The Story of My Life

Part II. Letters (1887–1901)

TO MR. WILLIAM WADE


...Since you are so much interested in the deaf and blind, I will begin by telling you of several cases I have come across lately. Last October I heard of an unusually bright little girl in Texas. Her name is Ruby Rice, and she is thirteen years old, I think. She has never been taught; but they say she can sew and likes to help others in this sort of work. Her sense of smell is wonderful. Why, when she enters a store, she will go straight to the showcases, and she can also distinguish her own things. Her parents are very anxious indeed to find a teacher for her. They have also written to Mr. Hitz about her.

I also know a child at the Institution for the Deaf in Mississippi. Her name is Maud Scott, and she is six years old. Miss Watkins, the lady who has charge of her wrote me a most interesting letter. She said that Maud was born deaf and lost her sight when she was only three months old, and that when she went to the Institution a few weeks ago, she was quite helpless. She could not even walk and had very little use of her hands. When they tried to teach her to string beads, her little hands fell to her side. Evidently her sense of touch has not been developed, and as yet she can walk only when she holds some one's hand; but she seems to be an exceedingly bright child. Miss Watkins adds that she is very pretty. I have written to her that when Maud learns to read, I shall have many stories to send her. The dear, sweet little girl, it makes my heart ache to think how utterly she is cut off from all that is good and desirable in life. But Miss Watkins seems to be just the kind of teacher she needs.

I was in New York not long ago and I saw Miss Rhoades, who told me that she had seen Katie McGirr. She said the poor young girl talked and acted exactly like a little child. Katie played with Miss Rhoades's rings and took them away, saying with a merry laugh, "You shall not have them again!" She could only understand Miss Rhoades when she talked about the simplest things. The latter wished to send her some books; but she could not find anything simple enough for her! She said Katie was very sweet indeed, but sadly in need of proper instruction. I was much surprised to hear all this; for I judged from your letters that Katie was a very precocious girl....

A few days ago I met Tommy Stringer in the railroad station at Wrentham. He is a great, strong boy now, and he will soon need a man to take care of him; he is really too big for a lady to manage. He goes to the public school, I hear, and his progress is astonishing, they say; but it doesn't show as yet in his conversation, which is limited to "Yes" and "No."...

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