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.