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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Amy Signs: A Mother, Her Deaf Daughter, and Their Stories
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 Schmierer family reunion. Amy and her cousins goofing off. Front
 row: Tom Walthers, Richard Walthers, and David Soriente. Back
 row: Amy Willman, Tony Soriente, and John Willman, 2001.

Grandma said to me, “After playing 101 times, you finally got bored?”

I said “YES!” I bet Grandma would say it was about time to change. Imagine it, I still have that Uncle Wriggly game.

Second we went to the library. I picked any books I wanted and I read to myself at night before going to bed.

One time we had a homemade sling shot. Grandma made the sling by finding a “y” wood stick. Then she used her old, torn panty hose for the strap. We used apples from the backyard and saw who could shoot the apples farther. Or sometime, we picked a target to see who shoot closest to the target. Years and years later, she finally brought a REAL sling shot.

Sometimes we had a tea party—usually just us or my cousins, Tony and David, who lived in the same town as Grandma and Grandpa Schmierer, joined us. They are younger than me. We just played together, games or at the park, I really did not communicate with them, just played as kids.

As for Grandpa, I saw him as an intelligent man, who always wore his fedora and was “tough” looking, a hard-working person. What we did together the most was going to his farm. There I would help him cut asparagus, which is my favorite vegetable. We watched baseball games on TV. I rode in his big, blue, old car around the town of Beatrice. Grandpa read the newspaper lot. I tried to imitate him. I read the comics or pretended to figure out the crosswords puzzles. He loved to do crosswords. Grandpa did not sign to me at all, but he would write on a paper to communicate with me while Grandma signed to me. The week I spent with Grandma and Grandpa Schmierer from age five to ten was a good fun week.

As for my grandma and grandpa Willman, my father’s parents, my grandpa died when I was only one year old, so I don’t remember him. Grandma Willman did not sign; she died when I was eight. I did visit their home for a day or several hours, but not often. She gave me a doll to play with. We lived in a same town, but I never spent a week at their home. I really never had much of chance to know her compared to Grandma and Grandpa Schmierer.


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