Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is This Your Town? (Part 2)

This is the second part of Mom's Is This Your Town? paper, written in the early 1970s. This section contained some of the cues as to the paper's age, confirmed when I noticed Mom using her maiden name. For the first part go here.

In this section, Mom talks about the problems of curbs and parking, as well as transportation around town. They are problems that today are virtually no longer exist. One more part is coming. The photo is of Mom in the 1970s pointing to a sign for her new home state of Iowa.

Is This Your Town? (Part 2)

What kind of transportation is available for Mary? Have you ever gotten on a transit bus in a wheelchair, or with crutches? If you are close enough, you can 'wheel' to work. Street curbs are a problem. It is only a few inches but a definite obstacle.

The private car is best. A taxi every day is expensive. You could arrange for a friend to pick you up; but Mary has just moved into town so hasn't made many friends.

It would be best if Mary could buy herself a car. She can have a hand control installed on nearly any kind of car. These can be adjusted to touch depending on the strength of either her right or left hand. The car should have an automatic transmission, with power steering and power brakes, since she will have to do all of the steering with one hand and control her accelerator and brake with the other hand. A car, however, is also a great expense for one who has just gotten her first job. In addition there is the problem of where to park it. More room is needed to get a wheelchair in and out of a car. She doesn't want to travel blocks between parking and her work or home. There is still that inevitable curb. In Mary's town they are eliminating the curb on some downtown streets.

Mary's town has churches of many denominations. By doing some checking she found at least one church in each of the major denominations that is accessible. Nearly all of them are less than ten years old. Most of them are, however, only accessible as far as the immediate church sanctuary. The social hall is usually in the basement or upstairs with no elevator. Often the stairs are too steep for the crutch walker or the elderly. This bars them from receptions and social functions so important in their morale. She found one old church with the foresight to include some accessible features when they remodeled. They installed ramps when possible and also an elevator. From the front it is still the old style church with a flight of stairs. From the back door off the parking lot it is accessible.

A high school in Mary's town, also less than ten years old, has an elevator. One junior high is accessible and ten of the sixteen elementary schools are ground level or near ground level. Should Mary be a teacher this is good news. Most of the restrooms, however, are too small. Schools are important as nearly sixty percent of the handicapped children now attending "special" schools could attend a public school with these barriers removed, saving the taxpayer money.

Mary has some important business to take care of downtown. She is barred from the federal post office immediately as there is a flight of stairs in front. There is hope here, however, since a new federal building is under construction.

Mary will be excused from serving on a jury or testifying in a trial because the court house has thousands of steps. Indeed, she can't even register to vote in an election. What about getting her car license?

The recreation center is in a new building and is adorned with steps. The public library has a ramp in front then a flight of stairs to get to the main floor. Can't even read a good book. The university library is accessible from the front door, however the library officials have seen fit to lock that particular door so the only way in is to have a key. There is also a narrow turnstile inside.

Mary's town has several shopping centers. Downtown is out because of the difficulty with parking. She may have to walk, or wheel, several blocks to her destination. The majority of these stores are on two levels and have very heavy doors.

The mall shopping center on the outskirts of town is better. You need transportation, but there's lots of parking so you can get close to the door. The main entrance has a level curb and wide doors. Maneuvering is a bit tricky in some of the store aisles, and merchandise is sometimes piled out of reach. The grocery stores have wide aisles and the carry-out boys load your car. One store has a couple of wider parking spaces reserved for wheelchairs.

Go to Is This Your Town? (Part 3)

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