Legends of the Deaf Community: B. Ennis, Sonnenstrahl, Gannon, Tom Fields JUL 02 1981

Web Video Text Tracks Format (WebVTT)


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Jack Gannon/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): in public and after that 20, 29 and so on, a lot of people learned how to fly.

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In South Dakota, there was a deaf lady who took flying lessons. And after about 13 hours of practice, she uh, solo'd. And got her license to fly.

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And her father gave her a biplane with the two double wings, and she would tour around the country, fairs, to uh, demonstrating flying, you know, upside-down all that, and offer rides to people who were brave enough to go up.

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And she would charge children fifty cents and adults a dollar to fly. She called her plane, uh Pard, P-A-R-D, in honor of her father because her father was her "pardner."

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And she joined a women's flying club, that had another member named Amelia Earhart.

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Jo Radner: Thank you, that's interesting! [[applause]]

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Jack Gannon/Shirley Schultz (interpreter: The deaf—the deaf woman's name was uh, Nellie Willheit? Nellie Willheit. She's still living today. And I think she uh, was the first woman in South Dakota to learn to fly.

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And I think she was the first deaf person in the world, uh, she got her license in 1928.

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Jo Radner: Thank you. Are there any other questions from the audience now at this point?

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Remember you can raise your hand and holler at any time. Um, we started out this workshop talking about the creativity in the deaf community, inventiveness. Now, the deaf community has had a number of famous artists, um, Jack Gannon's book has a whole chapter on them, well-illustrated.

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And Debbie Sonnenstrahl has one of my favorite stories about an artist who was also very inventive in a lot of other ways. I wonder if you would tell about him?

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): Sure. Since I love art, naturally one of my favorite stories involves a deaf artist.

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His name was Cadwallader Washburn. He was, uh, not born deaf, but he lost his hearing at the age of five. Five years old.

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Once he lost his hearing at five, he never spoke again. Turned his voice off. And used sign language for the rest of his life.

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He was born in Maine, but he moved to Minnesota when he was very young. And he went to Gallaudet College too.

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It never failed to amaze me how his mind worked. In fact, he did so uh wonderfully in, during his college days, that when he gave his graduation speech, to an audience of all, uh, people from—edu—different education areas.

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Even the superintendent of the D.C. school system was in this audience. And he heard there, uh, his speech, guess what the name of his speech was?

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I can't give the exact name because it was written in, uh, Latin, medical word, but in everyday language it was called "The Working Mind of a Spider."

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And uh, it went over so well, that after his speech, the superintendent of the D.C. school system came to him and asked for his permission, uh, to use his speech, to publish his speech in a book for fifth and sixth grade, uh, fifth and sixth graders for the public school system in D.C.

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But that's not the end of the story. He went on to become a famous artist, and he became an etcher, you know what an etcher is? Uh, drawing on metal, block of, uh, copper, and so on?

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Engraving and then painting it with ink and then making many prints of that. And his prints are in museums all over the country. Uh, British Museum, the Met, here in Washington D.C. and all over the world.

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But before he could become, uh, get recognition as an artist, he had to earn his bread, earn his trade, so, uh, guess what he became?

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): He became a newspaper reporter. Imagine that. He refused to talk, but he refused to let his deafness stop him.

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And he traveled all over the world and one day he found himself in Mexico.

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During that time there was the Spanish Civil War going on. It was bombing, well, fighting, shooting, all going around him.

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Washburn thought a minute. He felt that he should interview the dictator or president of Mexico at that time and find out what were his dreams? What did he want for his people, for his country?

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So Washburn found out where his headquarters were, went there, and went into the room, and it was just filled, packed with people.

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Naturally, Washburn was not the only reporter who wanted to see him, everyone wanted to see him.

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So he looked around, all the people ahead of him, and he knew that it was worthless waiting. So, took a look and left the room. He went out.

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You think he gave up? No way. He went to a store and guess what he bought?

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He bought himself a black coat with long tails and a long, tall, black hat. Top hat. And white gloves. And a black cane, with a white top.

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And the last thing he bought himself was a white pair of spats. You know what spats are? The covering, I didn’t know what that was myself, I had to look it up, covers on the shoe.

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So, anyways, he went back to the headquarters, entered the room, and everyone’s eyes riveted on him.

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): Looked at him up and down, who is that man? Who is that distinguished man and everyone would say, "Well, I don't know." Nobody seemed to know.

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And, er, the receptionist looked up and before she could ask him any questions she ran to the, uh, president's private office and told him, "There's someone out there. I don't know who it is but he looks very important. So what should I do with him?"

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And the president said really, really? Okay, uh, give him 5 minutes. Come, tell him to come in." The lady said, "alright Mr. President," and she went out and Washburn did not have to say one word, not one word.

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The woman came up to him and said "You may come in." Washburn just nodded, bowed very slightly and walked into the office, met the President eye to eye.

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Both took a look at each other. The men sized each other up and the President said have a seat. Washburn nodded, sat down.

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Opened his jacket and took out his faithful paper and pencil and he wrote his questions in such fluent Spanish that the President was impressed.

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"How did you? How, why are you writing?" And Washburn had to confess his deafness. "You're deaf but you write better Spanish than my own people?" "Thank you," he said.

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Well gracias, the Spanish word for thank you anyway. And the interview took place for one hour and the President told him all of his dreams and hopes for his country and at the end they shook hands and Washburn left and quickly sent that article interview to a Chicago newspaper.

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At that time he was looking, working for a Chicago newspaper and that was the biggest scoop of the year and three weeks later that President, the dictator was killed.

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): Thank you.

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Jo Radner: We're talking about legends in the deaf community for those of you who've just come in. And for those of you who are here, do you have any questions you'd like to ask? The floor is open for questions. Or for stories. Questions? Yes.

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Audience Member: How many years did it take for you to write the book on deaf heritage?

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Jack Gannon: It took about four years [[inaudible]]

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Shirley Schultz: One about Deaf Smith? [[background talking]]

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William Ennis/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): Okay. A woman, we're picking on character well really, this, he was a deaf man who lived in Texas. I don't want to go through the whole history, it might be boring but I'm trying to make it look exciting.

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I remember when I was a little kid growing up in Texas and at the residential school, teacher took us to Texas legislator, legislature, the Senate. It's very nice, almost the same design as our capital. United States capital. And went into Senate's office and saw Sam Houston.

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One leg in a cast under a huge oak tree. And all the soldiers assistants were watching Santa Ana who defeated, who was the defeated Mexican General who lost the Mex—the war against Texas in the independence.

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We saw one man in the picture in the tree listening and he did it like that. He was acting like that and of course, we really identify ourselves as there's a deaf man in that picture and his name we found was Deaf Smith and I understand there is a county in Texas named after him.

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We asked what his specialty was and he was assistant to the Captain and also Chief Scout. Chief Scout with a hearing impairment? You know he'd have to know exactly where the places were. Where the enemies were. So that was our hero in Texas. [[CLAPPING]] Thank you.

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William Ennis/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): Did you know, also that the five dollar bill has his picture on it?Five dollar bill? Well the Republic of Texas five dollar bill has his picture on it. The only deaf person I know of who has his picture on currency.

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Jo Radner: Yes.

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William Ennis/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): My friends, I would like to add another laurel to Texas brags. [[LAUGHTER]]

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You'll find in the Guinness Book of World Records, a deaf man named LeRoy Columbo who saved almost 1000 lives as a life guard in Galveston, Texas. The state legislature voted to have a minute of quiet respect for him.

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Columbo is his name, LeRoy. Also you're talking about spats. At the school for the deaf in New York City, the first thing I noticed about spats was a coach of a deaf, a deaf coach, he went to the games wearing spats with a tie and a jacket.

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He would tell—be directing his team. Nowadays coaches take them off, not only that. Ties off and a lot rougher with their voice. [[CLAPPING]]

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Jo Radner: Thank you for sharing that. I wish that we could go on and on and on but we can't because we have another program coming into this tent. So if you want to discuss these things with our participants, please stay around and do that after the program.

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We will be having a sign language class, introductory sign language class, in this tent right after this and then after that we'll have another discussion workshop with these people. Lets thank them very much. [[CLAPPING]]

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Jack Gannon/Shirley Schultz (interpreter): Sandy Ewan? Ewan. His father and Doc who we talked about yesterday and another deaf man, photographer went up to the Washington monument in 1930s.

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On the outside, not on the inside. At that time they were cleaning it. His father was, grandfather was foreman, took them up scaffold to the top.

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Jo Radner : And if you want even more of that and a picture, sorry.

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Jo Radner: Excuses us. If you would like to know even more about that and see a picture of that event, you can go over to our craft sales tent and we may have a few copies of Jack's book left. You'll find the picture, I don't remember the page.

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Okay, I'd like to make a couple of announcements. For our deaf visitors, we'd love to have you share your stories with us. If you could go over to our other tent we have a video tape crew from Gallaudet College.

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They're working to make a collection of stories by deaf people; life stories, jokes, anecdotes for the Gallaudet archives and would be glad to interview you over there at any time.

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Also, we will be having a volunteer interpreter for the deaf-blind at this festival, during the next three days if you have any friends who would like to take advantage of that service.

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So please if you have a deaf-blind friend, tell me, tell one of our staff and well get that interpreter here for them. Okay thank you all very much.

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Jo Radner: Introduce your sign language teacher today, her name is Elaine Aiello and she's a professional teacher of sign language in the Washington area. She's interpreting for me now and she's also reading my lips

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Jo Radner: Not gonna use her voice yet. At the beginning of the class she's gonna be quiet and that's so that you will get used to using your eyes because your eyes are very, very important if you're going to get used to using sign language.

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After her introduction she's going to use her voice and explain a little bit about American Sign Language and what it's like and then after that you're going to get involved and she's going to teach you a few warm up exercises and non verbal communication

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and after that she'll teach you some basic signs. So that by- [[BACKGROUND TALKING]]

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Um, so that by the time you leave here you'll have enough sign language so that you can communicate a little bit, you can begin to communicate with some of our participants here. With deaf people you might meet on the job or in the bus or wherever you might be.

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Afterwards we'll hand out some information about sign language classes in the area. And some calendars that were donated to us by the National Association of the Deaf. That have on every page a lot of history of the deaf in America and I think you'll enjoy that.

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Okay, I'm going to leave it to Elaine now. Watch her carefully, okay? [[BACKGROUND NOISE]]

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Jo Radner: —workshop in the festival of American Folk Life, you're in the deaf community area if you hadn't guessed from the flying fingers and our topic this afternoon in our last workshop of the day is going to be, "being deaf in a hearing world."

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Our participants are going to share some stories with you, and some of their experiences and we would love to have members of the audience also share experiences and stories if they're deaf or ask questions if they're hearing. So wide open panel for everybody to enjoy.

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I'm going to begin asking each of our participants to introduce himself. Tell you a little bit about where he's from, what his job is when he's not at the Folklife Festival. And we have a very special guest today whose agreed to join us also. She'll introduce herself too. Lets begin with Jack Gannon

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Jo Radner: Would you introduce yourself, tell your name?

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Jack Gannon/John Ennis (interpreter): My name is Jack Gannon. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland. I work at Gallaudet College. I am the Director of the Alumni and Public Relations at Gallaudet College.

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William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): My name is Bill Ennis. I live in Greenbelt, Maryland. I work right over there at the USDA, working as a programmer.

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Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): My name is Nathie Couthen. I live in Riverdale, Maryland. I work at Kindle School as a teacher, teacher of home economics.

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/John Ennis (interpreter): Hi, my name is Debbie Sonnenstrahl and I live near here. Can't keep me away from the Smithsonian and I work for Gallaudet College as a director of fine arts in education.

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Jo Radner: Thank you very much. I wonder if we could start things off today by sharing some stories about what it's like to grow up deaf. Some experiences from your childhood that you might like to share with other people.

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Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): I remember when the last time I could hear was about 4 and a half or 5. Somewhere in that area. I was sitting watching TV with my brother and we were teasing each other, pushing each other around and then all of a sudden, couldn't hear.

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The next thing I remember was I was in the hospital, in the bed, woke up from a long deep coma and I looked around and there was a mirror all down one wall and there were chairs, there was a chair over there. The rest of it there wasn't anything there.

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And suddenly I, very patiently, I was suffering I had to go to the bathroom what was I going to do so I hollered

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Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): and I hollered some more. I thought, hmm nothings coming out so I screamed, screamed again and finally a woman came walking in and I looked at her and I how did, I don't know her. I couldn't hear myself. I wondered if my voice was working.

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She said "what can I do for you?" I said— The next thing I remember was in my parents' bed and I was asleep again

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and I woke up and I saw, a big banner saying "we love you Nathie welcome home," and my brother was there, my sister, all these different aunt, uncles, cousins, family were all around.

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Everybody was talking, laughing and I was looking at all of 'em and I began to cry, because I realized I was deaf. It wasn't that my voice was broke.

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Jo Radner: Thank you. Jack, you also became deaf after you'd lived for a little while. Could you tell us what that was like?

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Jack Gannon/John Ennis (interpreter): Yes I was eight, yes. I became deaf when I was eight years old. I had spinal meningitis. I didn't know it until much later.

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As I recall I went home after staying in the hospital and one day the ice cream man passed and I asked my mother if I could go buy some ice—ice cream.

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Sure she gave me some money, I went out and ordered and got what I wanted and I said, "hey Mom the ice cream man talked to me and I didn't hear him." "Jack don't you remember, you're deaf!" and I had not remembered that.

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William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): Alright, thank you. I don't really remember anything about being born, I was born deaf. My parents didn't know anything about deafness really. A friend told them I think that 'I feel pretty sure that boy's deaf.'

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My parents were resistant, doubted that. I think I must have been around two, two and a half and they thought I was just ignoring them that I didn't pay attention to the parents. You know how that's a problem with children. They did find out sure enough I was deaf.

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Went to a school for the deaf when I was three. At that time, the late 1940's and people had not, thinking about sending people to school at that early of an age but I was sent there early.

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I had to stay at a er, live in a dormitory at school, when I come home my parents come in and I could not really remember or recognize them, I had stayed so long at the school.

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William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): but finally my parents decided to move to Austin, Texas, live in the same town where I could go to the residential school, and maybe it was only just a few blocks, I can't really remember because it was very close.

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When I go to school I thought oh my parents are gonna do this to me again. I don't wanna go to school and live in the dorm with all those boys, all lined up in those beds in a row. Row after row, I could remember that.

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And my mom said "no, no, no, that's not, you're gonna come up home again this afternoon after school."

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I went up to the long stairways, I remember kicking and fighting, when I got to the door I put both feet on each side. I didn't want to go in. My mother finally got me in.

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After that I realized that I just live right off campus I can just walk right back and forth as like a day student. I was a day student until I was about 15. I guess that's enough for that story I'll tell you the rest of my life, huh?

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Jo Radner: Good lives. Debbie, would you like to share the story about, the day you walked to school by yourself? That's my favorite.

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/John Ennis (interpreter): Ahh I was gonna say something else.
Jo Radner: Oh, okay go ahead. Later on.

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/John Ennis (interpreter): Well I'll tell that later okay? Right thank you um, I want to share this story with you.

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I was born deaf and came from a large hearing family. My family consisted of my mom, my dad, my grandmother, my grandfather, my great aunt and my brother and all of them were hearing. I was the only deaf member.

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My father didn't know how to cope with my deafness. He was a baby doctor himself, he was a pediatrician but yet he still didn't know how to cope with me. And, he wrote a letter to, John Tracy Clinic which advocated oralism,

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and they told him to talk, talk, talk to the child. Which all the family did and I grew up without knowing one word of signs and I asked, started my schooling education at oral school for the deaf and then went to a public school in seventh grade, graduated there at twelfth grade.

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Now I want to tell you my experiences how I entered into the deaf world. It's really a different experience, like the difference between day and night, I remember it very well.

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My girlfriend from an oral school, a day program said, "Debbie you're deaf, you belong to the deaf world. I'm gonna show you where you really belong." And she took me to a deaf, a fair and the first time saw all these hands flying, the flying fingers. I wasn't used to it.

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And then my parents said "I think it would be a good idea for us to visit Gallaudet College, it's a college for deaf students." I said "Gallaudet, Gallaudet deaf college, me? No way, I'm going to a hearing girls college, Goucher in Baltimore."

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I remember I'd taken the test, I was ready for that college but my parents, they really love me and sometimes I think they are protective but they love me and wanted me to be happy

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Debbie Sonnenstrahl/John Ennis (interpreter): to be able to stand on my own two feet. I did well in the hearing school but still my social life was so-so.

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Alright, now, I went to Gallaudet College for an interview and the first man I met there was Dr. Phillips, you know our Dean of Students there at that time.

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He told me this story, only three years ago. I graduated from Gallaudet in 1958, now imagine this, he told me this story that three years ago he said to me "Debby I remember your father very well."

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I said "what you remember my father after so many years, and what's more my fathers been dead since 1962, you remember my father? How? Why? You meet so many parents."

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He said "with you, it was a different case because over the many years as a Dean I had to work on the hearing parents, to allow their deaf child to go into Gallaudet College but with me he had to work on the child, on me, to make me come to the deaf college."

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I said "wow that's really a reverse for him." You know what happened to me? I entered to Gallaudet College and I had to take two aspirins every night, two aspirins every night, do you know why?

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I wasn't used to seeing all those hands, flying fingers every night but now it's part of me. [[CLAPPING]]

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Jo Radner: Thank you. Nathie, do you have one?

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Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): I remember the time when my mother took me to the deaf school in Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. After mother had found out that I was actually deaf, she asked around "where's a deaf school?" and she took me over to the Pittsburgh school

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Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): I entered the school with and these big wide columns and WSPD's, Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, VNB I remember all that and I thought, "Oh impressive."

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I went in and Doctor Craig, our superintendent, he looked just like Hitler the way his hair was fixed. I thought "Oh no." I was a little boy, he's a big guy, I mean little girl and he was real big guy and mother kept encouraging me in and I kept kind of backing up and, uh,

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and he told my mother go ahead and take me over to the girls dorm and let me play in the play room. I went with my mother over there, saw the girls waving everywhere and I couldn't quite figure all that out. My mother, I was hanging on to her.

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My mother kept trying to encourage me along until one girl had a ball said "here you wanna play? Come here." Held the ball out and I looked and my mother says "yeah, go on, go on." Oh me a ball? Bounced the ball, said okay, so I tiptoed over.

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I got the ball and I started bouncing it playing with it bouncing it. Mamma had disappeared, was gone, my mother had left me here all alone with all these strange hand waving animals but after a while I became good friends with one of the girls,

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and then later, finally I learned how to sign. You remember this was in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh school did not have very many blacks there. I was like the only one of four black little children that I remember. I don't know about the big ones, there were four little ones of us.

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And one of the new girls came over and said, "look you're dirty, you're dirty, you never bathe." I said "I bathe, I bathe every day." "No look you're dirty look at you." I said "I bathe every day." "No you're dirty."

00:33:16.000 --> 00:33:29.000
So then she pulled me to the bathroom, no, no, no, took me into the restroom, got the paper towel down and then Ajax, [[LAUGHS]]

00:33:29.000 --> 00:33:45.000
got some water, put the Ajax on and starting scrubbing. I said oh no. She scrubbed and scrubbed and then she washed water on it and looked and said "ooh it's not dirty. Ohh not dirty." I said "No, I told ya, I told ya I'm not dirty."

00:33:45.000 --> 00:33:59.060
She said alright we're friends and took me on. And to this day we'll still talk about that experience. [[LAUGHS]] [[CLAPPING]] Children are mean. [[LAUGHING]]

00:34:04.000 --> 00:34:17.000
William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): I guess as most of you know, there's three reasons why people become deaf. Illness, accident and sometimes hereditary.

00:34:17.000 --> 00:34:38.000
Maybe you'd be interested to know that some of the causes of deafness listed in old annuals of school reports a long time ago. First you must remember a long time ago, you did not have many doctors, so often the parents themselves determined how the child became deaf.

00:34:38.000 --> 00:34:49.000
And when they took the child to the school they would say, the administrator would put down that must be it. Some are real strange, let me share some of them with you.

00:34:49.000 --> 00:35:08.000
Some of the causes that I've found in these old annual reports were, black tongue caused the deafness, sore eyes, sprains, didn't say where. Maybe they sprained an ankle and became deaf. I don't know.

00:35:08.000 --> 00:35:33.000
Cold water, fright, thunder. Thunder it's funny but I've found real cases of a deaf man who really did become deaf from thunder. He was standing on the family porch and lightning came down and went out like she did and after a long coma found out he was deaf.

00:35:33.000 --> 00:35:49.000
But this is the best of all. Mother's conduct, [LAUGHTER] mother's conduct, behavior. Others swallowing tobacco causes deafness.

00:35:49.000 --> 00:36:05.000
Where my parents caught me smoking they said I would never grow and sure enough I was a runt in my class. And I thought, boy my mum was right, then later I finally begin to grow.

00:36:05.000 --> 00:36:20.000
Sand, that's a story in itself. The story is about parents talking about a little boy, Johnny. They said, that Johnny, every time we tell him something it goes in one ear out the other.

00:36:20.000 --> 00:36:28.000
The parents you know what they were, as parents you know what they're talking about I'm sure, but anyway Johnny's brother and sister overheard that.

00:36:28.000 --> 00:36:42.000
Looked at each other, said "really?" So when their parents, they said "hey Johnny come on, come here," and they took Johnny down to the creek, found some very fine sand. Said "come here Johnny put your head down."

00:36:42.000 --> 00:36:51.550
Johnny put his head down and started pouring the sand and they looked and nothing came, was coming through, their parents must have lied they thought huh

00:36:55.000 --> 00:37:08.000
William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): Okay, okay since my wife Glenda's here in the audience and she told me that I need to add something, that's Glenda right there. [[LAUGHS]]

00:37:08.000 --> 00:37:17.000
and she said lets see, I remember when, what Mom said when I was sent to the school, Oklahoma School for the Deaf when I was three.

00:37:17.000 --> 00:37:31.000
Mother had a very hard time to send, to let me go you know because I was so young at such a young age to send me to school. The superintendent used this example said, "come here" to my Mom and looked through the window.

00:37:31.000 --> 00:37:47.000
A very beautiful girl, blonde hair, was 19 years old and was sitting under a tree and couldn't read or write just because her Mom loved her too much. So my Mom did send me.

00:37:47.000 --> 00:38:10.000
I also have a brother here in the audience who's now interpreting right there. That's John. [[BACKGROUND TALKING INAUDIBLE]] You brought your own audience did ya Jack says, yes I've got a daughter here Bonnie-Joe right there. My son's somewhere running around. My cousins they couldn't make it today, but anyway. [[LAUGHTER]]

00:38:10.000 --> 00:38:36.000
Um, lets see what I was going to tell you. Talking about John, I remember we and were only two year difference in age and a lady's asking there are you the younger, no I'm the older thank God because, just because when I wanted to do something like little league baseball, I knew that I happened to be probably one of the best baseball players on the block I thought.

00:38:36.000 --> 00:38:46.000
All these kids around but when we put it into organized sports I thought, oh boy, I had to be under a coach and all the system and practice and so forth.

00:38:46.000 --> 00:38:58.000
I thought well, I would make my brother go, come along. He wasn't interested in going to play baseball, he didn't want to go over there. He didn't want to! I started twisting his arm. He didn't go, I was gonna beat you up!

00:38:58.000 --> 00:39:06.000
So I made him go with me, finally my Mom said okay, and she took us both down to the tryouts.

00:39:06.000 --> 00:39:16.630
When I saw the kids, oh there was a lot of them there, I saw one or two, oh yeah there's a couple of them from my neighborhood, my little brother's really disgusted he's got us waiting for him to get out of the car and all of a sudden

00:39:19.000 --> 00:39:29.000
William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): All that time I decided, I don't wanna play baseball. I uh, I decided to use an excuse. I said I'm deaf mom and

00:39:29.000 --> 00:39:35.000
I don't know if I can get along with them out there. I'm not so sure if I can play that well. Changed my mind, I wanna go home.

00:39:35.000 --> 00:39:42.000
Mom said "what? Wait a minute get out you're gonna go play baseball with your brother get out." No, no. "Your brother can sign."

00:39:42.000 --> 00:39:54.000
"Yeah I know that, I know he can sign," but well my mother decided to just put her foot up and push me out of the car and I fell out of the car and I said—and then she took off.

00:39:54.000 --> 00:40:03.000
I said what? And I saw my brother stand there looking at me. [[AUDIENCE LAUGHING]] And I said alright, I have to do something about this, come on lets go.

00:40:03.000 --> 00:40:11.000
So we started walking over and really thank god we, we did have a good time. We made the team and had a fantastic time there playing little league.

00:40:11.000 --> 00:40:18.000

00:40:18.000 --> 00:40:28.000
Jo Radner: Well maybe it's a good time to start asking our audience if they have questions or experiences they wanna share. Yes.

00:40:28.000 --> 00:40:33.000

00:40:33.000 --> 00:40:49.000
Audience Member: You know, it's to you, I'd like to know, mmhhm, I'd like to know with you being black, if you have special problems being deaf?

00:40:49.000 --> 00:40:59.000
[SPEAKER name="Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter)"} Well I consider myself deaf first, black as second, because I have a problem communicate—communicating in the first place.

00:40:59.000 --> 00:41:20.000
So um, I hang around with the deaf, not with the blacks, because, uh, being deaf, that makes me a Deaf person. I'm in a Deaf culture, in a Deaf world. Black, uh, I can't help that either. [[AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]]

00:41:20.000 --> 00:41:27.650
And you know the deaf are color blind. You know that, so that didn't make, didn't make any difference to me

00:41:30.000 --> 00:41:39.000
Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): Thank you.
Jo Radner: Are there any other questions?

00:41:39.000 --> 00:41:45.000
Audience Member: I wonder if she finds, um, [[inaudible]]

00:41:45.000 --> 00:41:48.000
Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): She who, me? Oh okay that's nice of you sweet.

00:41:48.000 --> 00:41:52.000
Audience Member: If you find different worlds—

00:41:52.000 --> 00:41:56.000
Oh, if she finds [[LAUGHING]]

00:41:56.000 --> 00:42:13.000
If she finds different worlds? So white world, black world, deaf-black world, white you know deaf, you know. Different, four different worlds or does she find that deaf it's, it's all one world. Not different white-deaf worlds and black-deaf worlds?

00:42:13.000 --> 00:42:24.000
Nathie Couthen/John Ennis (interpreter): Well let me get this straight. There's a deaf-black, deaf-white, and there is, there is a difference yes.

00:42:24.000 --> 00:42:49.000
First problem, I'm too educated for the, for the deaf-blacks, I'm too educated. And then, in the white-deaf alright, I, since I grew up in the north in Pittsburgh, it hasn't really bothered me.

00:42:49.000 --> 00:42:55.000
I, you know purple, green, white, brown, red, it has, does not make a difference.

00:42:55.000 --> 00:43:11.000
But if I have a negative attitude about those things, then yes it would put me in trouble but I don't have that kind of an attitude. I don't let those things bother me, and I mix with all deaf.

00:43:11.000 --> 00:43:20.000
William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): Let me share something about that. Remember I grew up in Texas and I admit that I knew nothing about blacks.

00:43:20.000 --> 00:43:39.000
And uh, when I grew up I guess I was about maybe 16, 15, 16 years old. It was a deaf school, that had a cleaning, a cleaners, dry cleaners vocational program. We had to learn how to operate the machines and that sort of stuff,

00:43:39.000 --> 00:43:51.000
and that happened to be broken down. So there was another deaf school for blacks in another side of town in Texas and I had never know that it was there.

00:43:51.000 --> 00:44:01.000
So the deaf teacher took me and two or three to help him out and we got in the car and we took all the clothes in a big pile and drove over there.

00:44:01.000 --> 00:44:09.000
I guess it was about 15 miles over, I don't know. Went in there, it was an older school but it looked so neat.

00:44:09.000 --> 00:44:15.000
And I asked him, I said why? If they're deaf. You mean they're deaf, they're just like us? Yeah, they're saying they're black, you're white.

00:44:15.000 --> 00:44:23.000
And I said why is that different? And he said state law. So that's all I knew because of state law I didn't understand that.

00:44:23.000 --> 00:44:34.000
When I arrived and got out there, I saw a deaf person look at me and he was black, a black boy about my age and he had a basketball under his arm and we had something in common. I love basketball.

00:44:34.000 --> 00:44:42.390
We walked up and I started signing at him but he looked and he didn't understand, and I tried to talk, I saw that his signing was completely different also

00:44:44.000 --> 00:45:00.000
William Ennis/John Ennis (interpreter): and the black sign had their own sign—signing way and we white deaf had our own way of signing. I pointed to the basketball and he showed it to me and then finally we began to use a lot of gestures instead of our signs and his signs.

00:45:00.000 --> 00:45:07.000
So we begin to play and the teacher said "hey get over here, I brought you here what for? Get over here to work. You have to start cleaning these clothes."

00:45:07.000 --> 00:45:14.000
and I said "I wanna play basketball!" and he says "nah get over here," after that he followed us over and started watching and we started getting each others name, where you from, what town.

00:45:14.000 --> 00:45:18.000
We were gonna talk and the teacher was really complaining about it because I wasn't working.

00:45:18.000 --> 00:45:30.000
Really I started getting to know him and then a few years later, I went to New York and then down to Gallaudet and then I was in a basketball tournament. I met him and it was the same person, he was playing for a club and we begin to talk.

00:45:30.000 --> 00:45:36.000
Now we can talk you know, whenever we want to all, as much as we want to, we had a real good talk.

00:45:36.000 --> 00:45:45.000

00:45:45.000 --> 00:45:48.000
Jo Radner: Come on right up and share your story.

00:45:48.000 --> 00:46:00.000

00:46:00.000 --> 00:46:02.000
Would, would you like to introduce yourself?

00:46:02.000 --> 00:46:10.000
Gertha Cruts/John Ennis (interpreter): My name is Gertha Cruts and my sign name is this one.

00:46:10.000 --> 00:46:22.000
I would like to share my experience. Happen to me, no. It happened to my oldest deaf brother, I have two deaf brothers, and two hearing. I'm the baby of the family, and they all picked on me.

00:46:22.000 --> 00:46:39.000
I'm the only girl in the family. From what my mother's told me and how she recognized that I was deaf, my hearing brother, a little bit older than I, I guess he maybe was about 5. My deaf brother was behind him at 4 my parents never knew that he was really deaf.

00:46:39.000 --> 00:46:50.000
Always thought that he was stubborn and they always be calling after him every time they call him, my hearing brother would look and that would make my deaf brother look and they were with each other all the time.

00:46:50.000 --> 00:47:06.000
Something happened and my older brother went away and, and, uh, he was, young deaf brother was all dressed up in the Easter clothes and had his hat out playing, she kept hollering you want some candy, you want some candy, finally it hit her that he's deaf.

00:47:06.000 --> 00:47:16.760
It didn't bother my mother because she was familiar with deafness. We lived in a small town, small county, many called it uh

00:47:18.000 --> 00:47:25.000
Gertha Cruts/John Ennis (interpreter): Snuff, Snuff, uh, County, a really small, little county.

00:47:25.000 --> 00:47:34.000
And in that county, I would say about thirteen deaf lived in that area. I discussed it with my mother and my mother discussed it with the Doctor.

00:47:34.000 --> 00:47:43.000
Apparently three of us became deaf from the fourth generation, every four generations.

00:47:43.000 --> 00:47:55.000
My mother, then her grandparents, then her great-grand uncle, great grandfather, another deaf. There were five and then four in that generation and all these distant cousins in a deaf family.

00:47:55.000 --> 00:48:06.000
Now I have six children. All hearing, two grand children hearing. Perhaps their children or their children's children, the fourth generation.

00:48:06.000 --> 00:48:16.000
It may not be from my family tree but from my hearing brother or brothers, they may have it. It may not be from my family tree. If so then I would be very proud.

00:48:16.000 --> 00:48:21.000
Jo Radner: Thank you.

00:48:21.000 --> 00:48:28.000
Are there any other questions or experiences you all would like to share?

00:48:28.000 --> 00:48:44.000

00:48:44.000 --> 00:48:53.000
Would you like to come up here and say a few words? [[BACKGROUND TALKING, INAUDIBLE]]

00:48:53.000 --> 00:49:02.000
If she, if you'd prefer to stay there that's fine. You can stand up right there, that's fine.

00:49:02.000 --> 00:49:21.720