Friday, 5 March 2010

Escaping from Jericho, at least for a while.

When I was seven years old, my parents sent me 500 miles from Fort
Saskatchewan , Alberta to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and
Blind in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was only allowed to visit
my beloved home during Christmas, for summer vacation, and three
Easter seasons. One escape from my despondency, provided by the
institution's teachers, was through stories. From my Deliverance
From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School)
memoir, here are
three excerpts which show the impact of well-crafted tales upon my
imagination.

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The frogs began singing their ageless mating song during March.
Since much of the school property remained undeveloped, many small
wild creatures made their homes among the bushes and trees. I loved
to listen to those high-pitched voices at night as I lay in bed.
The sound was hypnotic and soothing. This natural lullaby helped
ease my loneliness. Additionally, it fired my imagination. Mrs.
Rose had read us Fables of the Green Forest by Thornton W.
Burgess, as well as other children's stories. The idea of talking
animals captivated my heart. I wished those frogs could talk to me
and be like the characters in the stories I loved.

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Another point in Mrs. Patrick's favour was that she allowed us to
hear dramatized animal stories on CBC Radio. They were performed by
announcers who played the various creatures. My heart became
captivated as these fictional beasts talked and interacted with
each other. How I wished animals actually could speak. I always
anticipated that part of the class.

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Certain books can seem incredibly uninteresting until one gets into
them. Miss Vize introduced us to The Hobbit by J. R. R.
Tolkien one spring day. When she first started reading the story to
us, I thought I would hate it. I assumed that tales concerning
wizards and dragons were for little boys, but this book was truly
engaging. After the first chapter, the story grew on me. I eagerly
listened to hear how Bilbo Baggins' adventure ended.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of
what life was like in that government-run institution. These range
from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of
mischief. This 196-page paperback, containing 6 black and white
photos, sells for $25.00 through the PayPal-equipped href="http://www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison">Inscribe writers
group website. E-mail
me
for further information or if you don't have PayPal but
still wish to place an order.