The ninth volume in the Gallaudet Classics in Deaf Studies series, this novel was written between 1917 and 1919, a rollicking tale of a young deaf boy and how he learned to survive and thrive at the advent of the 20th century.
Howard L. Terry wrote a novel between 1917 and 1922, which he donated to the Gallaudet University Archives in 1951. There it rested until a resurgence of interest in Deaf literature led to its recent rediscovery. Mickey’s Harvest: A Novel of a Deaf Boy’s Checkered Life recounts the rollicking tale of a young deaf man and how he learned to survive and thrive at the advent of the 20th century.
Mickey Dunmore’s story begins with the sinking of his father’s merchant sailing ship and ends with a cliffhanger in World War I. In school, after an illness caused his deafness, Mickey finds himself constantly fighting the hearing boys and later competing with the signing students when he attends a residential school for deaf students. In college, he and his best friend Dick Wagner leave early to travel the nation with the hobos, carnies, and grifters. In one town, they outfox a barker who was using a deaf girl to “read” the minds of their marks. Further on, they meet Bunny, the Mighty Mite deaf man who helps expose a hearing woman posing as deaf to scam sympathetic people. Mickey faces his greatest challenge when he falls in love with Marion Carrel, a deaf girl whose hearing father forbids their romance on eugenics grounds.
Terry, who became deaf at the age of 11, states from the outset that he means for his novel to reveal the biases confronting deaf people at the time. As a tonic, he populates Mickey’s Harvest with artistic, talented deaf individuals who engage readers in an earlier, colorful time as they “show their stuff.”
Howard L. Terry (1877-1964) was a novelist, poet, and features writer for a number of magazines and newspapers.
Kristen C. Harmon is Professor, Department of English, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.