[Nfb-announce] senior newsletter

Judy Sanders 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

Spring 2011

Volume twelve Number one

President, Judy Sanders

111 Marquette Ave. South apt. 503

Minneapolis, MN 55401

Telephone: 612-375-1625

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

phone 505-291-3139

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

President's Message

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

President's Message

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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