Friday, 30 December 2011


The festive season is supposed to be a time of unlimited happiness. Everybody knows that, right? The general expectation is that family and friends get together to exchange gifts and eat turkey. The last thing people expect or want is domestic conflict.

The holiday season isn't a joyous time for many in this age of marital contention and no-fault divorce. Christmas is one time of year when incidents of family violence, or the threat of it, peaks. Everybody - according to advertisers - is supposed to have the "perfect Christmas." That pressure sometimes causes quarrels to turn deadly.

In my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I wrote about how we managed to have fun during the holidays in spite of the perpetual threat of family strife. In this excerpt from the book, I related how we coped with this omnipresent danger.


Another source of entertainment for my family was an open reel tape recorder. While I was in Vancouver, Mom purchased it, along with a handful of reels, in order to tape Dad's tirades and play them to a lawyer or whomever did not believe he behaved as violently as she said. The machine was rarely used for its intended purpose but Diane and I thoroughly enjoyed using it. Hearing our voices coming out of the speaker was a sublime experience which kept us entranced for hours.

Diane interviewed me with the recorder one afternoon. First, I related how my day went when I left Jericho for Christmas vacation and how I met Dad at the airport.

"What did you eat for dinner on Friday night?" she asked next.

"Oh, the usual - fish and chips - but for dessert I think we had bananas instead of apples." "Sounds delicious."

"You bet." I said that about the bananas, not the supper.

"Have you been in the indoor swimming pool?" Diane continued.

"Yeah. I've been in there lots of times."

"Can you go ice skating?"


"Too bad."

"Do you play the piano?"

"Well, yeah, but I feel like quitting."

That recording was the only one to survive from the holiday. Because we only had a few reels of tape, we continually reused them.


Deliverance from Jericho is filled with 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. Read more about Deliverance from Jericho here. Please feel free to contact me directly as well.


  1. I can't imagine how rough it must of been during the holidays when you were home. Being a kid is supose to be easy, it makes me sad that you had so much on your shoulders when you were young. Your Mom buying a recorder to tape your Dad for evidence is scary. I feel bad for your Mom, these days she would of gotten the help she needed without having to tape record. Thanks for sharing the happy memory of the recordings, it would be neat if you still had them.

  2. My parents bought one of those reel to reel recorders when I was a kid. . We used it to record our voices and my piano playing. When a blind neighbor down the street became pregnant, my mother used it to record a book on pregnancy. My dad used it to make tapes of records. The problem was that I couldn't figure out how to insert the reels. I was never mechanically inclined. It was a real joy when my parents got me a cassette recorder.


Please leave me a comment on this blog. All reasonable comments will be published.