For audio version, click on the following link after adjusting volume. The blind can receive the audio as an email attachment. See bottom of post.
Audio: I Was A Seeing Eye Dog
I have said the following before. If you have heard it before look at it like this. I have told myself this story so many times and I continue to listen to myself.
My first job was a seeing eye dog, a dog trained be a blind person’s eyes. School was never a problem for me, learning wise. I skipped school a lot in the early grades. I was my father’s seeing eye dog. We went all over Memphis. Door to Door. Selling whatever was portable, marketable, profitable, I learned more in a day working with Dad than I did in a week or month at school. The main thing was responsibility. The second thing was not clear to me until I was old enough to go digging for growth gold in the Revery Mountains. E.g. two words my father never said to me, “You can’t.” The absence of, “You can’t” does not mean more freedom more than it means more responsibility.
My second job was Communications Facilitator. When my blind father wasn’t working and often when he was he listened to radio. Do not think that he did not do physical tasks. When I was ten, my father, my older brother, and I built a store. Then my dad ran it. I have a clear photograph in my head. We were putting the roof on the building. It was around ten at night. Dad stood stark in the strong night construction light. Dad was moving along the roof nailing sheeting. When I tell you he could fetch, position and drive a nail faster than a carpenter with sight, I am telling you the truth.
I, of course, was frightened. Dad was right on the edge of the roof. One wrong move and he was over the side. My father taught my brother and me this. In only one situation should we help Dad when he did not ask for it. That was when he was in danger that he could not possibly know about. Example: someone throwing a baseball that goes wild; it’s headed for him. We understood that our job was to prevent that ball’s reaching him.
But, I was going to tell you about my second job. As I said, Dad listened to the radio. All the news, news discussion programs, information programs, people programs like Arthur Godfrey. On Sunday, he never missed hearing, “This is Billy Graham coming to you from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota.” Graham had such an unusually inflected and clear Carolina voice. It was electric.
The problem was the invasion of the Television. Dad still listened to the radio during the day. But, at night the communications medium became the cyclops. Most people did not think about the importance of sound effects for radio. Not for Billy Graham. No problem there. But, at night you had Boston Blackie, Gang Busters, Amos and Andy and the program that almost totally depended on good sound effects, The Shadow. When TV came in, hundreds of sound effects professionals were out of jobs. But, one young kid was just entering the profession. ME! My job was to know when verbiage needed to be added to a program without interfering with the verbiage already there. “The sniper has the target in his sights.” But, instead of, “The crook is accelerating his pace to reach the exit but, the cop is in pursuit, trying to close the gap” I had to supply the sound of the crook’s footsteps and simultaneously supply the cop’s different sounding footsteps. Both sets of footsteps had to be accelerating but, the cop’s perhaps a little faster.
I was no match for the old radio pros but, during my years of employment as a communications facilitator, I think I deserved an Emmy for at least one season. And frankly, we did not watch TV that frequently. We had a lot of other work to do and communications facilitator was just one job out of many.
Dad was an only son. Six sisters. They grew up in Faulkner Country near Oxford, Mississippi. His father had a large farm and was quite successful as a builder. Dad’s sisters married into money. They would send Dad money if he asked. I opined in those years of growing up that his primary problem was “reluctance to ask.”
The sisters were scattered all over the Deep South except for one wild one who, enchanted with theater placed her bets on New York. Aunt May would send a letter once in a while asking how I was doing in school and suggesting that Dad let me come live with her in Florida so she could ensure I got the best education her money could buy. Dad would ask me if I wanted to go down there and live with Aunt May and be well cared for. I would tug the uppers of my socks down over the heels to cover the hole and reply, “Nawsuh, I have several projects I need to get done.” I was reluctant to ask too. He knew I knew very well that a good seeing eye dog doesn’t forsake responsibility and wonder off down the road just because the smell of better dog food is in the air.
PS If you know a blind person who would enjoy hearing me read my posts from this and other of my sites and it would be easier receiving and playing podcasts as email attachments I would be pleased to add that person to our email distribution. Leave a comment after this post.
Be well, be a well,
“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we DO know that just ain’t so.” — Artemus Ward