David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Parents, People with Handicaps

Parents

• Poet Wanda Coleman is African-American. In 1931, her father came to California after a young black man was lynched in Little Rock, Arkansas, where her father then lived. He simply offered some people driving through in a car that bore California license plates $15 to take him to California. Her mother worked as a housemaid and cleaned the home of Ronald Reagan when he and Jane Wyman were married. She asked him for a raise, he wouldn’t give it to her, and so she quit. Wanda’s parents then met in a church in California.Her father helped her to get an education. Whenever she went to her library, for some reason she was allowed to check out only books for girls, and she wanted to read books for boys. Therefore, she would go to the library with her father, she would pick out the books she wanted to read, and he would check them out for her.

• In the summer of 1920, the parents of Dick King-Smith, the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig, met. Dick’s father was on crutches, the result of an injury in World War II, and he noticed a pretty, 18-year-old woman. Shortly afterward, she was confined to her room with a cold. He found out where she was staying, and he went there and stood in the sand of the beach. He waited until she appeared at a window, and then he used a crutch to write in the sand, “GET WELL SOON.”

People with Handicaps

• Samuel Long’s parents can hear, but he is deaf. His parents taught him sign language in addition to all the other things that parents teach their children, including colors. When he was young, his mother would ask him in sign language what color something was. If he answered correctly, she would sign to him, “Good boy, Sam.” One day, when the Long family was painting the house, Sam disappeared for a short time. When he returned, he was completely naked, except for a coating of green paint. He signed to his mother, “What color, Mom?” She signed back, “Green.” He replied in sign language, “Good girl, Mom.” He wanted to be like the other kids, so he got headphones, and he pretended that he could listen to music in the headphones. One day, he and his mother were in a store; he was wearing his headphones, and his mother was speaking to him in sign language. The saleslady assumed that his mother must be the deaf one, so she began writing a note to her. After all, what would a deaf kid be doing with headphones?

• Philadelphia Phillie Dick Sisler stuttered, and he took a lot of good-natured ribbing from opposing players. Since he had been a Navy chief petty officer, players often asked him, “Whatta ya say, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Chief?” Mr. Sisler always replied, “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fine, thanks.” One day, a lost stranger asked for directions, saying, “Hey, bu-bu-bu-bu-buddy, where’s fo-fo-fo-fo-forty-second street?” Mr. Sisler says, “I was af-af-af-af-afraid to answer.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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