This is the sixth of these process logs from Mom's folder. They're sort of logs that document her research for her spring 1994 paper From Dependence to Independence. Instead of a log, though, these are more like mini-papers that are interesting on their own.
In this one, Mom gives a possible opening for her paper, about getting around in school and getting her first set of braces. Near the end, she also talks about why she wanted to write.
The photo is of Mom with her braces in front of her house about 1950.
It is amazing to me how we as a nation can treat individuals in such a manner. It doesn't matter if they are black, white, red, poor or just look different: We need to be treated with respect. The same thing goes for the disabled individual. We are all different and all deserve a break. Now that I'm getting down to business and trying to pull all of this together so that it makes some kind of sense. I'm not quite sure how to begin. I know the beginning is the most important, as that is what keeps you reading.
Maybe a little story or anecdote to get the interest. Now should it be a personal story or not. I could dream up a number of personal stories of when I was young to break the ice. Maybe the story could be when I first went to school, something like this.
When I was a little girl, I was unable to walk. I got around the house by crawling or in a small walker. Many times my brothers or sisters would carry me. Now I was old enough to go to school. I couldn't crawl in school. Yet, I wanted to go to school. The year was 1949. No one thought much about teaching kids like me. I was already bright as we played "school" a lot and my sisters showed me the letters. My mother just decided to send me to school. My brother carried me every day to the first grade. Boy, did I feel important. I got along fine in school.
In the middle of the first year, however, mom heard of this new young doctor in the nearby town that was doing some wonderful things with these disabled kids. We were in the middle of the polio epidemic. This was a dreaded disease that struck many children and adults also. Many died and many more were crippled for life. Mine was a birth defect, but everyone assumed that I had polio, as there were so many. The new young doctor was responding to the need, I guess, that was really created by this epidemic. He also cared very deeply for his patients, many of them quite small. Because of casts put on both legs and bracing I had to miss a good deal of school the first year. I still managed to keep up and by the beginning of second grade, I was able to walk with the aid of full-length braces and crutches. They were ugly, but they worked. Oh how I longed to wear pretty shoes. But I was happy with at least some shoes and I was able to walk.
The biggest problem though was that the building was so difficult to get into. There was no way that I could handle the stairs on my own. Many times the stairs were really frightening to me. I would have loved to have some of the schools here in Iowa City. Near as I can find out, my hometown school still has all the steps.
Getting back to my mother, who never had any doubt that I could learn, assumed all along that I would go to school. I give her a lot of credit for that. She could have sheltered me from the difficult world. Not that it would have done any good as you can't be sheltered. The world is there and we must learn to live in it, and let others live in it too, and as easily as possible.
My brothers and sisters too had a large role in this. They never treated me different and took me along with them so I could really see how the world was. They made me feel important. The teachers, too, made me feel good. Since this was a small school, the class was very close. We only had about 18 kids in our grade. This number increased a little in high school. There were always two grades in our rooms. For example, first and second grade was in the same room. So every other year my sister was in my room with me. It always gave me a little confidence knowing that she was there.
This is too long for an intro. Guess I will have to shorten it somehow. Once I get started, I know that I can make it sound better. I must get my thoughts organized. I had an appointment with this fellow at the vets office Friday, but it had to be postponed because of the blizzard. We had a bad one this past week. I don't like those either. They always inhibit me from getting around. Walking is difficult, even in-building as everyone has wet feet, and makes the hard tile floors very difficult to talk on. Maybe I'm just getting old.
I wish I would have started these classes years ago. I thought about it but just never followed through. Seems like I lacked some self-confidence for myself. It has taken a long time, but I think I gained a lot of self-confidence. I seem to have the respect of the people at work. I would like to improve my present station in life by doing something good. I want to write about many of the things I mentioned above. Maybe essays or compositions, or even some short true stories about myself and how a handicapped child gets along in the world, Maybe it would help someone.
Boy did I get off track here. Hope this all makes sense. Then I hope I can make it make sense in the research paper. I have got to work on the outline. That will make sense to me.
Connie, Feb. 26, 1994