the program was finished I
began to think about what I had committed to and
wondered why? So, I began training. I try to
work out in the gym at least six days per
week. I alternate on a recumbent bike and a
treadmill plus weight training. I began
increasing time on the treadmill and a week prior
to the walk I was doing 4 miles in 62
minutes. That's not enough to prepare for a 13
and one half mile walk. I called my friend, Rick
Walsh, and asked him if he would walk with me. He agreed.
The Sunday of the big event Rick picked me up and
we headed for Civic Plaza. The half marathon walk
began at 8 a.m. The gun went off and we were
off. Within a few blocks we were trailing the
other walkers. I remembered the route since it
was where I used to run, before I tore up my
knees, and when I lived near the famous bike path
along Tingley and northward to the Nature
Center. Only this walk went much farther than I
used to run. It went 13 1/2 miles! I lost all
track of time. My ankles began to ache, as did
my knees, and half way I had a terrible cramp in
my left calf. I was too proud to complain and
too stubborn to quit. We continued and now the
half marathon runners and marathon runners were
heading home while I was praying to turn
around! The turnaround finally came and the
cramp in my leg eased while my ankles and knees didn't seem to hurt as much.
Finally, the finish line was close. I told my
partner, Rick, to go ahead of me because I wanted
to finish last. And I did. The results on the
internet showed 209 walkers finished and Art
Schreiber was 209th. However, I was first in my
age group because I was the only one in my age
group! There was a 73 year old who had finished
and we were the only ones over 69. My time was 5
hours and 57 seconds. Next year my goal is to get under five hours!
Many spectators along the route applauded Rick
and me. I think they felt sorry for us because
we were so far behind. When they applauded I would ask, "Is it still Sunday?"
This and That
Christine Hall, President of the New Mexico
affiliate reports that they held a Possibilities
Fair in Farmington, New Mexico. There were 65
people registered for the event, some of whom
were very new to blindness and vision
loss. Archie Silago and Art Schreiber both gave
motivational keynote speeches during the
luncheon, and from some of the comments, I could
tell that people were touched by the remarks
giving them hope to move on with their lives with
their new disability. There were also two
breakout sessions facilitated by Don and Nancy
Burns which were beneficial as well. Thanks to
everyone who contributed to making the
Possibilities Fair a success and a special thanks
to members of the San Juan Chapter. I recently
spoke to Tami McCray, President of the San Juan
Chapter, who said many of the people who attended
the Possibilities Fair have begun attending
chapter meetings. One of our goals in hosting
this event was to help this chapter with its
membership growth, and it appears that we succeeded.
Editor's note: The following was supposed to be
in the Braille Monitor with the NFBSD recipes,
but it was e-mailed to the wrong person, so here it is, enjoy!
Mushrooms create magic because they create
smiles, even on the face of the cook. Strangers
to the blind frequently ask: how do you cook? I
answer: easily! The truth is that I rarely
measure, or I cook many items, which do not
demand precise measurements. "Throw in a little
more here and a little more there. As a senior,
I smile at my cooking success using the "no measure" technique!
So, here is how I make stuffed mushrooms.
24 mushrooms, thrown in a plastic bag at the market
1/2 stick of butter
1 chopped onion, large in any color
Garlic (I have discovered jars of garlic pieces.)
Cheese, any kind at all
Bread crumbs, any kind at all
Combination of sauces, Oriental and Mexican
Cook garlic, onions, mushroom stems in butter,
stirring. Add breadcrumbs and mix. Delicately
pour in combination of sauces. (In my
refrigerator there are those I forgot I had. At
my daughter's I discover surprise ginger
sauces. Use it all!) Be gentle with spicy
ones. Sprinkle in handfuls of chopped cheese,
permitting it to melt as it is added. The
consistency should be somewhat thick and somewhat thin.
Taste. Ingredients should stick together. If
scrumptious, spoon into mushrooms. Place them in
oven and bake for at least half an hour.
Parmesan may be sprinkled on top.
Chapter on Aging Meets
By Pat Munson
This chapter meets annually at the NFB of
California convention. This year was no
different. We welcomed everyone as our members
and friends progressed through the registration
process chaired by Jack Munson.
Before the meeting got under way, board member,
Mike Couey walked around the room and had
everyone introduced so we would know who was in
the room, and so we could give everyone a big
welcome. The only problem was our missing
treasurer, Jim Willows, but more about him later.
The meeting got under way with the business
meeting. Secretary, Ellen Clegg, read the
minutes, we skipped the treasurer's report and
moved to old business. Our 50-50 drawing was
carried over from last year for we had a dollar
or two which had not been collected. New business
brought the discussion of the NFB Senior Division
newsletter. We want this publication even more
widely circulated. We talked about how we can
take cassette copies to places where older
persons losing vision congregate. Those wanting
to be on the mailing list should contact President, Judy Sanders.
This year we elected three board members. They
are: Joy Stigile, Eric Clegg, and Mike Couey.
Election for officers will be next year. The
holdovers are: Pat Munson, president; Jana
Littrell, vice president; Ellen Clegg, secretary; and Jim Willows treasurer.
One of our members, Pat Weisman told of an event
she hosted at a public gathering to show the
public about blindness throughout the life of
Louis Braille. She said the event was very
successful. We thank her for all her work.
Our National rep. Fred Schroeder told of his
mother's problems dealing with loss of vision in
her last years. When dealing with older persons,
we must remember that vision loss is usually only
one of many health problems these persons face.
We must work with them at their pace and help them as best we can.
The keynote speaker, Brenda Deloach, spoke to us
via modern technology. She lives in Baltimore and
told of her journey into blindness.
While she was working, she noticed she was having
trouble seeing. She got to a wonderful program
for seniors losing vision in Baltimore and
learned the skills she needed to go on with her life.
The full text of her talk will appear in an
upcoming issue of the NFB Senior Division
Newsletter, so make sure you are on the mailing list.
Note, the NFB Senior Division meets at the NFB
convention. The meetings are fun and informative.
If you plan to attend the next NFB convention, be sure to attend the meeting.
Before the meeting adjourned our treasurer
appeared. I think he had been napping. We all
understand. After his report we voted to donate
one-hundred dollars to the NFBC because we must
all strive to forward our work. We also voted to
hold our famous drawing at next year's
convention. Note this year's drawing collected
three-hundred and fifty dollars. The drawing was
at the banquet. Mary Willows pulled the winning
ticket. The winner of one-hundred and seventy five dollars was Mike Couey.
Many of our members have been in the Federation
for decades and have been the recipients of those
open doors to jobs. John and Diana Bates were
employed for many years as was Jim Willows and
me, Pat Munson. Our vice president, Jana Littrell
and secretary, Ellen Clegg are still working. We
know the value of the collective action in NFB
and will continue to assist others to understand its value.
If you missed the meeting this year, please join
us in 2011 and help us do even more to forward our work in NFB.
Your Duck is Dead
A woman brought a very limp duck into a
veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on
the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope
and listened to the bird's chest.
After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and
sadly said, "I'm sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away."
The distressed woman wailed, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead," replied the vet..
"How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean
you haven't done any testing on him or anything.
He might just be in a coma or something."
The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left
the room. He returned a few minutes later with a
black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner
looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind
legs, put his front paws on the examination table
and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then
looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.
The vet patted the dog on the head and took it
out of the room. A few minutes later he returned
with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also
delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot.
The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its
head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.
The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry,
but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck."
The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a
few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman..
The duck's owner, still in shock, took the
bill. "$150!" she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!"
The vet shrugged, "I'm sorry. If you had just
taken my word for it, the bill would have been
$20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it's now $150."
If you're smiling, you must pass it on, give someone else a smile too!
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