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Deaf Hearing Boy: A Memoir

R. H. Miller

Chapter Seven
A New Life (1951-1953)

My education at Sherry School had lasted only that one term of the spring of 1950 because the school board had already made plans to close all the one-room schools and consolidate the students in the district into one elementary school (Grades 1–8, still no kindergarten). This new school was built just south of town on Route 111 and was initially named the Defiance Township School. Later, it was renamed the Anthony Wayne School after the local hero General Anthony Wayne, also known as Mad Anthony. The school is still active today, and my brother Art’s grandson attended it at one time, but it has been expanded considerably from the little school it was when I completed the seventh and eighth grades there.

After Sherry School, this new school was luxurious. It had honest-to-God toilets, a cafeteria (no more tin lunch boxes arrayed on the wooden shelves at the back of the schoolroom), central heating, a gym with real baskets and backboards for basketball, and softball fields (baseball was banned at the new school). Now, instead of four grades in one room, we had two grades to a room, and my teacher was once again Mrs. Custer, who also acted as principal for the school. By this time, I was on my feet academically, even in math, and thrived. My parents basked in my successes and took every opportunity to attend school functions, including PTA meetings and the like, and I attended along with them to interpret. For them, everything I ever achieved was a vindication of them.

At the June 1952 eighth-grade graduation at Defiance Township School, my parents are in their Sunday best, and all four of us boys are scrubbed, necktied, and suited like the little young men we are supposed to be in America during the ’50s. We are as poor as any family can be, but Mom is determined to keep us looking decent. Our little class of twenty pupils is first treated to corsages and carnations, then a sitdown dinner, and finally the ceremonies. Mom is in her element, socializing with one and all while I interpret, and Dad stands shyly by, saying nothing. I marvel at her ease, her ability to mingle with the Hearing world without a by-your-leave. She is enjoying the spotlight as the proud mother of an overachieving son and plays her role to the hilt, almost too much so to my embarrassment and, I think also, to Dad’s.

After each conversation ends, the Hearing person always says, without exception, “Bob, you have such fine parents! They have done so much with what they have been given!” And then I interpret to Mom and Dad, and they smile and thank them profusely.

I think to myself, what a crock of shit! But deep down, under all the platitudes, I know they are right.

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