Editor's Introduction

In the early and mid 1930s, when I was a boy in grade school, I dearly loved to read poetry—or, more properly speaking, have poetry read to me. And my teachers often obliged. One of my favorites was a poem by Eugene Field called the "Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat." Although it will never be considered a classic, I liked it. It begins like this:

"The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
‘Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’other had slept a wink!"

The poem goes on to tell how the cat and dog had an awful fight and concludes by giving the outcome:

"But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!"

Thus, we come to the title of this book, Like Cats and Dogs. Maybe I chose it because I once had a dog that I dearly loved, or because I currently have some adorable kittens—or maybe because of the well-known saying about people fighting like cats and dogs. Regardless of the reason, the title is chosen, and we come to a question:

Exactly how do cats and dogs behave toward each other?

If they don’t understand each other, they fight "like cats and dogs." But if they have the opportunity to get acquainted, they can live in harmony and become good friends.

As it is with cats and dogs, so it can be with the blind and their sighted neighbors. There can either be harmony and friendship or misunderstanding and frustration. This little volume (the twelfth in the Kernel Book series) is meant to promote understanding, the ultimate framework of all true friendship and mutual respect.

As with past Kernel Books, the stories here are real-life experiences, told by the blind persons who lived them. The one exception is the article by Theresa House, who is the sighted wife of a blind man. Her parents feared that a blind person could never be an adequate husband for their daughter, and certainly not a suitable father for her children. You will see how it is turning out as they live their lives and raise their family.

As a matter of fact, marriage and children are major themes of this book. Bruce Gardner, blind and preparing to be a lawyer, dates and falls in love with a young sighted woman. She has questions, and so do her father and mother.

And there is the matter of blind parents and sighted children. As the boy and girl grow up, how do they feel? Do they think their parents can take care of them—and how do the parents feel? What ambitions do the parents have for their children?

There is another theme relative to children (blind children). Many are not given the chance to learn Braille. What does that do to them, and how do they feel about it as they come to adulthood?

There is more—the article I wrote about the difference between the sounds and smells of today and sixty years ago, the story about a blind kitten (told by the owner, of course, not the kitten), an account of a blind woman’s experience with pouring coffee, and much else. But I think I have told you enough to give you an inkling of what to expect.

At the core, all of the people represented here are talking about the same thing. What they are saying is this:

In everything that counts we who are blind are just like you. As you read, you will recognize yourself in the story of our experiences. We laugh and cry, work and play, hope and dream, just like you. And although we don’t forget that we are blind, we don’t constantly think about it either. We are concerned with the routine business of daily living— what we plan to have for dinner, the latest gossip, and the current shenanigans in Washington.

Around fifty thousand people become blind in this country each year. That means that it may happen to you, a member of your family, a neighbor, or a friend. So we want you to know what blindness is like—and, more to the point, what it isn’t like. That is why we are producing the Kernel Books. We hope you will find this volume both informative and interesting. If you do, we will have accomplished our purpose. We want to live in harmony with our neighbors—not the way most people think cats and dogs live.

Kenneth Jernigan
Baltimore, Maryland