Monday, March 18, 2013

Breathtaking Possibility


In the midst of trying to track down an explanation for why Alameda County resident Samuel Bean was listed as a Boston resident in his father’s obituary, instead of any satisfactory answers, more attention-grabbing details surface.

Take, for example, this article included on the back page of the May 15, 1918, edition of the Oakland Tribune.

Here’s what appeared under headlines screaming, “Blind, Deaf, But Hearing May Return.”
            The same medical science which restored the eyesight of Tom Skeyhill, blind Anzac signaler, may bring back the hearing of “Sammy” William Bean, blind and deaf pupil at the California School for the Deaf and Blind in Berkeley.
            Hope is seen for the restoration of Sammy’s hearing by Dr. R. F. Robie, osteopath physician of Oakland, who declares that there is a good chance that the boy may once again hear the sound of a human voice.
            It was through the publication of poems written by “Sammy” Bean in The TRIBUNE in which the youth poured forth all the yearnings of a soul in darkness and silence that Dr. Robie, touched by the lad’s pitiful plight, began his treatment. A careful examination this week of the boy’s condition showed abnormal cords and muscles on “Sammy’s” neck which, according to Dr. Robie, may have caused deafness. These, Dr. Robie hopes to restore to their normal condition and in this way effect a restoration of the youth’s hearing.

STILL UNCERTAIN.
            “As yet it is all an uncertain problem whether the boy’s hearing will be restored,” says Dr. Robie. “That there is a good chance he will hear again is certain or I would not undertake his treatment. It is more than likely that if these cords on his neck are restored to their normal condition that he will hear again.”
            While the treatment to be used in seeking to restore “Sammy’s” hearing is not identical [sic] with that which brought back the sight of Tom Skeyhill, wounded Anzac soldier, in the east recently, the methods are dominated by the same theory, according to Dr. Robie.
            So far but two treatments have been given the lad but with encouraging results already shown by these high hope is held by Dr. Robie that his labors may not prove in vain.
            Bean, who is now 20 years old, lost both his hearing and his sight when a lad of 12 he was struck on the head by a baseball. According to physicians there is no hope for the restoration in any part of his sight, one of his eyes having been removed and the other totally destroyed as a result of the accident.
            Joy at the prospects of getting back his hearing is expressed by “Sammy” in his silent language of the deaf and in faltering sentences.
            “If only my hearing is restored, blindness will be as nothing,” he says.
            The youth is being escorted to and from his visits to the doctor’s office by his teacher and closest companion, Miss Mary Heath Eastman, through whose untiring efforts “Sammy” was accorded his first communication with the world after his sight and hearing were --- [unclear word].

CLEVERNESS UNDOUBTED.
            Despite his double handicap, “Sammy” Bean is accorded the distinction of being the most brilliant pupil at the state blind and deaf school as well as the most skilled mechanic in the workshops. His unusual ability and deftness with his hands was shown recently when the school was carrying out a contract for tying and splicing tent ropes for the government. Where a seeing person possessed of all his faculties spliced but 80 ropes per hour working at top speed, “Sammy” accomplished 120.

12 comments:

  1. Screaming article indeed, Jaqui! Fascinating! Can't wait to hear if the surgery was successful!

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    1. Well...we'll see. You know I'll get to it :)

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  2. Sounds almost "quackish" to me - I'm sure there was no "easy" cure - and much disappointment.

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    1. When I read that, Iggy, I had that same feeling. However, I did look up that Tom Skeyhill who was mentioned in the newspaper article, and apparently his treatment was successful. Keep in mind, though, that Tom's treatment was for his sight while Sam's would be for his hearing, two totally different matters.

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  3. What Iggy said..but a great bit of info:)

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    1. I'm with Iggy on this one, but you are right: a great piece to stumble upon. Love those historic newspaper collections!

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  4. I agree with Iggy and Far Side. I must confess, though, that the reference to Sam as a poet is even more interesting and would hope you've been able to find some of the work that was published in the Tribune (and elsewhere?). What a fascinating life he has already had at the young age of 20!

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    1. Oh, Linda, I will get to the part about Sam's poetry. There is one huge obstacle standing in my way, though: wherever the other records for this family have been stored, evidently my volume of his poems also resides. Believe me, I've been searching, but no luck so far. So even I will have to resort to the newspapers to see what he had written!

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  5. My heavens! I can't imagine anything more dramatic than to hear the thoughts of Sam Bean in his poems, for example: "a soul in darkness and silence." From your earlier posts, I assume the surgery was unsuccessful, but I'm still on tenterhooks to hear.

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    1. It was a traumatic pivot point in his life, Mariann. I think the only thing that saved him was his "can do" attitude--and the great support of family members, particularly Ella, his mother.

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  6. I wonder if Sam was a poet even before the accident. I know he was just a kid when it happened.

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    1. Perhaps he was, Wendy, but I'll never know. On the other hand, sometimes the events we see as tragedies do bring out some sterling qualities in people which would otherwise remain latent.

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