Friday, 2 March 2012


Have you ever felt cut off from the rest of society? Most of us have some sort of contact with the events happening around us. Radios, TVs, newspapers, computers, and smart phones help to keep us in touch with the news as well as with our friends.

The situation for me and my dorm mates was much different in 1968. We blind and sight-impaired students in Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind were largely cut off from our families and the music scene. The institution provided us with two black-and-white TVs but radios were a luxury that only a few privileged boys had.

From my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, here's an excerpt that depicts how desperately I craved having my own radio, as well as the kindness of a teacher.


Being without a radio, however, weighed heavily upon my soul. One day after classes ended, I confided my problem to Mr. Lao. "I sure miss having a radio," I began. "Arnold broke mine and it couldn't be repaired. Now my mom and dad won't buy me a new one because they say it costs too much."

Mr. Lao considered the problem. "I have a transistor portable. Would you like to borrow it?"

My heart leapt for joy as I said, "You bet."

"Please be careful with it. I would like you to return it before Easter," he cautioned.

I carried the precious receiver to the dorm the next afternoon, feeling overjoyed that I could listen to my beloved rock music whenever I wanted to. This radio was black, came with a brown leather holder, and was fairly large for a portable. The receiver's sound quality was rich and it pulled in distant stations well. I spent hours standing outside of the dorm during the evenings to hear the weak signals even better.

My lessons in economizing came in handy with respect to the batteries. Mr. Lao's radio was powered by four penlight cells instead of the nine volt type. I discovered that the holder could be removed and a nine volt battery connected. One of those cost less than buying the four penlight cells.


Deliverance from Jericho abounds with vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Please feel free to click on the link to my books or contact me directly for more information about them.

1 comment:

  1. You were fortunate to have a teacher who cared. I hope nobody broke that radio.

    Your post reminded me of a teacher I had in eighth grade who showed me a similar kindness. Mr. Swartz taught shop at Central Junior High in Sheridan, Wyoming, where I was mainstreamed. The other girls and I took his class for two weeks while the boys took home economics. I discovered I wasn't any better at working with wood than I was at cooking and sewing. When Mr. Swartz found out I liked John Denver, Paul McCartney, and Olivia Newton-John, he made me an eight-track tape of songs by those artists I didn't already have. I treasured that tape for years. I wanted to sing one of the John Denver songs, "You Fill Up my Senses," at our wedding, but I didn't think I could pull it off without losing it.


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