Shortly after Samuel Bean’s graduation from the California School for the Deaf and Blind, he embarked upon another life-changing adventure: he pledged “I do” to the love of his life.
Sam had met Maud Woodworth at the school in Berkeley sometime during his high school years there. Maud was the daughter of a southern California farmer, William C. Woodworth, and his wife, the former Effie Aurilla Williams. Maud had left her family home near Los Angeles to attend the school due to her own challenges with blindness.
While the story of Sam and Maud is probably a scenario which has been repeated by many high school students over the years—whether seeing or blind—what is interesting about their version is not so much that a blind student met and fell in love with another blind student, but that their tale was told not only in their hometowns, not only in the newspaper near their alma mater, but across the country.
I accidentally discovered—thanks to the website known as Old Fulton NY Postcards—that the marriage of the newlyweds was also reported in the January 28, 1921, edition of the Syracuse Herald. (Warning: this link loads very slowly.) Syracuse, by the way, is in New York—a long way from the Bay Area region Sam and Maud called home. For whatever reason, the editors of this upstate New York newspaper thought their local subscribers would find the occasion an interesting read.
Oakland, Cal., Jan 28.—A love affair which began when both were totally blind and when Samuel W. Bean was unable to communicate with other human beings culminated in his marriage here to Miss Maude Woodworth. They met as students at the California State Home for the Deaf and Blind. Both are twenty-four years of age.Bean now lives in Alameda at 1807 Santa Clara avenue, although for the past seven years he was a student at the blind school. Miss Woodworth, with the aid of strong glasses, now has her full sight.Bean came to the school when he was sixteen years of age after an accident which destroyed both his sight and his hearing. It was months before Miss Mary Eastman, the young man’s teacher, could establish any communication with him. Now he is trained in the use of the deaf sign language and is able to converse with anyone.After the wedding ceremony, performed with the aid of the sign language, the young couple had luncheon with Mrs. Bean, the bridegroom’s mother and Miss Eastman.They will live in Alameda. Bean has written poetry which he sells to help earn a livelihood.
How did the couple end up in New York for their wedding ceremony when they lived in California?ReplyDelete
Actually, the ceremony was conducted in Oakland, which is in California. It was just that the whole story was carried by a newspaper in Syracuse, which I find amazing. I guess I would never have known, Colleen, if not for the search capabilities we have now, and the widespread digitization of historic newspapers. Researching family history is such a kick, with all these resources we have now!Delete
The "here" in the article refers to "Oakland, CA."ReplyDelete
Once might assume there was "family" in Syracuse - or close friends? Or that the event would hold general interest to the public at large? I find the story touching - even though it happened long ago and far away. I wonder if the newlyweds got any (hopefully nice) mail sent to them (their address is in the paper!) from the readers of the article. Just as a contextual note - "The Great Gatsby" was written about this time (1923) - so perhaps the roaring 20's and the romance of the era was a national thing?
That old postcard website is fascinating... I could get lost in there for hours (or days) on end.
You know, Iggy, I wouldn't have thought there would be any link between Sam and Maud and Syracuse, but just last night, I was poking around online...and I found one. Whether that's the smoking gun in this case, I don't know (I'll have to ponder that one a while longer). Or...it may just be a case of reader's curiosity that prompted the editor to share that vignette with his readers.Delete
And yes...I love that website, too. The name's misleading, by the way. There is so much more there than just New York newspapers.
A possible link to BostonReplyDelete
And a possible link to Syracuse
Iggy, I had been wondering about the Perkins link ever since reading about Anne Sullivan's connection there. Of course, the Boston angle for Sam and Maud makes this a possibility.Delete
That Syracuse story you posted was interesting--the right time frame, too. I wonder if the interest in Sam's story was a "me too" effect in the wake of the public's fascination with Helen Keller's story.
Wow, I guess it was indeed a national story to be in a paper in Syracuse! I wonder if it was in other papers across the country as well. It is an especially amazing story. I am surprised and relieved to find out that Maude recovered her full sight!ReplyDelete
Mariann, I think it was my own fault in limiting my research parameters to California, only, that kept me from finding any stories like this until recently. Sam and Maud did end up traveling and promoting his story and booklet of verse, so there are probably other such mentions out there.Delete
And yes, Maud did end up being able to see--though the lenses she wore were incredibly thick.
The personal love story probably helped sell those books of poetry.ReplyDelete
I have really wondered if Sam had a savvy publicist. Or stage mother? Or teacher advocate? But then, I doubt the sale of a volume of poetry as slim as his would provide the kind of profit margin needed for such a promotional service.Delete
I'm sure the warm and fuzzy PR didn't hurt...
National news! Perfect! :)ReplyDelete
Yep. Sam's been syndicated.Delete
Oh how lovely! I'm a little late to the wedding party here. It's so wonderful that Sam and Maud found each other, fell in love, and married.ReplyDelete
Jana, never too late to this wedding party! Glad you were able to join in!Delete
...and now, I think I will migrate over to your party, and help celebrate your one year blogiversary. Congrats!