Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Mother writes about her family in August 1971

Dr. and Mrs. Winthrop Chapman
      Dr. Winthrop S. Chapman [father of Tad Chapman] died at the age of [82?] on September 14, 1965.  I remember Dad as a quiet, kind man, yet capable of a twinkle in his eye. He was best able to communicate about two main subjects – the wisdom of saving, and the stock market. His conversation was not frivolous. His keeping of records was detailed and complete.

      I better understand Dad after my summer’s efforts organizing pictures and newspaper articles about Tad, and a brief scanning of the many letters. (A fat folder for each year since 1917).

      He was a talented young doctor with opportunities of prestige ahead. This changed after Tad’s illness. He refused opportunities for big city success as physician.

      In my scanning, I found that he dealt successfully with many obstacles. No wonder he became an introspective, single-purposed man. Suddenly he had a deaf-blind child. Mother told me they had never seen a blind child before. The first problem was understanding such a handicap. Next came Dad’s desire to find some way to enable Tad to communicate with the world and retain his speech. Their early unskilled efforts with Tad, finding someone – anyone – that believed as they did, then finding a teacher who could teach Tad as they believed. Next came finding out the laws of the state, and problem of getting Tad admitted into a school. (School for the Deaf at Sioux Falls, South Dakota) After that step, money had to be appropriated by the State Legislature for a special teacher. Later selecting and being admitted in a school for the blind (Perkins Institution for the Blind.) The Depression came immediately after this which presented greater financial problems and burdens. There were also problems of school administration (Sioux Falls), and the desire to exploit Tad (Perkins), etc. It would seem that Dad only solved one obstacle to meet another. So many of us would have been defeated.

      Mother gave of herself physically – the house, Tom and myself, communication with Tad, preparation of things for Tad to do, and her wit. Dad gave his determination, his meeting obstacles and solving them, his projection into the future. “When I am gone, I want Tad ….” It was fortunate that Tad had such a combination of parents.

Amanda and Tad in 1969
      There is one more very important person, Amanda Harmening. Amanda is still with Tad and us [until her death in 1973]. Without her devotion, neither my parents, nor Tad, could have achieved so much. We love her dearly, and are eternally grateful and indebted to her. She is one of our family.

      Someday I hope to condense the files and compile an unprofessional but meaningful record. There are many wonderful people who helped – from all over the United States and the world. Included should be the effects on Tom, myself, his wife and my husband and our children. Tad has not known fame as others have; yet he and our parents truly “opened a door” in history and education.
From right to left: Janet Chapman Beavis, Tad Chapman, and Adrian Fickes

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Purpose

New Purpose

When I started this blog I thought it would be a way to tell Tad’s story without writing a book. I have learned from my experience and now understand a blog does not lend itself to linear story-telling.  I have now retired and enough time has passed for me to relax, refresh, and rededicate myself to telling Tad’s story in a book. The first step is to read ALL the source material which may take considerable time. I will post some material to this blog so it can be available to the public. I also plan on providing links to resources and other helpful information when possible. Posts will continue to be irregular.

I want to thank anyone who has chosen to follow my blog or even just visited. You have encouraged me no end. I have been telling about Tad all my life and it’s amazing the number of people who just don’t “get it”, who don’t seem to understand what an achievement it is for anyone to overcome deaf-blindness. People who are deaf and blind are like Helen Keller in one thing only – their deaf-blindness. There are as many ways of living with that disability as there are ways of being “normal”. There were assumptions about what anyone who was disabled could and could not do that persisted until they were challenged by other pathfinders. For me, Tad’s story is important because he did not live his life just like Helen Keller – he lived it like Tad Chapman. If you know someone who is living with deaf-blindness I hope they also have the opportunity to find their own path, their own normal.

P.S. As I go through the source material I plan on developing a PowerPoint presentation with the intent of doing some speaking for motivational or informational purposes. More on this later.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Moving forward any way I can

Still more thoughts about the "right tool for the job" and question if I'm the right tool. Trying to work on the book/blog after a full day at work is daunting to say the least. I wake up at night and worry that I haven't added anything recently. I can't let it go but I have no energy for it. I recently was told that, "Comfort is the enemy of success". From my recliner, I agree. BUT-I get a 4-day weekend so perhaps?
1/21/13 - Today is the last day of a 4-day weekend and I have been busy. I have added a page for my thoughts and memories and I will be adding a "Scrapbook" page for images from Tad's actual scrapbook and family pictures (which I plan to crop carefully to respect family privacy concerns as much as possible). I plan on returning this page to posts from the actual documents.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A few thoughts - or maybe just justifications for bad behavior

I've been feeling badly that I haven't updated this recently. I have been challenged this year by depression and health issues. I'm about 1 year away from being eligible to retire from my current job with a local government agency. Although nobody else has a job, my workload gets bigger and bigger, the agency pushes us harder and harder and, face it, I'm not getting younger so I don't have as much energy to use to get through the day. When I got to this stage of Tad's story I pictured myself going thru all the material and presenting conclusive arguments proving my opinion that Tad's experiences and the publicity in the newspapers at that time were germinal to the American's With Disabilities Act. My grandfather made the State of South Dakota pay for Tad's education by appearing before the legislators and proving Tad was capable of learning; therefore, according to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, the State had to provide him with an education. I have books with my grandfather's notes in the margins that date from that time. My grandfather was the son of a newspaper publisher and knew that the way to keep the funding was to publicize my uncle's accomplishments as a result of that education so there are many newspaper articles that I plan to scan and publish. Some of these have had the name of the newspaper &/or the date cut off, so I have not been able to use them as citations for Wikipedia so that I can correct the Wikipedia entry about Tadoma, but I still hope to properly attribute them at some point.
My head started saying, "Who are you to do this? No one will pay any mind. What does it matter?" I have given considerable thought to how to pick myself up and begin to write again. I have decided the best way forward is to return to my original plan - let the material speak for itself. I will scan &/or transcribe and then post what I have. Those that are interested can read what they wish and I'll leave any conclusions or results up to the strength of the material and to God. Give me time - retirement is coming and my depression is lifting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Word from my Grandmother Jessie

An undated excerpt from a speech or letter by my grandmother and typed by my mother, Janet Chapman Beavis. My grandfather did most of the letter-writing and, based on later examples, my grandmother did the speeches which is why I guessed that this might have been a speech. (Copied from something in Mother’s [Grandmother Jessie Chapman] handwriting)
At the age of 4 Tad, an exceptionally fine boy physically, had spinal Meningitis which left him after months in the hospital both deaf and blind.  By the time he was well enough to be up and about he had lost all memory of speech. Even those most familiar words “Mother” and “Daddy”.  Our problem then was to re-adjust this little boy to his new world – dark and silent.  At first he couldn’t bear to be left alone.  He must feel some one of us near him. He would play contentedly with his toy with is foot touching one of ours. We made a great effort to keep his thoughts happy and active and to include him in all the family interests – preparing vegetables, new pets, fishing, even hunting. One of my most vivid pictures is that of his father rabbit hunting with him. He would shoot with Tad near enough to feel the report of the gun and smell the powder and then trudge down the furrows to get their game which Tad would tug at, feeling he was doing his part in this great adventure that all boys love.  Then they would bring home their game and dress it – Tad’s inquisitive little fingers following every move. Then he would follow it to the stove and see it thru every step until it was served. Never a mighty hunter sat himself down to a feast with greater satisfaction. I am telling you this to show how we kept him interested and happy, for Tad’s happy sweet disposition is unusual.
When he grew strong enough we were faced with the problem of his education. We read and corresponded with people on the subject of the deaf-blind and found there were no schools, nor any given method of educating this type of child. There are schools for the deaf and schools for the blind, but on visiting these institutions found them almost unwilling to assume the responsibility of so great a task. There are, or were then, two methods of educating the deaf, over which educators of the deaf were at war – the oral and the manual methods of teaching.
This divide between the oral and manual methods of communication and teaching still remains.  There are arguments over the advantages and disadvantages of each.  Those who prefer signing argue it is a more natural method of communication for those who are completely deaf. Those who argue that the oral method is preferable say that this method makes it possible to participate in conversations with hearing people. It doesn't seem to be a simple choice such as whether an immigrant family should talk only in English around the children or also use their native language. I am not an expert in these questions and it seems to me each family should consider the natural preferences and experiences of the child.
On another topic I'm still trying to read my grandfather's mind based on the books and other material he had obtained that are dated 1900 or 1904 which I'm guessing were materials he used to convince the state legislature of South Dakota that Tad was entitled to an education paid for by the State.  Some of this material has notes in his handwriting in the margins.  In my opinion the fact that the State took this action was a clear precedent for the Americans With Disabilities Act which came many years later.  But I need to pull together the information and it is taking me awhile. I'm not a historian. I dropped out of college - yes, it was a top-notch college - but nonetheless I did not graduate. In my senior year I would have had to do a thesis. The work I'm doing here may be my way of mending that bad choice.  I thought at the time I needed to take care of my mother because my step-dad had been put into a coma by a drunk driver and my mother had a long history of deep depression. It was the biggest mistake I ever made and remains my deepest regret (and that covers a lot of territory). I am determined but frequently get overwhelmed - plus working full time does not often find me with a lot of energy in the evenings. If you're one of my friends from Facebook I will continue to post there when I update here. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

This week's update - 8/8/10

I've shared letters showing the early days when my grandfather and grandmother were first figuring out what to do once it looked like Tad would live. At this point I've decided to summarize my grandfather's search for help instead of posting each letter he wrote. The letters are pretty much the same as well as the responses he got. Most refer him either to Perkins Institute or to Helen Keller's book. I believe there is a response from Perkins and I will post that when I find it. I have most of the letters in archival sleeves in notebooks, but some letters have been taken out for one reason or another and then put back too quickly. The newspaper articles have been laminated by my mother and placed in a homemade scrapbook and in some cases the date or newspaper name was removed. In order to move ahead at this point I need to take some time to review and summarize from both the letters, clippings, and marginal notes in the books my grandfather used to make his argument to the State Legislature.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The House that Jessie Built

                                    Meeker – Chapman
Friends in this city have received announcements of the marriage in Chicago of Miss Jessie Alice Meeker to Dr. Winthrop Chapman.  Miss Meeker was the efficient nurse who took care of Representative Weiser during his recent attack of typhoid fever.
Miss Meeker is a charming young woman and all who knew her will wish her happiness.  The marriage took place June 8 and Dr. and Mrs. Chapman will be home in Raymond South Dakota after July 20.
My grandmother, Jessie Alice Meeker, died on my fourth birthday, so I did not have many memories of her.  My clearest memory is of snuggling up to her in her hospital bed in the dining room to watch the Ice Capades on television. (The bed had been put there so she would not have to climb the stairs to the bedrooms.) I probably remember this because it was rare that I got to climb into her hospital bed as she suffered from a heart condition. I was also impressed because she told my father to “shush” and allow me to stay up late for once.  Wow, someone who could tell my father what to do!
Otherwise, my grandmother was a legend to me.  I heard about how she got disowned by her family THREE times, once for appearing onstage in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado (she was one of the three little maids from school). Another time she was disowned for daring to attend nursing school (something that a genteel lady of good breeding did not do). The last time was for marrying my grandfather (he wasn’t good enough for her according to her family). 
My grandparents’ romance must have been grand.  They met while he was interning at Chicago’s Lying-in Hospital and she was a nurse.  The nurses were cloistered on the top floor of the hospital in which they worked and my grandparents would rendezvous on the back stairs.  I guess the reason her family thought he wasn’t good enough for her was because his father was just a newspaper editor in the small town of St. James, Minnesota.  In contrast, she was from an old, influential family.  I was told she received some fame for nursing a senator through typhus and was written up in the newspaper for having done so and that this connection was the source of my grandfather’s idea to go before the South Dakota State Legislature to get them to provide an education for Tad.
I have found the newspaper clipping (transcribed below), but it does not say the politician was a senator, rather that he was a representative. I have not been able to find the politician’s complete name or even which state he represented.  The clipping has had the name of the newspaper trimmed off of it and the city is not named. I know that my grandparents lived in Bismark, North Dakota briefly when their sons Tom and Tad were young (before Tad’s 4th birthday). I Googled “Weiser” and “Representative Weiser” turns out there was an influential Weiser in North Dakota during the approximate time period. Considering my uncle Tad was born in 1915 and his brother Tom was two years older than Tad, I’m guessing they got married between 1910 and 1913. Considering I was told by my mother that my grandmother said that all it took for her to get pregnant was to hang her panties up next to my grandfather’s pants, my best guess for their marriage is 1912.  I have not been able to find a Representative Weiser in the early 1900s that could have been nursed by my grandmother. However, whoever he is he did my family a great service by suggesting they use the State Constitution of South Dakoka’s clause to provide for Tad’s education. 
Some things in life seem like the children’s story “The House that Jack Built” – bit by bit, one thing leads to another and they don’t seem directly connected to the final result and yet it takes all the parts to reach that final result. If my grandmother had not been headstrong and insisted on becoming a nurse, and if she hadn’t nursed the Representative, and if she hadn’t married a doctor who also happened to be the son of a newspaperman would they have been able to cope with Tad’s illness and the results of that illness in the same way and with the same success?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

August 26, 1919? (Still looking for help)

August 26, 1919?

722 Second Avenue South
Minneapolis Minnesota

Dear Miss Marsh,

Our little boy continues to gain in strength and will be able to walk soon.  He sits up alone now and can stand by holding to something but gets tired very soon.  He is just crazy to get around and feel and investigate everything, and as he cannot yet walk it keeps us busy.  He knows all his old toys and knows that he is home.  We sit him at the table now and let him feed himself and he does better than most normal children.
We simply don’t have the time to teach him as we should for I must be at the office and Mrs. Chapman has no help and it keeps her humping.  But we have a few signs taught him.  And we talk so much to him by placing his hand to our face or by placing our face next to his.  One day he put one of his hands to his own throat and the other to my throat and told me that “Noise goes right down there”.  And I have got him so that I will say “Boo” and he will repeat it after me, having one of his hands on my throat and the other on his own.  But he gets tired so quickly and is so interested in other things that only once in a while can we get him interested in what we try to do.
He is such a good boy all the time and talks almost as much as he ever did, of which we are very thankful.  And he seems happy and contented and that of course makes it easier for us. 
We don’t know yet what we can do about a teacher for him.  I have got to get squared away better from the big financial drain of the past three months* before I can do much, and that will be a couple more months before I can feel that I can stand the expense.  He is going to learn very fast.
With very best wishes from us both I am sincerely, Winthrop S. Chapman

*By financial drain my grandfather was a doctor and for three months he was totally focused on trying to save his child's life.  In addition I have found more information. Tad became sick in May 1919 while in Watertown, South Dakota and was taken to the hospital in Minneapolis and was brought back to Redfield in August 1919 when these letters start. That's a lot of hospital bills plus money they would have spent to stay in town near him. They also would have had to make arrangements for Tom who was two years older (aged 6). - JB

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aug 21, 1919-Another letter to Lila Chapman

August 21st 1919
Dear Mother,
Tad sits up alone in his little chair before his little table and we have begun to let him feed himself.  He gets along much better than most normal kids, no mussing things up, but he does stick a finger in now and then to locate things.  [kept doing that all his life from time to time-JB]  Tickled to be able to feed himself.  He insists on standing up with our help but cannot hardly hold himself on one foot while he pushes the other ahead.  But in a few days he will be walking.  He is just crazy to get around and feel things and when Jess let him feel the sideboard he said right away “Oh, brand new one”  Now who in thunder would think he would know that.  And yesterday we had him dressed for the first time while we took him down for a haircut and before we got home he wanted a drink and I took him into the drug store and got him one, and while there he felt of the marble top to the soda fountain and immediately wanted a soda, he knew that he was in the soda shop. 

He talks a good deal, some say more than he ever did before and that he talks plainer.  And when he thinks that possibly we don’t understand him he takes our hand and places it to his face and then talks and if we then place our face to his and answer he seems more satisfied.  I just left him playing with his bunnie rabbits and talking with them or rather to them and thoroughly enjoying himself.

I don’t know how we are going to discipline him, we have not the heart to spank him and we try to get for him everything he asks for and that is not much for it is just eats or some toy or candy or auto ride, but when he asks for something that we have not got and there is no way to tell him he just keeps on asking and asking until the tears come.  No whining only that hurt tone and we cannot stand it.  But before we are done he is going to be badly spoiled and we don’t know what we can do about it.
[Dr. Winthrop S. Chapman]

Monday, July 19, 2010

August 15, 1919 - more progress

August 15th 1919
[Dear Mother.]
Tad continues to get stronger very fast.  He holds himself together when we carry him now and sits up in the chair nicely and even tries a little to help with his feet when we pick him up.  For the past three days he has had a good deal to say about “I can’t see”.  He will try to look at his hands or at a paper or book.  Does not complain or worry or fuss over it but just states it as a fact.  He is still just as good as can be and plays and pretends and talks quite a little.  Yesterday he had one hand on my throat and one on his own and we were talking or rather I was making sounds that I wanted him to imitate and he told me “Noise goes right down there” feeling of his throat then of mine.  His life is too full of other things just yet for him to want to get bothered much yet.
[Dr. Winthrop S. Chapman]
[When he says Tad holds himself together when they carry them it makes me realize how very sick and very weak Tad was. Just think how a child who is awake holds himself and how different it is to hold a child who is asleep. - JB]

Sunday, July 18, 2010

August 1919 Letters Found

When I was trying to figure out where I left off so that I could recreate the broken links I found letters that I had previously transcribed. I have decided that I will transcribe letters even if I scan them and post the images so that if the link breaks it will be easier to recreate the link, I find this letter interesting because it shows my grandparents beginning to hope again even though Tad was still so weak he hardly could stand on his own. - Jane

August 13th 1919

Dear Mother,
Speaking about how slow a process it will be to teach Tad just listen to this and then think how fast a process it will be.  When he got home [from the hospital?] Jess had two things taught to him, one was by placing his hand on her face and then smiling he got it and would smile back.  And when he had his cracker or bread all eaten up and wished to signify that it was all gone he would show his hands empty palms out, so Jess to show him that there was no more to give him would hold his hands up then place hers against his palm to palm.  He got it, and would then quit asking.  Since he got home we have gotten him to imitate us in several ways.  In feeding himself he would take his own spoon and fill it and then I would get it shipshape and to indicate to him that it was ready I would tap twice on his spoon.  He would wait until I tapped twice after he got the idea.  The other day he was playing with his pennies and started to count 1,2,3,4,8,16,18, etc.  I got him to count them into my hand then I counted them back into his hand placing our cheeks close together.  I would count then he would count.  He knew what I was saying and thot [sic] it great sport. 

Yesterday he was singing at the top of his voice and all of a sudden told his mother “You say ‘Don’t make so much noise”  Jess placed his hand to her cheek and said it but that was not satisfactory so he pulled her face down next to his, and she said it,  he said “All right” and laughed and thot that a good one.  They did that back and forth a good half dozen times until he was tired.  He fully understood what she said.

Today while he was siting on my lap all of a sudden he placed his hand on his throat and started to say “You-  then repeated “You” over a couple times then of his own accord he placed his hand on my throat and I said “you” and he would place his hand from his throat while he said it to my throat while I said it.  He understood that we were both saying the same word and that it was “You”.  By the time he is able to walk he will not only be ready for teaching but will have a good start. He is a happy little boy and just as patient and good as can be.  Only once in a while he gets night and day mixed and then we have our troubles.  I tell you what our policy of always being on the job and giving him what he asked for and or  [illegible].  He has got the idea and is ready to be given various articles and taught their name.  He is still to weak to want to bother much or long at a time. 

What we need now is to know the proper way to hold our hands or his hands to our throat(s).  Also our own speak [sic] must be developed so that the lip, nasal, and throat sounds are accentuated. 
And darned if Tad is not all ready for it.

He sits up in the chair and holds his head better, and yesterday he turned over on the bed and tried to get up on his hands and knees but could hardly make it.  And now when I lift him he tries to put a little push into his legs.

Yesterday I gave him a toy areoplane [sic] a tin one about 5 inches across.  Now he has never seen such a toy and the only Arieoplanes [sic] he has ever seen have been those of the Flying circus, but after he had felt that one over he asked “How do Areoplane [sic] go?”  I never had the least idea that he would know what it was. 

His brains are working.

He knows that he is home.  Knows his toys and is thoroughly enjoying himself.  Tho some days wants a good deal of attention, otherwise he seems contented and happy.

This morning he told me “I cant see”
 [Dr. Winthrop S Chapman]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Perseverance - aka stubborness

I know I don't have many followers but I wanted to make a statement about the blog's status. Currently we are stalled because the URL links with my Kodak Easyshare did not work. I have now installed Picasa in the hope that since it's Google's photo program it will work better with Google's Blogger. Now I need to figure out which scans go where and re-establish them. I rearranged my furniture today to make a better office area - someplace I can actually work. Just because my computer is a laptop, doesn't mean I have to do everything on my lap. So - if you're interested in the history of the deaf and blind, stick with me and we'll be blogging again soon. - Jane

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Yet another learning experience - and not a happy one

I thought I had solved my problem with saving my scans by connecting to the URL but now I see that the link to the URL gets lost.  Looks like I'm going to have to use Picasa since it likes to "talk" to Blogger.  It's a good thing I don't give up easily.  I have decided that as I post things and work on the Blog I am going to echo what I'm doing in a Word document so "the book" actually does get written.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

More from Sept 1919

More learning - Now that I'm using a URL you can click on the image to get a larger view or see the whole image. (Didn't know it would do that, yet another learning experience.) Then just click your backspace to go back to the blog.- JB  
[Yet again a referral to Helen Keller but Helen Keller was the daughter of a rich man who could afford to hire a private teacher for his daughter. -JB

 [Tad was terrified that he could not see but since he was deaf no one could explain it to him.- JB]

[The above is from the Jackson School - I don't know any further information about them, but they did provide another lead that Grandfather could follow up. It would seem that Grandfather was contacting anyone he could and using whatever connections he had to find some help. They lived in Redfield SD which is still a small farming town, but it's the County seat. As in all small towns they didn't need a newspaper to get the news. As my mother used to say, "They know if you've brushed your teeth, and if you haven't they know why not."- JB]

[This letter dated 9/1/1919 was enclosed with the letter from the Jackson School.  Note he wrote on the bottom when he responded which must have been the same day since it came with the Jackson letter which was dated 9/21/19.
- JB  One more letter follows this one. I'm learning to put text in between images and I now see that I should crop at the bottom of the letters to avoid blank space. More learning! But I now know how to find and use an image URL.  - JB

[For once somebody didn't refer him to Helen Keller. - JB]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Learning Experiences

I had touble today and Blogger wouldn't let me upload multiple images so scans may wind up being a problem, although I'm not willing to give it up.  May need to investigate Picassa. I'm also thinking Pages would be a better way to go.  Running out of time this weekend so I'll work on this.  It's just an attitude thing, but I have to look at set-backs as learning experiences and not failures. As long as I can learn something I have not failed.  I do try to avoid remedial learning experiences.  Make NEW mistakes!! - JB

Early September 1919

This was written on both sides of his stationery so I copied one side and then scanned both the copy and original together. If I tried scanning as a document and not an image it picked up both sides of the paper. - JB

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Search Begins

The following was on the back of one of the onionskin carbons and is included as a glimpse into context – what was going on in their lives at the time. Remember his son had just been horribly sick for months and was only now starting to get better (see Medical History).  -JB
August 14th 1919
Collector of Internal Revenue
Aberdeen, S.D.
            Kindly advise me what tax is due from me under the Harrison law as a physician.
            After being discharged from the Army last Dec I sent in to you [sic] Postoffice money order for the balance of 1918 to June 1919.  I also enclosed in this money order 10 cents extra for order blanks but have never heard a thing from you.
            Kindly send me these blanks.  My reg. No is 489.
Yours very truly
[Dr. Winthrop Severance Chapman]
I have not found the earliest letters reporting the illness to Tad's Grandmother or searching for help, so evidently he did not immediately begin keeping carbons of his letters.  I suspect that my great-grandmother Lila Chapman [nee Clark] of St. James, MN was the person who suggested that a record be kept. She was the wife of a newspaperman, Augustus Chapman, and after his death received nationwide notice for running his newspaper for months by herself until she was able to find a buyer for it. This was unheard-of at the time and it was considered amazing that she could do it. Obviously, she was a capable woman. I wish I had the scrapbook we found after my grandfather's death that was full of clippings regarding this period of her life. My cousins Thomas and James Chapman received that since they carried the Chapman name.  At this time these are the earliest letters I have found. As much as I can, I am putting the letters in chronological order, but if I later find a letter out of order that is noteworthy I will include it.  I believe the following letter was from someone who had become blind (and deaf to some extent?) whose name had been given to my grandfather as a possible source of information regarding education of someone who is deaf and blind.  -JB
On the letterhead of Lindsay G. Lucas, 2412 Bloomington Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 1, 1919
Dear Mr. Chapman,
You will pardon the delay, I hope, as we have been visiting out of town, and your letter was received but a few hours since. I am a trifle "rusty" in the use of the machine, I fear, but will attempt a letter, and will ask you, to overlook all errors.
I am very sorry to learn that there is no improvement in your son's condition, but am glad to see you are taking such a cheerful and philosophic view of the matter. I am sure he cannot but get along nicely, in view of your determination to do all that can be done for him.  I do not mean to place myself in the light of seeking sympathy, but I think he has a far better future before him than I, as he will retain his natural ambition.  He has hardly tasted of life, yet, one might say, and will scarcely realize what he is missing.
As to the matter of his education, you are doubtless aware that upon reaching the proper age, he should be entitled to grade and high-school education at the State Institution.  Under a Minnesota law, the State furnishes a private instructor in cases of the double affliction.  I thought seriously of attending the School of Faribault, myself, but am ineligible, due to the fact that I am over twenty-one.  I have intended to take a special course of study, and tho I should be allowed to attend the school, the y could not be expected to furnish a private teacher for one who is not strictly eligible.
Sorry to say I am not familiar with either of the addresses you desire.  I think Miss Keller lives in Boston.  But perhaps she has no permanent address, as I understand she does a great deal of travelling. [Helen Keller gave many demonstrations and speeches and was promoting a film about her life (not the Miracle Worker.-JB)]  I do know, however, that her education was begun at the Perkins Institute, of Boston, and a letter to them might bring some helpful information.  If I can obtain these addresses in any way, I shall be glad to write and give them to you.
I am sorry I was [un]able to see you, the day you were in town.  I had planned upon your visit, but upon endeavoring to learn what time to expect you, I was given the false impression that you had postponed the trip, altogether.  We had been shopping all morning, and as I felt rather tired, I thought it best to take a brief nap.  I was just beginning to feel good and drowsy, when you arrived, and tho I should have been willing to get up, I knew I could not make a very edifying spectacle, and did not want you to carry away a discouraging opinion.
Hoping this letter may prove of some slight aid, and assuring you of my eagerness to be of whatever small service possible, I remain,
                                                Yours very surely,
                                                            Lindsay Lucas
P.S. I think it would be as well to see that your little boy gets all the exercise possible, and to look first after his general health well.  Being a physician, you no doubt know what is best for him on that score.
[Transcription of preceding letter. – JB]
September 3rd 1919
Mrs. Macey,
Care of Helen Keller, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Mrs. Macey,
I have a little boy a little over four years of age [Tad's birthday is April 4, 1915] who is just recovering from a long siege of Spinal Meningitis and who is left both blind and deaf.
Now the question is his education and we have not the least idea as to what to do or where to begin, and I am writing you to get your advise [sic] on the matter.  We surely will appreciate a word of advise from you.
The little boy is not yet able to walk but will be soon.  He is getting acquainted with everything around.  He talks to us and to his pets a great deal.  We do what we can to teach him and have already gotten a few ideas to him.
He is already for his teaching, tho we are not financially able just now to go very far, but we want to find out what should be done and make our plans.
I enclose a picture of my two boys, it is the little one that is ruined. [Hardly politically correct, but it does show his point of view at the time.-JB]
Thanking  you very much and with very best wishes to Miss Keller, I am sincerely [Dr. W. S. Chapman]
September 6, 1919
Commanding Officer
U.S. Government School for the Blind, Baltimore
Dear Sir,
I have a little boy just past four years of age who is left both deaf and blind as a result of Spinal Meningitis.  He is not yet entirely recovered, he cannot walk yet but will be able to do so soon.  And for all his weakness he is so active that we have hard work keeping up with him.  Mental condition has not been hurt at all.
Now we not only want him educated so that we can communicate with him, and so that he can get all that is possible for him to get out of this life, but we want him educated so that he can do something to make a living and take his place in the world, no matter how small a place it is.  We hardly know where to begin.  While we were in Minneapolis we looked up the subject as much as possible [at the hospital or library?] but when anybody found that he was doubly afflicted they were as lost as we were.
Of course we have picked up a few ideas and are doing our best to get any idea that we can to him.  He is all ready for real teaching. He talks to us continually and I have taught him to place one hand on my throat and one on his own and we will make noises and he knows and enjoys doing so.  Have gotten him to repeat "Boo-o-o-o" after us.  Today at the table he asked for the skins to be left on his potatoes and I placed my cheek next to his and said "Alright".  He repeated the word outloud after me and waited for me to fix the potatoes and showing that he got the word.  One day, placing on of his hands on his own throat and one on mine he informed me that "Noises go right down there"  He is just as happy and contented as can be and plays hard all day long. 
I would greatly appreciate a word from you as to just what ought to be done with the little fellow in his education now and what can we train him for in the future.
Thanking you very much I am your truly, Dr. W. S. Chapman, formerly 1st Lt. M. C. [Medical Corp?]
September 8th, 1919
Dear Mother, [Lila Chapman]
Tad surely enjoys his Guinea pigs, calls it his Male Kitty, and yesterday morning we found 4 little brand new ones, and they were already so big that we let Tad have one to play with, my but he was tickled, today the biggest one is already half grown (24 hours old) I never saw anything grow so fast.  He has them either in his small suitcase or in his small tool chest.  They have been the best pals yet.  Yesterday while fixing Tad's potatoes he felt of them and immediately asked to have the skins on and I put my face next to his and said "Alright".  He thot [sic] a minute then repeated after me out loud "Alright" showing that he had understood what I said.  He waited patiently then for his potatoes and when ready started to eat them and when he found the skins on he informed us that the skins were on.  Every once in a while he seems to get a word but never before showed so plainly that he did.  He already knows directions about he house, hangs back when we start for the bedroom for his afternoon nap or at bedtime.  Can't stand alone yet and gets tired out with a 50 foot walk.
He always has a certain bunch of toys to get out of his pockets when he goes to bed and he puts them under his pillow, and if he should wake up in the middle of the night and ask for them, he never forgets a one.  Pocketbooks and jack-knife and tool box and kite string (and male kitty part of the time). He visits with us a great deal and tells us all about it, and pretends like children do.  He takes his pistol and says "I shoot you, hands up", then wants to feel to see whether your hands are up.  He stands up on his wobbly legs and shows us how American soldier salutes (quick and snappy) then how Dodo (German) soldier salutes (slow and lazy) and tells us which is which.  [Evidently there was a certain degree of propaganda during World War I about the enemy. – JB]
He has not forgotten a thing about the auto.  Likes to turn it off and get his feet on the clutch or brake and move the hand levers.  And of course he demands a ride most every day.  Along towards night he gets pretty tired and hard to take care of.
For more about John Macy and Anne Sullivan Macy see http://www.afb.org/annesullivan/loveletters.asp  Sadly, somewhere along the line I got rid of the book they sent. Perhaps it's out there somewhere in a used book store waiting to be discovered?  I do not remember if it had an inscription on the flyleaf, but it would have been an early edition, if not a first edition. - JB

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Medical History of illness resulting in deafness and blindness

Medical Notes of Dr. Winthrop Severance Chapman (M.D.) on the illness of his son, Winthrop Clark Chapman (Tad) as he wrote them. My insertions are in italics.

History of Case

Past History: A very acute and severe follicular tonsillitis about April 1st 1919 with considerable swelling of the glands of the neck.

Present trouble began May 22nd when about six P.M. he developed a fever which continued high all night and he vomited several times during that night. The next day at noon face was pinched and drawn and anxiousBlooked like death then, examination then showed heart slow, irregular and intermittent. In moving about at that time he had two short convulsions. White Blood count 110,000; Reds 5,000,000; Hem 70, considerable albumin in urine, no casts. At 10 P.M. discovered that neck was somewhat stiff and Kernigs sign present. Cries out when moved, seems to be sore all over to the touch.

May 24th (2nd day) Spinal Puncture showed fluid under much pressure, turbid, pus and many meningococci. 15 cc serum given. Heart the same. Left hand swollen. Hemorrhagic spot in conjunctiva and all over body.

May 25th (3rd day) Drowsy and stupid. Puncture and serum given. [Puncture=spinal tap and the serum was sulfa which was an experimental medicine at the time. It was so new they did not know the dosage to use.]

May 26th (4th day) Much improved will smile but watches your lips. Seems to be deaf.

May 27th (5th day) Much improved B laughs today. Given watch to his ears he says "Watch won't go". Later in day says "Daddie, I want some ears". Serum given. Spinal fluid still under high pressure.

May 29th (7th day) Eyes bloodshot.

May 30th (8th day) Eyes about the same. No serum given today. No puncture.

May 31st (9th day) Left eye clear in morning then both eyes become much more inflamed in afternoon.

June 1st (10th day) 9 A.M. a spell of delirium lasting about 10 minutes (we are sure now that this spell was terror instead of delirium) Could not be quieted. Cried for daddie and muddee. Probably sight was now gone and he found it so when he woke up. No puncture or serum given.

June 2nd (11th day) 7 A.M. Another spell like yesterday only worse. Today does not seem to see. At noon and for all afternoon was restless, and at times delirious, pains in head, pulls hair.

Diagnosis of relapse made. Serum given at 4:30 P.M. 43 cc now turbid fluid removed under high pressure and again showing meningococci.

June 3rd (12th day) Puncture made and fluid clearer than yesterday. Does not seem to see, but eyes will blink to sudden light. Considerable iritis present. Serum given.

June 4th Spinal fluid clearer than any yet, serum given.

June 5th (14th day) Spinal puncture and serum followed by cyanosis and vomiting and cold perspiration.

June 10th to June 21st Profuse perspiration continually, body cold, clammy and about June 15th pulse became irregular and intermittent and weak, heart became enlarged and liver now became extended to below umbilicus. Cyanosis most of the time. From June 16th to 23rd pulse could not be correctly counted at the wrist.

June 17th (26th day) Urine now 6 oz. per 24 hours and continued from 6 to 9 oz. per 24 hours for the next month (one day 3 oz. and one day 4 oz.)

June 18th Face swollen. X-ray of heart shows much dilatation (4,7/8 inches across)

June 20th Rash on chest and legs (probably toxic hemorrhages)

June 22nd X-ray shows lobar pneumonia on right posterior chest. Respirations now 43 to 56 and continued so until June 30th and then went down gradually to 20 on July 8th.

June 24th 60cc spinal fluid removed. Clear, negative.

June 25th Right leg swollen and painful and purpura rash. [Purpura (from the Latin, purpura, meaning "purple") is the appearance of red or purple discolorations on the skin that do not blanch on applying pressure. They are caused by bleeding underneath the skin. Purpura measure 0.3-1 cm, whereas petechiae measure less than 3 mm, and ecchymoses greater than 1 cm. This is common with typhus and can be present with meningitis caused by meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia. In particular, meningococcus, a Gram-negative diplococci organism, releases endotoxin when it lyses.]

June 27th (36th day) Left arm purpura with swelling and painful arm

June 28th Oedema [swelling] of body

June 29th General anasarca [also known as "extreme generalized edema”-Wikipedia] continued until July 6th

July 5th Left leg was swollen tight. Face very cyanosed [blue]

About July 1st Liquid intake limited to 20 oz per 24 hours.

July 6th and 7th. Is brighter, dropsical [edema] condition somewhat better and the liver a little smaller. Liver has extended to crest of ilium and two inches below umbilicus on left side.

July 9th X-ray heart shows 4,1/4 inch across

July 10th Oedema all gone and bronchial pneumonia of left chest post. Respirations up to 40 and July 11th were 46 when a definite pneumonia showed over post left chest.

Does not seem as well in any respect, face swollen

July 9th Water limited to 12 oz per 24 hours There has been much albumin and casts in urine but none now. P.SP. on July 9th I 90cc 25% II 35cc 18% Total 43%

On July 11 liquid limited to 16 oz

Chlorides July 8th 5.62 gms July 10th 0.612 gms July 11th 0.68 gms July 12 1.10 gms July 14th 2.09 gms per 24 hours.

July 16th Blood creatinine 1.55 per 100 cc

Now passing more urine and seems on the way to recovery.

Oct 22nd Is now able to stand alone and walk, but does not do so for he is afraid to try. But this past week he has gained much in strength.

Statement of Purpose

My purpose is to share information about the Tadoma Method and Tad Chapman who was the first to use the method exclusively to communicate throughout his lifetime. Tad was consistently compared with Helen Keller throughout his lifetime and, to this day, if I tell someone he was blind and deaf I get a response of "Oh, like Helen Keller". His achievements, however, were very different from hers. Tad achieved a normal life away from the spotlight. In his youth he was put in front of audiences to demonstrate the Tadoma Method and to show that someone who is deaf-blind can live a productive life. In his young adulthood his parents became aware that this was affecting the quality of his life and they sought other alternatives and goals. It is my hope that by sharing his story I can bring to light his germinal contribution to the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as introduce today's families with deaf-blind children to possibilities they may not have previously considered.

Currently, it is my plan to let the letters and newspaper articles speak for themselves by scanning and/or transcribing the letters that my grandfather wrote as he searched for answers and sought support as well as the responses to his inquiries. My grandfather, Winthrop Severance Chapman, kept carbon copies on onionskin sheets (usually half sheets) of all the letters he wrote - or at least all the letters he wrote regarding my uncle. I may or may not comment upon them. I'm not a writer. I was formerly a word processor and copy editor, so discovering my "voice" as a writer may be part of this process. I DO RESERVE ALL RIGHTS TO THE MATERIAL SHARED HERE. It is my intention to publish the contents in some form, perhaps a book, in the future, so please regard the material as copyright.