VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind--it is the blind speaking for themselves
2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, Calif.
THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Published monthly in Braille and distributed free to the blind by the National Federation of the Blind, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
Inkprint edition produced and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind, 2652 Shasta Road, Berkeley 8, California. Subscription rate--$3.00 per year.
EDITOR: KENNETH JERNIGAN, 329 Insurance Exchange Building, Des Moines 9, Iowa.
News items should be addressed to the Editor. Changes of address and subscriptions should be sent to the Berkeley headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind.
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National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Open Letter to Monitor Readers
Fundraiser Withdraws--Greeting Card Program Suspended
by Jacobus tenBroek
Minutes of the NFB Executive Committee Meeting
"You Wouldn't Kid Us, Would You, George?"
by Kenneth Jernigan
Card and McDaniel Caught Red-Handed and Foiled in Arkansas
by John Taylor
Excerpts from an Editorial
by Jacob Fried
A Letter from Texas
Another Blind Teacher in the Public Schools
Blind Cricket Farmer Big Success
A Kentucky Resolution
A Letter from West Virginia
The reason for the lateness of this edition of the Monitor will be explained fully in the following pages. It has been necessary to eliminate or shorten almost every article which was originally scheduled for this issue. It is most regrettable that this is so, and I apologize to the readers for having to leave out so much constructive and worthwhile information in order to devote space to the disgraceful brawl in which we find ourselves. Yet, developments have left me no alternative.
The plight of the Federation is now desperate. Because of the continued campaign of agitation and disruption by the Free Press Association (George Card being the latest addition to the group), the Federation's fundraiser has decided that he can no longer take the risks involved in raising money for us. This means that almost all Federation income will now cease. The present issue of the Monitor will be the last issue--at least for many months, maybe forever. Other Federation activities will also grind to a halt.
It has been observed many times during the past three years of our civil war that a house divided cannot stand. The house of the Federation is now falling in ruins about our ears. While the members of the Free Press faction have glibly talked of "democracy" and "reform," what they have really accomplished is the virtual destruction of our movement. One can only hope that at long last the rank and file members of the Federation throughout the country will rise in righteous and terrible anger to expel from their midst every last member of the Free Press faction because of what they have done to our movement. It is probably already too late, but the effort must be made.
What a cynical mockery the Free Press propaganda has been! "Reform" indeed! Revolution and subversion are as harmful and destructive today as they have always been, even though they masquerade in the trappings of democracy.
If the Federation dies, we will not see such an organization again in our lifetime. Let no one now talk of compromise or conciliation. We have virtually compromised and conciliated ourselves to death already. The time has come for every true Federationist to put on his armor and go forth to battle. It will do the Free Pressers little good to try to explain away or apologize for the ruin they have caused. Let them now answer as best they can to the blind of the nation.
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by Jacobus tenBroek
President, National Federation of the Blind
Bernard Gerchen, head of Federated Industries of St. Louis--the NFB's fundraiser since 1953--has announced the immediate suspension of all mailings on our behalf and the indefinite withdrawal of his organization from its fundraising activities for the National Federation.
Mr. Gerchen's announcement was made to the regular meeting of the NFB Executive Committee at Chicago on November 26. It was subsequently formalized in a telegram to me, the contents of which are set forth below.
The decision of the fundraiser was made and adhered to despite earnest and vigorous efforts by the president, and by the entire Executive Committee, to dissuade Mr. Gerchen and his associates.
Following that announcement, immediate consideration was given to the feasibility of alternative methods and sources of fundraising. It is, however, clear that the same factors which induced the withdrawal of Federated Industries would be governing in the case of any other fundraiser--even in the unlikely event that the Federation should be able to find another firm willing to undertake the full burden of financial risks without any capital investment or other obligation on the part of the Federation and with comparable monetary returns to us.
At the NFB's Miami convention last July, I announced that the fundraiser had given warning, as of that date, of his intention to withdraw unless the Federation were able to resolve its ruinous dissension and to regain its former stability and reliability. My announcement was ridiculed and disparaged at the convention by members of the minority faction; it has since been vitriolically condemned as an empty political threat by me, while at the same time the faction alists have continued and even increased the scope of their attacks upon the greeting card program as well as upon our other policies. The present decision of the fundraiser is the direct fruit of that campaign.
The causes which have impelled Mr. Gerchen's decision, as his telegram makes clear, involve both attacks upon him personally and increasing conditions of instability within the Federation. The personal attacks began with the open aspersions cast upon the fundraiser by George Card at the November, 1959, meeting of the Executive Committee, and have culminated in the recent accusations by Alma Murphey in Missouri. The broader assaults upon the decisions of our conventions and upon the national administration commenced with the formation of the McDaniel-Boring axis in 1957, and carried on through numerous activities of the past three years, have found latest expression in the country- ide campaign of agitation conducted by George Card.
The impact of the indefinite suspension of fundraising activities, upon the NFB as upon most of its state affiliates, is of course drastic and incalculable. Since some three-quarters of our state affiliates have no other source of income than the greeting card disbursements, their programs and activities will perforce be brought to a virtual halt. The states will, of course, receive the normal disbursement covering the calendar year 1960; but this income will need to be carefully husbanded and largely held in reserve, since no further disbursements can be anticipated.
The National Federation itself will immediately undertake a sweeping curtailment of its activities on all fronts:
1. Top priority will be given to the advancement of our legislative program. Accordingly, the Washington office will remain open as long as possible, and John Nagle will be retained on the staff;
2. The research staff member, Floyd Matson, in the Berkeley office, will be released from full time employment and the clerical staff and administrative costs will be cut in half;
3. Expenses in connection with the treasurer's office in Springfield, Illinois, will be cut in half;
4. The Des Moines office will be closed, and Paul Kirton and the secretarial help released;
5. The Monitor will cease to be published, except for the December issue and perhaps one issue thereafter to be published some time during the coming year;
6. Most other program items will be virtually eliminated;
7. No grants will be made by the Federation to the state affiliates after the January payment of the 1960 share of the greeting card income.
Whether or not the fundraiser will ever again renew his association with us probably depends upon whether our organization can regain the unity and concerted purpose which it once possessed. In the face of the continuing agitation of the Card-McDaniel group within the organization, any prediction of such a revival in the foreseeable future would indeed be foolhardy.
The full significance of this critical decision by the fundraiser may be summed up in a few words. What all of our external enemies together have been unable to do to us through the past twenty years, we have now done to ourselves' we have brought our organization to the brink, of ruin.
Western Union Telegram from Federated Industries, St. Louis, Missouri, November 29, 1960:
Dear Dr. tenBroek:
This will serve as a formal notification of the announcement made at the Executive Committee meeting this past weekend. Federated Industries feels it necessary to exercise our option under the contract dealing with "matters not within our control," and we are suspending all mailings as of now.
We feel that it would be wrong to raise any money for the Federation until the chaos and instability that now exists is resolved. You and I along with the Executive Committee have always been aware of the high degree of responsibility that we have to the public. It is the public who supports the Federation and its programs, and any situation that arises that can interfere with the program makes it necessary for us to reexamine our position regarding fundraising.
We feel that such a situation has arisen since the Miami convention. It is obvious from what we have seen and heard that a minority group within the organization is dedicated to dissension and politics to a degree that we feel can impair the work of the majority. It is also unfortunate that a minority group has decided to make political use of the fundraising program as well as attempting to hamstring the organization's administration.
Attacks on and criticism of the fundraising program by itself would not be sufficient reason for suspending. We are aware of and deeply appreciate the vote of confidence given the fund campaign at the national convention. We are aware of the fact that the Executive Committee has no complaint with how we operated in both the letter and the spirit of our contract. The combination however of stepped-up political attacks on fundraising, the constant sowing of dissension and confusion, and the attempt to render the administration impotent in carrying out program objectives has made our position untenable and we feel that it is proper to retire until such time as our position has been clarified.
We cite the following items on fundraising which we feel interfere with the organization as well as with fundraising itself:
1. The Georgia resolution pertaining to greeting cards.
2. The Maryland resolution on fundraising and Federated.
3. The Braille Free Press Association attacks.
4. The Illinois problem beginning with Doctor Burson withdrawing his name during a mailing and terminating with Illinois suspending itself and threatening legal action.
5. The Tennessee withdrawal on greeting cards.
In addition to these items there are also other factors such as the statements made by Mr. David Krause and also the Missouri Federation attempting to inject Federated Industries and me personally into a political situation within the organization.
All of the above would certainly indicate a lack of stability within the organization. If the Federation wishes us to resume our campaign work at some future time, we must be assured that we are dealing with an organization that is reasonably united in not only the goals and objectives they are trying to reach but there must also be some accord in how to implement the programs necessary to realize the goals and objectives.
We have always believed that the Federation has a vital role to play in its field of helping all of the blind in this country. We have a feeling of pride in helping contribute in our small way to the many fine things that the Federation has accomplished. It is unfortunate that there is dissension and disunity at a time when the Federation is making rapid advancement, but since we feel that this is the present situation it is our feeling that we are meeting our responsibility to the public, to the organization and to our firm by discontinuing the mailings.
Very truly yours,
For Federated Industries
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November 26, 1960
North Park Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
The meeting was called to order at 9:10 a.m. by the president. All members of the committee were present.
The president first reviewed the agenda and announced that the items listed would be taken up in order after the discussion of an emergency announcement he wished to make.
The announcement was that Federated Industries, the NFB's fundraiser, had suspended the contract for an indefinite period and consequently that there would be no spring 1961 mailing and no subsequent mailings for the foreseeable future. The president stated that the fundraiser had given him notice of suspension the evening before and that the reasons given for the suspension were: the extreme instability in the Federation and the consequent unreliability of the Federation from the point of view of the business arrangement; the increase of such instability since Miami, particularly as related to George Card's campaign of disruption throughout the country for the unconditional readmission of the suspended states and the driving from office of the present administration; and the specific attacks by members and leaders of the Card-McDaniel minority faction upon the greeting card program and upon the motives and reputation of the fundraiser and leaders in the administration. The president reviewed the drastic consequences to the Federation of the suspension of the greeting card contract and the immediate drastic administrative and program retrenchment that would be necessary on a national and state level.
The president called on the fundraiser, Mr. Bernard Gerchen, to make a statement. Mr. Gerchen said that his activity as fundraiser for the organization was made impossible by the strife within the organization. He emphasized three specific reasons for his withdrawal: moral, personal, and financial. Morally he felt unjustified in appealing to the public for funds which were used in part on internal organizational warfare. Personally he was unwilling to endure the attacks upon himself and his program. Financially no businessman could take the risk of mailing for an organization in virtual chaos and at the verge of complete disintegration. He emphasized that he was merely making an announcement of his withdrawal, that he had no conditions to state for the resumption of the mailing, that he made no demands upon the organization.
Lengthy discussion by the members of the executive committee followed Mr. Gerchen's statement. Questions were raised and comments made about the steps that could be taken to restore the Federation to reasonable unity and regain relations with the fundraiser. Mr. Gerchen repeated again that his announcement was not made in a political context for the purpose of securing conditions or commencing negotiations but that he was simply making an announcement to the executive committee. He said he realized that the executive committee lacked the power to prevent the disruptive activity of the minority faction and to restore the Federation to orderly activity.
John Taylor reported on behalf of the Committee on the Re-admission of Suspended Affiliates, pursuant to the instruction of the Miami convention. The report follows:
"At its 1960 convention in Miami, Florida, the National Federation of the Blind suspended six state affiliates for conduct inconsistent with the democratic nature and purposes of the Federation. After taking this action, the convention also instructed the executive committee to prepare a statement of conditions which each suspended state affiliate must meet in order to be reinstated as an affiliate in good standing. In compliance with this mandate, these conditions for reinstatement have been approved by the executive committee.
"Affiliates in good standing should comply with these conditions in order to retain their standing. Each suspended affiliate, however, must give written assurance of its willingness and desire to comply with all conditions established by the executive committee and it must satisfy the executive committee that it intends to accept its responsibility as a part of a democratic organization. In accordance with these general guidelines the following specific conditions must be met by each suspended state affiliate prior to its reinstatement:
"1. The affiliate must commit itself by resolution, by-law or constitutional provision not to engage in any conduct or allow its officers or members to engage in any conduct inconsistent with the constitution of the NFB, its code of affiliate standards, its existence, progress, and well-being.
"2. The affiliate must give assurance by resolution, by-law or constitutional provision that it will comply with the majority decisions of the Federation, on all policy issues. The affiliate must give a similar assurance that it will participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions in the manner established by the NFB convention or pursuant to the directives of the duly elected officers of the Federation. The affiliate must give further assurance that it or its members will not obstruct the execution of such policies in any way.
"3. The affiliate must commit itself not to indulge in any ef- forts to alienate members of Congress or other public officials from the Federation or any of its duly established policies and programs.
"4. The affiliate must commit itself not to indulge in attacks upon the officers, committeemen, leaders and members of the Federation or upon the organization itself outside of the organization, and must not allow its officers or members to indulge in such attacks. This commitment in no way interferes with the right of an affiliate or its officers or members to carry on a political campaign inside the Federation for election to office.
"5. The affiliate must commit itself not to interfere with the organizing activities of the Federation or the affiliates of the Federation.
"6. The affiliate must commit itself not to join or support, or allow its officers or members to join or support any permanent or temporary organization inside the Federation, which has not received the sanction and approval of the Federation. This general proposition means, for example, that the Free Press Association must be dissolved insofar as it is composed of or supported by affiliates of the Federation or officers or members of affiliates of the Federation.
"7. Each suspended affiliate must submit such financial records as may be required by the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance."
John Taylor moved and Anita O'Shea seconded the adoption of the committee report. The vote was 11 to 2 in favor. Victor Buttram voted no, and Don Cameron, after first voting yes, changed his vote to no in the afternoon session.
John Taylor moved and Russell Kletzing seconded that the executive committee recommend to the convention a set of propositions similar to those stated in the above report applicable to all states. The vote was 11 to 2 in favor. Victor Buttram and Don Cameron voted no.
The president reported that he had received from the Illinois Federation resolutions adopted at the October 15 convention suspending the active participation of the Illinois Federation as an affiliate of the NFB, and serving an ultimatum upon the NFB that steps of outright disaffiliation would be taken if the NFB did not discontinue its greeting card mailing into the state and if the NFB did not indicate submission to the ultimatum within thirty days. The president said that he had received an arrogant letter from President Robert O'Shaughnessy of the Illinois Federation postponing the deadline of the ultimatum until after the November executive committee meeting of the NFB. Victor Buttram stated that Mr. O'Shaughnessy's letter was not arrogant, whereupon the letter was read as follows:
"Dear Dr. tenBroek:
"In our Resolution dated October 15, 1960, we advised you that we expected a reply as to the discontinuance of Greeting Card mailing into Illinois within thirty (30) days.
"We have since learned that the National Federation of the Blind is holding an Executive Committee Meeting on November 26th in Chicago, and we are sure that this matter will be discussed and decided upon by the Executive Committee; therefore, we are granting an extension of time and will expect your reply on or before December 1, 1960.
Illinois Federation of the Blind Executive Committee
By: Robert O'Shaughnessy, President"
At the conclusion of the reading of the letter the president stated that the members of the committee could judge for themselves whether the letter was arrogant. There was no further discussion on the point. The president said that he was not sure that the Illinois executive committee had the authority to postpone the deadline since the resolution passed by the Illinois convention fixed the deadline and vested no discretionary authority in the Illinois executive committee.
Comment was made to the effect that it was strange that the Illinois Federation would take such action in view of the fact that the Illinois delegation at the Miami convention had voted for the motion passed by a large majority vesting in the NFB executive committee the sole power to determine into what states the NFB would mail greeting cards and specifically denying to any state the right to withdraw from the greeting card mailing. Victor Buttram first denied that Illinois had so voted but eventually admitted that they did. Many members of the executive committee commented on the impossibility of maintaining a national organization if the individual affiliates are thus allowed to flout the decisions of the majority and their own votes at national conventions and to serve ultimatums upon the national body.
John Taylor moved and Russell Kletzing seconded:
1. That the executive committee determines that the Illinois Federation has suspended itself and can only be reinstated by the national convention, and
2. That the ultimatum given by the Illinois Federation be rejected and that the NFB continue to mail into Illinois at its discretion.
This motion passed 11 yes, Victor Buttram voting no, and Emil Arndt abstaining.
Clyde Ross reported on behalf of the Committee on Admission of Members at Large. The committee proposed the adoption of a form for individual members and the procedure for admission as follows:
Application for Members at Large in the NFB
Are you legally blind?
Have you applied for membership in the NFB affiliate in your state?
Were you accepted?
If not, why? (In your opinion)
Dues from January 1st to December 31st of current year are to be enclosed with applicant's application.
I hereby agree to abide by the provisions of the NFB constitution.
1. The president shall appoint a secretary in charge of the admission of members at large. This secretary shall make the determination of acceptance.
2. The secretary may verify the information submitted by applicants when necessary.
3. Anybody requesting membership may receive a membership blank by communicating with the secretary in charge of memberships at large.
4. Publish the procedure for members at large in the Braille Monitor.
After discussion Clyde Ross moved and William Hogan seconded the adoption of the form and procedures. The executive committee unanimously adopted the motion.
The executive committee went into executive session at 2:50 p.m. to hear a confidential report from the president. The committee concluded its executive session and resumed its regular order of business at 3:45 p.m.
Russell Kletzing, chairman of the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance, presented a revised budget for 1961. The budget was based on a carry-over of $50,000 plus anticipated income of $15,000. This figure contrasted with the 1960 budget figure of $227,000.
President tenBroek explained that as a result of the reduced income and resources of the organization the following administrative changes would be put into effect immediately should the proposed budget be adopted:
1. No grants would be made by the Federation to the state affiliates after the January payment of the 1960 share of the greeting card income;
2. Top priority would be given to the advancement of our legislative program. Accordingly, the Washington office would remain open as long as possible, and John Nagle would be retained on the staff;
3. The research staff member, Floyd Matson, in the Berkeley office, would be released from full time employment and the clerical staff and administrative costs would be cut in half;
4. Expenses in connection with the treasurer's office in Springfield, Illinois, would be cut in half;
5. The Des Moines office would be closed, and Paul Kirton and the secretarial help released. (Note: White Cane Week business and other correspondence should henceforth be addressed to John Taylor at his home at 614 36th Street, Des Moines, Iowa);
6. The Monitor would cease to be published, except for the December issue and perhaps one issue thereafter to be published some time during the coming year;
7. Most other program items would be virtually eliminated.
Russell Kletzing moved and John Taylor seconded the adoption of the budget. It was passed unanimously.
John Taylor moved and Russell Kletzing seconded that the 5% of the greeting card receipts (an estimated $11,000) which the Miami convention voted be diverted into the endowment funds, should be held in a special account in the treasury for emergency use. The motion passed unanimously.
John Taylor moved and Eulasee Hardenbergh seconded that the White Cane working capital fund be available to the organization if needed for an emergency. The motion passed unanimously.
Russell Kletzing moved and John Taylor seconded that Illinois's share of the 1960 greeting card money be offset against the $3000 White Cane Week debt owed by Illinois to the Federation as a result of a loan made to Illinois several years ago and that the president was authorized to take legal action if necessary to regain the rest. The motion passed by a vote of 9 to 4. Arndt, Burck, Buttram and Cameron voted against the measure.
Russell Kletzing moved and Don Cameron seconded that the money for the suspended states be held in a special fund pending clarification of their status, that it not be spent and not be disbursed to those states, and that it be subject to convention rule. The motion passed by a vote of 12 to 1 with Victor Buttram voting no.
William Hogan moved and Eulasee Hardenbergh seconded that the $2000 legacy recently received from an individual in California and $1000 of a legacy recently received from a person in Connecticut go to the general fund of the NFB. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Gerchen discussed the position of Federated Industries with regard to some attacks that have been made upon the fundraising organization and Mr. Gerchen himself. He requested the approval of the executive committee to take legal action if necessary against members of the opposition faction. Russell Kletzing moved and Donald Capps seconded that the executive committee approve the taking of necessary legal action by Federated Industries to maintain its integrity against attacks of members, former members, or suspended members of the National Federation of the Blind. The motion passed 9 to 3. Burck, Buttram and Cameron voted against the motion. Arndt passed.
Russell Kletzing moved and Eulasee Hardenbergh seconded that on the day before the 1961 convention the executive committee give opportunity for a full hearing to Maryland on its expenditure of funds. The motion passed unanimously.
The president reported the formation in Washington, D.C., of a new affiliate, the Capitol Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. John Nagle discussed the organization--its present status, its officers, and its goals. John Taylor moved and Eulasee Hardenbergh seconded that the executive committee accept the Capitol Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind as an affiliate. The motion passed unanimously.
The president reported on organization activities in Hawaii. It appeared that an organization in that state would soon be ready for affiliation. Don Capps moved and John Taylor seconded that the president be given authority to accept an affiliate in Hawaii when he was satisfied that a stable, representative organization desired admission. The motion was passed unanimously.
The president discussed the details of the greeting card operation with the Des Moines bank. It was moved by John Taylor and seconded by Russell Kletzing that the executive committee approve the arrangements with the Iowa-Des Moines National Bank as executed by the president. The motion passed unanimously.
Clyde Ross discussed some problems involved in disability insurance. After some comment it was decided that the policy already established by conventions was sufficient in this area.
Clyde Ross brought up the question of homes for the blind. After some discussion Russell Kletzing moved and William Hogan seconded that this matter be referred to the convention in the form of a resolution to establish policy and that, if the president could make sufficient arrangements, there be a panel discussion on this question at the next convention. The motion was passed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
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by Kenneth Jernigan
Ever since the Miami convention of the National Federation last summer, strange and curious things have been taking place across the land. Strangest of all have been the wanderings of that old one-time administration fellow-traveler, George Card. In a last-ditch effort to solve the riddle of George's seemingly irrational behavior, I should like to take this opportunity to address him directly here and now, as man to man--or as Federationist to Free Presser--in the hope of breaking through the barriers of prejudice and spite and bringing about a better understanding of the man and the issues.
As a matter of fact, George, as your hate-spawned campaign of speeches, letters, manifestoes and articles has gathered momentum over recent months--climaxed by your Free Press masterpiece, "The Miami Lynching Party" --the contradictions and distortions in which you have become entangled have grown so grotesque and knotty that they would be downright laughable if they were not so manifestly destructive in their intended effect. In simple truth, George, your ravelled chain of double talk, somersaults and reversals is so transparently ludicrous--while uttered in such a pious and straightfaced manner--that I cannot forebear exclaiming, with all due respect (and with a figurative nudge in the ribs): "George, you old politician, you wouldn't kid us, now would you?"
You know what I mean, in general; but let me cite a minor illustration that comes to mind. You say this about Emil Arndt in your "lynching" article: "At Miami the administration even tried to jettison the Federation's hard-working treasurer, Emil Arndt, who had served us faithfully for twenty years but who had voted consistently for what he believed to be in the best interest of the NFB, regardless of pressures." Ah, George, George--those are fine upstanding sentiments; a real stirring defense of Emil's independence and resistance to pressures. But the words come off somehow a little garbled, because your tongue is in your cheek again. Surely you have not forgotten what you wrote to Dr. tenBroek on April 6, 1958: "I think I had better tell you that Emil was very indiscreet in our recent meeting with Bernie in Springfield. ... I do not know just how you can handle this matter but certainly the next time you see Emil personally you can drop a few general remarks about discreetness." And have you repressed all memory of your advice to the president on May 26, 1958, when you and Bradley Burson were going to Illinois to debate the North Carolina resolution? It was this: "Emil Arndt is also to be called in and I think you had better instruct him pretty definitely on what to say. We can't have any more of that lukewarmness and wobbling that he displayed at Chicago last September."
You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
Well, let's put that aside. I don't wish to dwell on what might be an embarrassment. Let's turn to other more substantial matters; for example, to the main line of your present attack upon Dr. tenBroek. You've been accusing him, of course, of practically every evil thought and sinful action known to man; but if there is one dominant theme it must be that which your lynching article describes as "egomania" and "ruthless autocratic rule." Perhaps the clearest and most persuasive statement you have yet made on this score (I realize you've only begun to hit your stride) was your speech at Joplin, Missouri, on October 15 last. Here's a part of what you said:
"Anyway, some say three, some say four years ago, there began to emerge a certain amount of criticism of some of Dr. tenBroek's actions, which were said to have been rather high-handed. And Dr. tenBroek reacted very violently to these criticisms.... He very much resents having to consult, take the advice, or even to heed the criticism of those whom he considers his intellectual inferiors--and I think he considers nearly all of us (and probably with great justice) to be his intellectual inferiors."
Ah, George, George--you always were a sly one. I don't need to tell you that you've been playing this same tune with only minor variations in all of your recent concert appearances. It must be just about your favorite. Surely on this point you couldn't possibly be clearer or more straightforward. But I am bothered all the same, George, by a nagging doubt; for I seem to recall that until very recently you were just as clear and straightforward on the opposite side of this theme. You remember your letter to Dean Sumner on June 27, 1958? It contained these words: "I have had a great deal of personal contact with Dr. tenBroek all through these years, and I have never known a man who was more open-minded and more ready to listen to advice and suggestions. That is not to say that he is swayed by every changing wind. He has steadily adhered to policies which have been laid down by the conventions but as to the means of best achieving these convention-approved goals, he has been more than happy to take into consideration every point of view."
That was very clear and straightforward, too, George. And so I am bothered. Were you pulling our leg then, or are you pulling it now? You can't really have it both ways, you know. If you admit that you were not telling the truth then, how can we be sure that you are doing so now?
You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
I could go on, of course, quoting passages to the same effect from your justly celebrated articles and editorials in the Braille Monitor, all testifying to the warmheartedness and open-mindedness of our president. (Do you remember "The Flight of an Arrow" or do you now deny any part in the authorship of that piece? ) But I don't wish to stir up painful memories. Let's turn to other matters. You've been making a great to-do these days, in your new campaign against the president, over what you call the "pistol pointed at the heads" of the delegates at Miami --that is, the president's announcement that he would resign if the convention were unable to act in its own defense. But only a year before, George, your attitude was strangely different. When Dr. tenBroek suddenly announced his resignation at Santa Fe, awaiting new elections, you were (according to your Monitor notes on the convention) simply "thunderstruck." You sat there, so you told us, shaken and unable to speak--thinking only of the disastrous consequences such a step would entail for the Federation. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, this had also been your reaction at Boston in 1958, when (so you later wrote) the president disclosed his intention of resigning and warmly urged you to run in his place. It seems you didn't regard that particular threat as a "pistol at the head" of anyone. On the contrary, you wrote as follows about it, in your famous epistle to the "77" of July 11, 1958:
"Dr. tenBroek pleaded with me to make it possible for him to retire and write his books. ...In any event I declined, flatly and finally. There were many good and sufficient reasons for that decision on my part, including my own inadequacy and the precarious state of my health but the most compelling reason was simply this--that, for me, the Federation without Dr. tenBroek at its head, would cease to have any real significance."
Ah, George, George, as I said before, you always were a sly one. Doesn't it strike you as strange that a man who is a tyrant and egomaniac, intent solely on clutching all power forever to his bosom, should act as Dr. tenBroek did at Boston? No doubt his action was most naive and ill-considered (imagine looking on you as a loyal and reliable ally!)--but at whom was the pistol pointing then? Was this the conduct of a power-hungry dictator, as you now make him out to be?
Come on, George, 'fess up now. You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
There's one other thing about this "pistol." You've been affecting a heap of moral indignation and revulsion at the very thought that the president should sink so low as to "threaten" people in the terrible manner you describe. But are you really so revolted, George? Even if your loudly uttered charge had a grain of truth (which it hasn't), would it genuinely shock your moral sensibilities? Let me read to you a letter which you wrote to Victor Buttram on May 25, 1959, in answer to his request for your advice about his prospects of joining the staff of the NFB. Here is the whole letter:
"I have just read your letter of May 22. You are quite right in not making any snap decision in the matter to which you refer. I am sure we will be able to get together at Santa Fe and talk the thing over in considerable detail. I must add now, however, that the matter of security in any Federation job will be affected by the decision which the Santa Fe convention reaches with respect to the present internal dissension in our organization.
"In this connection I want to express to you my deep and heartfelt desire and hope that the Illinois delegation will not again try to introduce any sort of compromise. Dr. tenBroek has been accused of misappropriating Federation funds by the little McDaniel-Boring faction and there is, therefore, nothing to compromise. The convention will have to make its choice between its present elected leadership and those who seek to overthrow that leadership. If the convention supports McDaniel and Boring, most of the tried and true leaders will withdraw from the organization--and that includes me. Any talk of compromise will simply muddy the waters. There is going to have to be a clear-cut decision, one way or the other. Illinois must take its stand without any ifs or buts. Naturally, if Dr. tenBroek and the rest of us withdraw, there will be chaos and no future staff position on the NFB will have any degree of security.
Well, now, George, two things about that letter are right interesting. First, you apparently didn't think it altogether a bad thing to threaten that you might pull out of the organization if you didn't get your way. Second, it wouldn't be just possible, now would it, that you were hinting to Victor that if he didn't vote right and use his influence properly he wouldn't get a job? It couldn't be that you were (how would you say it) "holding a pistol" to old Vic's head, could it? No, of course not. It's a low and mean thing even to hint at such shenanigans on the part of a tried and true leader.
You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
There is another little matter which we ought to clear up--not because it has lain unheeded in the background but because it has been so much in the foreground lately, in so many different ways. I refer, of course, to the confused and confusing matter of your health. The line you are now taking, with great emphasis, is that your physical and medical condition has never been a genuine factor, that it has not ever affected the quality or quantity of your work, and that it is only a phony excuse for firing you--the real reason for that being, of course, your fearless independence and moral courage. For example, this is what you say about it in your lynching article: "Let's set the record straight. In 1956 it was discovered that I have a slowly developing malignancy. It was agreed at that time that this should be kept a secret but it has been the worst-kept secret the Federation has ever had.... So far as my work capacity is concerned, it has not lessened one iota in the past four years. In my own opinion, at least, the quality of that work has not been affected--though Dr. tenBroek will probably maintain otherwise."
As you say, George, let's set the record straight. In July of 1956, when you were in California to attend the San Francisco convention, you underwent surgery and learned for the first time that you had cancer and that it was incurable. From that time until your dramatic defection this year, almost every letter emanating from your office has contained references to your health, graphically revealing how much the subject has been on your mind and how deeply it has affected your thinking and psychology. Every minor ache or pain, every slightest stomach upset, and every cough or cold, apparently causes you to lie awake at night worrying whether it is a sign of further physical deterioration. I say to you in all seriousness that I can understand how this might be so, and I would not bring it up at all except for the fact that you have exploited the subject so shamelessly time and time again. In view of the fact that you have repeatedly used your health as a political weapon to serve your own purposes, one time declaring it to be very good and the next portraying it in direst terms, there is no alternative but to set the record straight.
A few quotations may refresh your memory. On October 1, 1956, you notified Dr. tenBroek that your condition was definitely in-operable, and that you could now be kept going only with heavy dosages of drugs: "Dr. Creevy concurred with Dr. Chisholm in the view that the time for radical surgery has now passed and that a major operation would be futile. He further gave it as his opinion that the present dosage of estrogen is far too small and has been ineffective. He recommended and prescribed a dosage many times stronger." On November 16, 1956, you informed the president that you were really not in bad shape although you had developed a "hive-like reaction to the estrogen and a tendency to tire rather easily" and felt "the necessity of getting out-of-range of the telephone for a few days." In a letter to the president of December 12, 1956, you continued to discuss your health, wondered how long you had to live, and cast doubt on your ability to carry on your normal routines of traveling ("when and if I resume my field work").
On December 31, 1956, you wrote to the president in a way which was becoming standard procedure--making use of the health factor as a contingency in order to duck, postpone, or alter your assignments: "Dear Chick: Replying to your December 28th letter, ...Lacerte needs some intensive education. If my health continues as good as it is now, and if there is enough money in the Federation treasury, I should like to go into this section next April. George." A month later, on January 30, you wrote the president: "Replying to your January 24th letter on the subject of Mississippi, all my plans are tentative--depending on the developments in the greeting card imbroglio and on getting an O.K. from my doctor." On the same day you wrote another letter to the president, which said in part: "I have been enjoying intestinal cramps ever since last Sunday morning and I was beginning to get scared. Just saw my doctor, though, and he assures me it is only intestinal flue. Vast sigh of relief. The doctor cleared the proposed Arizona trip but told me not to work long hours."
Let me interrupt you, George, to ask whether, after refreshing your memory with the following communication, you'd maybe like to withdraw your statement that the quality and quantity of your work have never been affected by health considerations. Here is what you wrote to Dr. tenBroek from Rhode Island on June 6, 1957: "That night I came down with severe chills and fever and with a backache across the kidneys. Impossible to find a doctor so we started off again.... Reached Manchester, New Hampshire, late Saturday afternoon. Hoped for improvement had not come about--quite the reverse. No doctor available so called my own physician in Madison. He diagnosed the symptoms as another attack of kidney infection, similar to the San Francisco attack of last August. Gave local druggist a prescription over the telephone and ordered me to bed for at least forty-eight hours. Darlene had to call Joe Lacerte and explain. Fever did not abate until Monday morning and has been below normal balance of the week. I had to be in New York for the ophthalmologists so we took off about noon.
"I didn't get much sleep Monday night and my appearance at the seven-thirty breakfast meeting added nothing to the luster of my organization. My brain was far from clear.... All of a sudden I heard the chairman's voice saying-- 'and first I am going to call on Mr. George Card, first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind. Mr. Card, you have ninety seconds.'
"Of course I should have demanded to know what I was supposed to do with the ninety seconds. I was caught so short, however, that I just stood up and made some sort of a lame, trite and flat sounding statement that we were interested in the objectives of the committee... Whatever I actually did say was fully as inane as that.... So, after all the trouble and expense of getting there, I completely muffed my chance....
"Last night, (Wednesday), was my speaking date before the Boston chapter and I did not give in until five in the afternoon, when I called Charlie Little and told him I could barely hold up my head and could not face the ordeal."
But, why go on? Your letters of the past four years, as you know better than I, repeatedly tell the same story. Let's pick specimens at random. On September 16, 1959, you were writing: "Dear Chick: I have just read your September 10 letter concerning my attendance at the Vermont convention. I have been having a bit of leg trouble but if it does not get any worse I can make the trip." On February 4, 1960, you were writing to the president: "I had planned to do some work in Georgia on my way to Florida a few weeks ago but I was having a rather bad time physically just then and did not stop." On February 16, 1960, you were writing: "Dear Chick: One week from today on February 23 I will undergo a series of critical tests. If these indicate that it would be safe for me to be away several weeks, I should like to go to Arizona for about a three week period. Both Darlene and I have been unable to shake off very serious bronchial colds and we are both coughing almost continually." As late as July 22, 1960, you were writing: "Dear Chick: I underwent my periodic tests as soon as I reached home--blood, X-ray, etc. The verdict--only the normal amount of deterioration. The abdominal pain has gradually subsided and is now only barely perceptible."
But, I repeat, why go on? The memory of those letters must indeed be painful to you--so painful that you have preferred to forget them and to pretend they never happened. But they did. As you say, the record should be set straight. Again and again you were forced to make tentative instead of definite plans, cancel engagements, and explain to the president the problems you were having. There's nothing, of course, to be ashamed of about this. It wasn't your fault that things were as they were. But why cover it up with a smoke screen of denials and accusations against others? Why seek to rewrite history in the interest of your current political campaign? I think it would be better for all concerned if your health ceased to be a topic of discussion in the present struggle.
Well, let's leave all that, now that we've both set the record straight and turn to matters which are more properly topics for political discussion. Let's talk about the greeting card business. You've been mighty mad about the fact that the NFB president moved the greeting card office from Madison and took it out of your hands. Of course, you were simply concerned for the good of the organization. You told us so. You figured that Dr. tenBroek was not a "practical" man--that he was kind of an egghead, idealistic college prof, living in a great tall ivory tower without any contact with the mean realities of the business world. You, on the other hand,--at least according to your repeated statements--were able to get the very best terms for the NFB and watch out for its interests in dealing with that conniving fundraiser, old Bernie Gerchen.
You stated the case quite well in your "lynching party" article. You put it this way: "... I had negotiated the original contract and all 20 of its subsequent additions. The terms of that contract were extremely favorable to the Federation and some of them were agreed to by Mr. Gerchen with the greatest reluctance. I am well equipped for such hard-boiled negotiations because I have been in some form of tough, highly competitive business all my life.... Dr. tenBroek and Mr. Gerchen tried to persuade the Executive Committee to transfer the processing of Greeting Card mail from Madison to the St. Louis bank where Mr. Gerchen's firm is a heavy depositor.... Dr. tenBroek has now taken it upon himself to transfer the Greeting Card office to Des Moines. Whether he really had the constitutional authority to do this is at least open to question. ..."
It may be, George, that your agitation added to all of the other turmoil kicked up by the Free Press crowd will completely ruin our greeting card mailing. It may be, but that's another thing. What about your argument that it was good business for the mail to be opened in Madison and that if you weren't there to watch it day and night there might be problems? Was it really good business for the Federation to move the greeting card processing from Madison?
Well, let's look at the facts. The transfer from Madison to Des Moines was made during the last few days of August of this year. Nothing changed except the place and method of opening the mail. The literature was the same. Your name was still on the letters. The mail still came to Madison as before. The Madison post office bundled it up into bags and sent it on to the Des Moines bank, which opened and processed it. As far as the public was concerned, nothing had changed. Nothing was different.
Let's look at some comparative figures. As you know, we drop the greeting cards into the mail right after Labor Day. The mail comes in pretty heavy during the months of September and October. By the first of November, or thereabouts, we have usually processed the purchases and accompanying donations on approximately 265,000 boxes of greeting cards. We get all the donations and eighteen cents profit on each box of greeting cards purchased at $1.25. On the first 265,000 units processed in the 1958 fall mailing the Federation got a total of $62,871.70. Of this amount $17,132.54 (27.25%) was reported as donations. In other words the Federation received an average of twenty-three and seven-tenths cents per box of greeting cards for the 265,000 units sold.
On the first 265,000 units processed in the 1959 fall mailing the Federation got a total of $66,008.68. Of this amount $19,961.02 (30.24%) was reported as donations. In other words the Federation received an average of twenty-four and nine-tenths cents per box of greeting cards for the 265,000 units sold.
On the first 265,000 units processed in the 1960 fall mailing the Federation got a total of $76,071.16. Of this amount $32,459.56 (42.67%) was reported as donations. In other words the Federation received an average of twenty-eight and seven-tenths cents per box of greeting cards for the 265,000 units sold. In short, this year (with the bank opening the mail) the Federation did something over $10,000 better than it did last year in Madison on the same amount of merchandise.
You see, George, maybe the old college prof. is not such a poor businessman after all. Maybe he's pretty practical, and you just thought he lived in that tower of ivory.
You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
Well, I'm willing to leave that subject, too. A few other things need talking about. There's another part of the record that needs a mite of straightening out. Here you are nowadays, traveling about the land condemning the action of the Miami convention in suspending six affiliates ("We have done this awful thing to blind people") and demanding their unconditional reinstatement as a body. You say now that there was never anything against any of the suspended states except technical and petty violations, but that in any case the members are not responsible for the actions of their leaders. In your "lynching party" article you put it this way: "There are undoubtedly individual members of the Free Press Association in Louisiana and Oklahoma but the respective state organizations themselves have committed no offenses." You say these things over and over, with utmost sorrow and conviction. But this is not what you said on July 20, this year--after the Miami convention--in a letter to the president. What you said then was:
"I hold no brief for either Maryland or Oklahoma. The former has always been a worthless affiliate and a discredit to the NFB. We could go in there any time and organize a group which could command the respect of the worthwhile blind people of that state. In Oklahoma the organization itself has taken actions for which its members must bear full responsibility."
You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
Those who know you well, George, can only hope that all the people who listen to your impassioned rhetoric on behalf of justice and against sin, between now and Kansas City, do not ever discover what you really think of their mental capacities and their gullibility in the face of cynical appeals to sympathy and sentiment. You gave us your formula--remember?--in a letter to the president on April 8, 1959: "I have been working steadily and, I am confident, very effectively, in soothing the feelings of the real leaders in Illinois.... Some key people in West Virginia and New Jersey needed a bit of buttering up, as well as logical persuasion, and they got it during the past year. It is far better strategy to let the other people appear to be attacking. As my own case demonstrates, beyond any possibility of doubt--the sympathy goes to the one being abused."
Ah, George, George--as I may have said before, you always were a sly one.
Well, I guess there isn't much left to say, George. We who have known you best and admired your talents--we understand. I might just say this in parting: George, old comrade, old buddy, old friend, come off it--it won't wash.
You wouldn't kid us, would you, George?
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By John Taylor
The room was crowded, and the audience was attentive. The place was Joplin, Missouri. The time was October 15, 1960. George Card stood up to denounce the Federation's president and administration. He said that he came as an independent agent, that he was there solely in the interest of preserving the organization he loved.
In solemn, pious tones Mr. Card explained his relationship with the Free Press and its leaders. He said: "I attended the meeting of the six states (the six suspended states) over the Labor Day weekend at Nashville; and I did not join the Free Press Association. I attended for the one purpose of urging them not to form a second national organization at this time. ...I was successful in persuading them not to do anything, at least to await the results of the Kansas City convention in 1961."
This speech and this line of attack were not new for Mr. Card. Ever since late August he has been traveling about the country preaching the same doctrine. Even though in September he suggested to the leader of one of the state affiliates in the west that Dr. tenBroek should be replaced as president by either Clyde Ross or Durward McDaniel, Mr. Card still alleged that he was an independent agent, not a Free Presser. Federationists who have been receiving the Card letters and hearing the Card speeches during the past few months will undoubtedly be shocked to learn what his real connection is and has been with the Free Press movement.
It all came to light when the daring plan which Durward McDaniel and George Card had for Arkansas was uncovered. On the very day before Mr. Card arose in Joplin to declare "I did not join the Free Press Association," Durward McDaniel was sitting down in Oklahoma City to write a letter. The full text of that letter is as follows:
Scales & McDaniel
Suite 303-305 Midwest Building
Oklahoma City 2, Oklahoma
October 14, 1960
I called Kate Cooney last night after talking with you. The Arkansas Federation convention has been postponed until the first weekend in November. She says there are about ten active members in the organization, and she is one of the ten. Ray Penix is in California, near San Diego, teaching school. She says Dick Nelson is the president of the local chapter and the state organization. She also says that Charles Edwards of Conway has become inactive and that Garner Chapman is in poor health and inactive.
I asked Kate to keep quiet about my call. I also asked her to send me a copy of the Arkansas Federation constitution. I want to ascertain what is required for voting membership. With such a small voting group a little organizing effort would be a natural solution to the situation there. However, I have learned that these local people in Arkansas cannot organize others on their own. Two years ago when Frank Palmer ran for president against Penix, he was defeated by a vote of 11 to 6. This happened even though those supporting Palmer had adequate time to get some more votes in. Palmer now lives in Missouri and some of those who voted for him two years ago have become inactive.
Under the circumstances, I think Arkansas is worth some attention. What do you suggest as the method of procedure there? If we give too much advance notice, our adversaries will come in and stir things up. I am willing to spend some time on this project, but I think you can work with Nelson more harmoniously than I can. Neither of us may be very popular if the net result turns out to be an enlarged membership which sets him out of office.
There is a little time to plan on this. Please write me about it when you return home. If you have a copy of the current constitution for the Arkansas Federation please send it to me or tell me what the pertinent provision is.
I don't know where Keystone, Iowa is. If it is not out of the way too much you might consider talking with Dr. H. F. Schluntz en route home from Joplin. DEM
The Free Press has never been able to carry out any of its purposes with much success, even intrigue and deception. When the national administration and the Arkansas leaders learned of the Card-McDaniel plot, they took quiet and speedy action. Rather than wait for the Free Pressers to come in and disrupt the convention, the Arkansas affiliate (without fuss and fanfare) simply moved its convention forward to the weekend of October 30.
The meeting was held at the Lafayette Hotel, and NFB first vice president John Taylor was on hand as national representative. The Arkansas people (and, incidentally, there were many more than ten present) seemed to disagree with Mr. McDaniel about their ability to organize their own affairs. The convention transacted its usual business, considered a variety of legislative matters, and unanimously (somehow, the McDaniel letter seemed to be a unifying force) re-elected Dick Nelsen as president for the coming year. Dick will also be the delegate to the Kansas City convention of the NFB, and Olin Butler will be the alternate delegate. Other officers elected were: first vice president, Olin J. Butler; second vice president, Garner Chapman; secretary, Christine Taylor; and treasurer, Gladys Nelsen. Executive committee members at large were: Mrs. T. M. Routh, Mrs. Foncey Terry and Harry A. Kendall.
One wonders whether Mr. Card will continue his "crusade" around the country, still pretending that he is not a Free Presser. One also wonders what desperate justification will be attempted to explain away the McDaniel letter's cynical and condescending attitude of contempt for the right and dignity of state and local affiliates. This is the same brand of Free Press "democracy," "freedom of choice," and "liberation of the people" to which we have become accustomed during the past three years. One also wonders whether Dr. H. F. Schluntz, a respected leader in Iowa, will appreciate the attempt to move him like a pawn on the chessboard of the minority faction. He may very well believe that he is capable of making his own decisions and handling his own affairs without help from Oklahoma City or Madison.
As a postscript to this article it can be reported that Mr. Card showed up in Little Rock on November 5th prepared to attend the Arkansas convention. Imagine his surprise when he called Dick Nelsen, only to find that he was too late. The horse had already got away.
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(Editor 's note: The following statements were made by Jacob Fried in the October issue of the Jewish Braille Review. As Mr. Fried points out, the NFB removed its cancer by surgery. Let us hope that the operation was not postponed too long. If the Federation dies, we may never see its like again during our lifetime.)
"The editor attended the annual conventions of the NFB and the American Association of Workers for the Blind. The NFB has finally taken the only course open to it by suspending a dissident faction within its ranks. Of course the opposition party is a vital part of democratic, political life and organization, but the right to oppose and to win adherents to your cause does not countenance slander, libel, and rule or ruin machinations. In order for the NFB to live this cancer had to be surgically excised. In my own biased view the president and leadership of the NFB is the ablest in organization for the blind, and the spark plug and hope of our struggle for the right of the blind to lead normal lives as individuals with a visual disability--lives that give fulfillment to aspiration, personality and talent rather than frustration."
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(Editor's note: The following letter was written to Dr. tenBroek by T. F. Moody of Texas, who will be remembered as one of the courageous individuals who resisted intimidation during the beginnings of our right to organize campaign in 1957. Mr. Moody's words and actions are as courageous and sensible now as they were then.)
"The board of the Lone Star State Federation of the Blind met in Dallas, October 15. At this meeting the board authorized the writing of a resolution reaffirming our faith in you and your administration, and approving your actions at Miami. The authorization for the writing of said resolution was unanimous, a quorum of six out of nine being present. The resolution will be written and will appear in the December Leader...
"The great majority of Lone Star is behind you in the life-and-death struggle with the 'Free Presses.' I intend to do what one man can to see to it that the true feelings of Texas are expressed at national conventions and elsewhere. The Lone Star Leader is serving, and will continue to serve this end.
"I am glad that the Monitor has waded out into the battle. Silence is not a good weapon where the enemy is employing nationwide propaganda. To my way of thinking, the bringing of the Monitor into the struggle was one of the most advantageous side benefits of the suspensions at Miami.
"I feel that it is time for all state affiliates, who believe in majority rule, to stand up and be heard--through letters, through resolutions, and through the pages of their publications. The majority must make it clear to the suicidal, renegade minority that 'THE HOUSE IS DOWN ON YOU!' The majority must let its leaders know 'THE HOUSE IS WITH YOU!' It is equally important that the interested onlookers, who are anxiously watching the struggle, be made aware of the feelings of the majority in this matter.
"You will agree, I am sure, that it is of the utmost importance that factional strife, of the type which NFB has experienced over the past few years, must be brought to an early end. But of even greater importance is the manner in which the strife is brought to an end. The nature of the McDaniel faction makes it mandatory that said group be defeated in a decision which is clear-cut, firm and conclusive--even though NFB temporarily loses a few states. Compromise seems to me to be unworkable and appeasement unthinkable. Appeasement is the cave into which timid men creep to die a miserable, withering death. Further, peace at any price is but a mockery."
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(Editor's note: The following article appears in the Alumni Newsletter of the Oakland Orientation Center for the Blind. It answers once again the ever recurring question: "Can a blind person really teach in the public schools?")
"Don Erickson, 2259 Placentia, Costa Mesa, California. Don is one of the four 6th grade teachers at the Wilson Elementary School in Costa Mesa. Last year he had 34 sighted students. In September he will begin his third year in this district. His work has been very satisfactory because of his ability as a teacher, his principal's understanding and cooperation, good parent support and excellent student relationships. He was not exempt from any of the duties connected with the job because of his blindness. He does yard duty when it is his turn, he is responsible for all of his record keeping--roll book, reports, State Register, correction and grading of papers. 'I use a sighted reader, of course, to check my papers,' Don told me, 'but I have to know exactly what I want, what the pupils should be doing, what their performance should be; I take it from there and pick out individual weaknesses and work on those areas.' Don was given a lower performing group than he had his first year, but the State Achievement Tests in the spring showed a good improvement in his students' work. The confidence Don's principal showed in his ability was reflected when Don was given his share of the 'problem' children. We learned that Don's class was considered one of the best behaved in the school, which certainly speaks well for his ability as a teacher.
"What makes his class well behaved and cooperative? Good discipline is not determined by the teacher's ability to see but by the kind of rapport he is able to build with his pupils. His work is well organized, he expects a high level of performance, he is fair, good humored, confident, he respects his pupils and in return, commands their respect. Many of the parents say that since having Don for a teacher, their children are working better than ever before.
"How does a blind teacher assume playground duty? Don says that during the first few days he oriented himself to the entire location, located the trouble spots, determined where the children should be and what they should be doing in each area. He could tell what the children were doing by the sounds coming from each area. Like all children, they break rules now and then, but Don feels that the children's response to him, when their misconduct is apprehended, is as good, if not better, than it is to many sighted teachers.
"Not long ago, there was a reprint in the local paper about a blind teacher being hired in one of the Chicago suburbs. The administrators thought they had a 'scoop.' They were unaware of any other such placement in the United States. They did not know that there are a number of other blind teachers quietly going ahead doing a good job in various parts of the country. Incidentally, there are about 25 blind teachers in California alone, nearly half of them teaching sighted children in the public schools. The rest are resource teachers who have been added to the staff to help blind children become integrated in the regular class rooms in their own home area.
"Don was blind when he did both his college work and his practice teaching--one more example of what blind people can do if they have the initiative, ability and stamina to work unceasingly toward their own predetermined goals."
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When Donald Cleland of Kimmell, Indiana, went to work one day in May of 1957, he had no idea that his entire life and future were about to be changed. He was working as a telegrapher with the B & O Railroad. Not content with one job, however, he had also taken on a second full-time occupation. Many of the trees around Kimmell were dying because of the elm disease, and Cleland was removing stumps. This particular May morning was no different from many others--until the premature dynamite explosion which punctured one of Cleland's lungs and caused his total blindness.
Two weeks later Cleland left the hospital and began the process of convalescing and planning for his future. It was necessary to move rapidly and decisively. He had a wife and four young children to support, the oldest being nine years old. Donald Cleland had never been one to sit around worrying about his troubles. He had never had time.
After graduating from high school he went to the Army for eighteen months. Then he began his practice of holding down two full-time jobs. His "regular" job was with the B & O, but he always managed to have a "spare-time" job as well, never less than forty hours a week. He ran a sporting goods store. He went on the road doing selling. He tended bar. He went into the timber business. Now he was totally blind, 28 years old, and had no job at all.
He decided to go into the life insurance business, but in line with his old habits he went into a "spare-time" job as well. Always an avid fisherman, he had observed when he was in the sporting goods business that live bait was in much demand. His own experience indicated that crickets were the best live bait to be found. Accordingly he began to breed and sell crickets. Very soon there was no time left for the life insurance, and for the first time in his life Donald Cleland found himself with only one job, handling several million crickets.
In 1958 he was just getting started. He raised only 500,000 crickets during the season. In 1959, 1,000,000. For the 1960 season the capacity was 2,000,000. Cleland proudly states that by 1961 he will have the capacity for raising 5,000,000 crickets during the season.
He has built his business on good quality, competitive prices and hard work. He sells his crickets for $5.00 a thousand, while many of his competitors charge $7.50. He has now constructed a building two stories high and with dimensions of fifty by eighty feet as his "farm." Total blindness does not prevent him from doing the actual work. He can tell when there are enough eggs in a particular container to be set for hatching, and he determines by the feel of the eggs when they are ready to hatch or what care they need.
With Donald Cleland cricket farming is coming to be big business. If he reaches his 5,000,000 capacity next year and sells his product for $5.00 per thousand, he should gross $25,000, at an estimated profit of 40%, or $10,000. Although he has only one "full-time" job he manages to support his wife and his children.
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(Editor's note: The following resolution, which might profitably be adopted by other state affiliates and circulated widely to business and industrial leaders, was passed by the Kentucky Federation of the Blind at its 1960 convention. Under the capable leadership of its president, Harold Reagan, and through the efforts of its alert legislative chairman, Mrs. Pat Vice, the Kentucky Federation has achieved 100% success in its state legislative efforts for the past two sessions. Every bill introduced or sponsored has passed, some of them unanimously. These legislative successes have not been because of the fact that the Federation proposals were non-controversial. Far from it. In one instance, for example, a separate division of services for the blind was sought. The bill was opposed actively by the State Department of Education. It passed anyway.)
"Whereas, today, many blind persons throughout the nation are engaged in useful employment in business and industry; and
"Whereas, there are many other competent blind persons with similar available skills who, if employed, could assist in increasing the productive capacity of the nation and at the same time live useful, happy and normal lives; and
"Whereas, a study by Dr. Douglas Cortland MacFarland at Columbia University, indicates that blind workers in industry are as efficient as their sighted co-workers; and
"Whereas, the same study showed a statistically significant difference in favor of the blind workers in regard to tardiness, and that both their absence and safety records also slightly favored them; and
"Whereas, the blind seek only their just right to have an opportunity to be self-respecting and self-sustaining citizens with consideration only on the basis of their abilities, not rejection for their disability; and
"Whereas, there are few jobs in any office, workshop or factory which require all the faculties of the normal person, merely requiring the proper placement of the right man for the right job; and
"Whereas, the production record of the blind in industry, through out the nation, indicates that it is good business to employ the blind and the other physically handicapped in business and industry if the proper procedures and techniques are used in placing them; and
"Whereas, the Kentucky Division of Services for the Blind, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services , Frankfort, Kentucky, has placement specialists who can assist in securing and training competent blind persons for industrial employment and as operators of vending stands; and
"Whereas, it is the policy of the AFL-CIO that every practical means shall be used to insure equal opportunity in employment for all physically handicapped workers and that the Federation will strive to increase employment opportunities for the physically handicapped through collective bargaining agreements and union-management cooperation,
"Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the convention of the Kentucky Federation of the Blind at the Kentucky Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, on this the 10th day of September, 1960, that the Kentucky Federation of the Blind strongly urges employers to recognize and utilize the wide range of skills and capabilities of the blind for useful, industrial employment and that they include in their agreements with labor adequate provisions for employment of the blind and the other physically handicapped.
"Be it further moved, that our organization urges the leaders of business and industry to promote the establishment of concession stands in factories and other suitable locations for the employment of competent blind persons as operators of small business enterprises."
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Victor Gonzalez, legislative chairman of the West Virginia Federation of the Blind, writes, under date of October 24, as follows:
"It is with a great deal of pleasure that I inform you that the West Virginia State Legislature at a special session called by Governor Underwood on October 5, 1960, adopted House Bill Number One which reads in part: 'Section Four: Number (6) ...is actually in need and has not sufficient income or other resources to provide a subsistence compatible with decency and health; except that in making this determination an amount not to exceed the first eighty-five dollars per month of earned income plus one-half of earned income in excess of eighty-five dollars per month.'
"...We in West Virginia are still concerned about certain legislation sponsored by the National Organization which failed to receive any action by the Congress and we shall do our utmost to have such legislation adopted in the forthcoming session."
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