goodfolks at charter.net
Mon Oct 26 09:00:17 CDT 2009
Very impressive, Marcus, thanks for sharing.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Marcus Simmons" <marcus.simmons at comcast.net>
To: "NFB of Michigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2009 9:19 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Newbie...
>I also lost my sight late in life. However, it doesn't stop me. My story is
> as follows:
> I am a product of the Detroit School System. I attended the Day School for
> the Deaf and upon completion wanted to go to Cass Technical High School, a
> premier college prep high school. No student has been able to accomplish
> this before; therefore the administration refused to help. It seems some
> better-equipped students tried this in the past and had to drop out. When
> was apparent that Marcus was not going to give up, the administration
> and I was admitted. One of the other reasons I wanted to go to Cass was
> my older brother went to the neighborhood high school and I was tired of
> following in his foot steps.
> This was the first challenge. The Detroit Day School for the Deaf taught
> how to get along in society, not how to be prepared for college. I was in
> with the big boys now. My grades went from A's and B's to D's and E's
> those first semesters. Better study habits were acquired, fast. I
> in 1963 in the automotive curriculum. In 1965,
> I purchased a brand new high performance Mustang convertible. I took
> delivery on my twenty-first birthday. Preliminary research indicates that
> subsequent owner of this vehicle was the Chief of Police, Ike McKinnon.
> Next, in 1966I got a job at Bendix Industrial Controls on the drafting
> board. This prepared me to produce blueprints. For a long time, my fellow
> employees thought that I was making my letters with a lettering template.
> Can you imagine their surprise, when I told them I was doing it all
> I became a FORD loyalist because my uncle put in 46 years at Ford and my
> retired with 43 years of service. A few years later in 1967, I started to
> design my first drag race vehicle.
> When I ventured into racing I had a 1960 Falcon with a powerful VS.-8
> This vehicle was appropriately named "BLUE MAGOO", after the near-sighted
> cartoon character. Not knowing what would happen to my eyesight condition
> the coming years. In 15 meets I only lost twice and both times, to the
> car, A 1965 Mustang called "COBRA II" driven by Bob Corn, then the muscle
> parts program Coordinator for FORD. He later went into partnership with
> Roush at Roush Industries. One year he showed up running the quarter mile
> whole second quicker, so I asked him what he changed. Bob said it was a
> BOSS 302 engine, to be released for 1969.
> My second new car was a 1970 BOSS 302
> Mustang ordered in November of 1969 for $3258.
> This vehicle was originally to be painted Acapulco blue, medium metallic
> Blue, and delete racing strips, but FORD said "no" and I had to pick a
> over the phone without the benefit of actually seeing the pigments. As it
> was latter known, one other person ordered the same color on a 1970 model
> BOSS 302 and it came through. If I had this knowledge, I would have been
> more persistence. Anyhow, I picked bright gold metallic "baby poop brown"
> some call it. I was so excited about taking delivery; I was at the
> dealership less than two hours after it arrived off the transporter one
> afternoon. A bribe of a 6-pack convinced the dealership mechanic to stay
> over time and we both prepped the car for delivery that evening. At the
> first opportunity, the color was switched to blue and the stripes went
> Now my focus was on getting a degree to make myself a better hot rodder,
> I went back to school.
> On my first attempt to enter Wayne State, I was informed that I was not
> college material. My best decision was to complete a junior college and
> reapply. In 1969 I entered Wayne County Community College. After two year
> and a 3.75 GPA, I was allowed to enroll at Wayne State to pursue a degree
> engineering. This also presented itself as a greater challenge. Academic
> probation mend that more effective study habits were required. Attending
> school was a part time proposition at this point, because I still had a
> full-time job at Bendix on the drafting board.
> In 1971 I was laid-off from Bendix and I then found employment with Fords
> Engine Electrical and Engineering buildings Diagnostic Lab to make every
> thing "super". The head of engineering stated Ford would plan my work
> my classes. Apparently, this message didn't filter down to my supervisor.
> After a few years at the Diagnostic Lab, the supervisor approached me. He
> asked me what my goal was. I responded without hesitation, "I want to be
> Diagnostic lab supervisor". Somehow, I don't think that sat very well with
> Then there was the time when my supervisor came to me with lips dripping
> with words of interposition, to inform me that I had to replace an engine,
> which I had serviced the week before. It turned out, that the oil filter
> installed with both the old and new gasket. While the owner was driving
> car over the weekend, the old gasket failed and dumped all of the oil out
> and the engine died. Since I worked on the vehicle, he demanded that I
> replace the engine on my own time. However, I directed him to the work
> order, which showed that I did not do the oil change. It was the
> on the nest shift that completed the task.
> Later, he approached me again. This time the question was, "What is your
> focus? Wayne State or Ford Motor Company? It has to be one or the other"
> not both. Of course, I picked the third option, an educational leave from
> Ford and a full time load at Wayne State. Graduation from Wayne State and
> B.S.M.E. came in 1977 another goal accomplished.
> At This time, the BOSS was a street cruiser with 100 watt headlamps;
> vehicles use 55 watts lamps. Since I had no night vision, this is how I
> adapted to my changing environment.
> In 1972 I rebuilt the engine for more performance. Soon after the rebuild
> broke-in the engine on the complete route 66, start (Chicago) to finish
> Angeles). On the return trip, I soloed from I.A. to Detroit in 33 hours;
> however, I was still late for work by one day.
> After my employment with Ford, I moved to GM Truck and Coach in 1976
> they had a project engineer's position available, whereas, Ford did not.
> This job lasted until 1980, when there was a massive layoff of employees
> with less than 5 years of tenure, at GM and I was furloughed.
> Up Intel this time, I was driving to work on 50% of what I could see, 25%
> what I remember and 25% on lady luck. This was a perfect time to quit.
> I gave up driving because of failing eyesight from retinitis pigmentosa.
> This should have been the end of my story, but this is where it gets
> The next goal was to use the degree and build a car from scratch. I then
> chose a replica 1965 427 Cobra. After one year of research the work
> A frame of two by four steel tubing was welded together. A fiberglass
> was purchased and prepared for the frame and drivetrain. I decided to use
> spare parts motor and transmission from my Boss 302 Mustang for this
> project. To add emphasis, a 600 horsepower Gale Banks twin turbocharger
> induction system was included. Also a MGB front suspension and a Jag rear
> end was assembled because they contained genuine "knock-off wire wheels",
> much like the real Cobra used from 1962 to 1964. The vehicle was designed
> "win" on the show car circuit, not to "compete". In another words, if I
> to the show on Thursday night "move-in and set-up your display night" (the
> shows are open to the public on Friday); I had my first place trophy. The
> other competitors in the class could fight for second, third and fourth
> place. On the circuit I got first place in twenty events and misted the
> only three times. That feat earned me the class championship in
> Sports" in the Great Lakes Division of the International Show Car
> Association (ISCA). My four consecutive first place wins at the
> Detroit Cobo Autorama inspired others to try to duplicate my feat. It got
> bad with so many Cobras in "hand-built sports" class; they had to create a
> special class for Cobras, separately from the rest.
> In 1985, I gained employment with the General Motors Technical Center in
> Warren Michigan. This position was procured strictly on the strength of my
> resume. My first job at Truck and Coach was as a sighted engineer. This
> I came to work as a blind engineer. GM did not know that I was blind,
> however they did find out when I reported to work, white cane and all!
> The position opened up rather unexpectedly, the Federal compliance
> coordinator developed a serious health problem and had to retire
> immediately. This caused some concern with GM because a replacement was
> needed in a hurry. The federal compliance coordinator is responsible for
> assembling all of the documentation so the automaker can sell vehicles to
> the general public. There was no one available, at the time that had the
> specialized knowledge except me. The boss of the department didn't know
> job; the other workers didn't know how to do the job either. So I came in
> the door, tapping with my long white cane.
> Shortly after that feat, a Detroit businessman contacted me to build a
> Chevrolet sedan for the ISCA show car circuit. Construction took 3 years,
> working at night, and this vehicle was also a winner and not a competitor.
> We won every class we entered, finishing 25th in the nation. We traveled
> shows from Chicago to Texas and to London Ontario.
> The next project I was involved in was the Boss Mustang. The Mustang was
> stripped completely down to a bare shell, all rust panels replaced and
> modified for very large rear tires, 14 inch wide. I had decided to return
> drag racing again. The Mustang now sported a 560 horsepower "Ford
> Motorsports crate" motor. Best time to-Date was 10.79 seconds @ 126 Miles
> Per Hour in the standing quarter mile.
> I then decided to open an engineering agency called Simmons BOSS
> where I provide services to the show car, street rodder and drag race
> Presently, I travel to the local schools with one of my vehicles and put
> presentations on topics such as goal setting and careers in the
> Sometimes my presentations come off as unbelievable to the students.
> Animated discussions with the class instructors revealed that they thought
> blind individual could not build a car. With the slogan in mind: A man
> convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Therefore, I have
> changed my presentations a little by including this statement, "In my hand
> is a $50 bill. If someone can ask me a question that I can't answer about
> this vehicle, the money is yours". Since I have had and worked on this
> vehicle for over 38 years, it can't happen. I won't try to change the
> student's minds; I let them reach their own conclusions.
> The Mustang has now been upgraded to a Pro-Streeter. It carries all of the
> required appendages, windshield wipers, turn signals and a full exhaust
> system terminating under the rear valence panel.
> To give back to the community, a group of businessmen, including myself,
> from the Motown Automotive Professionals car club, decided to create a
> 501(C)(3), public charity, to be called Motown Automotive Professionals
> nonprofit (MAPn) and the website can be found at:
> And you can see our video at:
> This is an automotive vocational training facility to provide a route for
> the economically and socially deprived youth as the leave the public
> system, this includes the blind. MAPn will provide them a way to become
> productive member of society. This facility will provide no-tuition
> for the youth to obtain the skills of an Automotive Service Excellence
> nationally certified technician.
> This is our way of improving the aggregate value of the neighborhood. By
> providing a productive outlet for the individuals that don't finish
> we reduce the numbers of young adults that get into trouble.
> Marcus Simmons
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mary Ann Rojek" <brightsmile1953 at comcast.net>
> To: "NFB of Michigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2009 9:13 PM
> Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Newbie...
>> Hi Ray,
>> Thank you for sharing so much with the list. I too agree that you will
>> get a lot of support from it.
>> I've been blind since infancy and reading Braille since around age five.
>> I have an MSW and have been a psychotherapist for more than 20 years and
>> am now working in quality management.
>> Although our state convention starts on November 6th, the bulk of
>> activities are on the 7th and 8th.
>> I think your desire to learn Braille now is a great idea. Another good
>> web site to go to is www.braille.org.
>> Your questions aren't dumb. Feel free to keep asking. I'm using a
>> reader called window-eyes to respond to your email
>> I'm looking forward to hearing more from you. If you get back to
>> in time, please consider coming to convention. .
>> Attendees always learn a lot and the environment is warm, positive and
>> very supportive.
>> Mary Ann Rojek----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Raymond Juliano" <rayj1941 at gmail.com>
>> To: "NFB of Michigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
>> Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2009 6:47 PM
>> Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Newbie...
>>> Hi Terri,
>>> Thank you for replying. We live in Curtis, MI which is in the U.P.. We
>>> about 25 miles west of Newberry which is where I work. I've ordered a
>>> couple of publications re. Braille from the NFB, and the president of
>>> state NFB e-mailed me with some phone numbers to call re. learning
>>> I have not had a chance to call them yet, but I am planning on doing so
>>> I feel a little funny about doing this now since I still have good
>>> my right eye, but that could be subject to change. I just don't want to
>>> wait until the last minute to do this, and your president thought it was
>>> good idea. I do have some slight peripheral neuropathy of my hands, and
>>> more so of my feet, and I play the guitar so I am trying to keep the
>>> fingertips of my left hand toughened up for playing, but the fingertips
>>> my right hand are sensitive to touch. I got the Braille Alphabet card
>>> our library, and I was wondering how difficult it was going to be to get
>>> adept with Braille?
>>> I am legally blind in my left eye, and I just can't imagine being
>>> blind. I am still working full time at our little critical access
>>> in Newberry as the sole nurse anesthetist, and I also am a
>>> which I do part time out of my home. I plan on retiring from anesthesia
>>> less than two years and then doing hypnosis full time and sending my
>>> nursing school. I will have been doing anesthesia for 44 years, so I
>>> to have some retirement years to enjoy with or without my sight.
>>> I would like to attend your up-coming state convention, but I am going
>>> at a week long hypnosis seminar in TN the first week of November so I am
>>> sure if I would be able to make it this year...if not then I will plan
>>> for next year. Your president thought it would be a good idea to attend
>>> Please tell me a little about your lives and how you were able to reply
>>> my e-mail if you don't mind. I will most likely have a lot of dumb
>>> questions to ask, so if you think I am overstepping bounds, please don't
>>> hesitate to tell me.
>>> Thanks again for writing and take care of each other.
>>> Ray Juliano
>>> On Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 4:49 PM, trising <trising at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>>>> Welcome to our list. I am Terri. My husband and I are totally blind
>>>> birth and in our thirties. We live independently in an apartment. I
>>>> would be
>>>> glad to help you with Braille if you live anywhere near us. We are in
>>>> nfbmi-talk mailing list
>>>> nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org
>>>> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for
>>> nfbmi-talk mailing list
>>> nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org
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