Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My father was NOT blind

Oh, he was very persnickety about his vision. He cleaned his glasses with some special glass cleaner -- the smell of which I loved -- at least four times a day, but he was NOT blind, although he did like to pretend he was -- only if on the occasion of his blindness he could embarrass one of his children.

Lori wanted to know the truth about this non-myth. Well, I wrote about it many, many months ago, and it's embedded in an epistle about my father taking me to Wanamaker's at Christmas time. You can check it out by clicking on "on his blindness" in the subject listing to the left.

In case I left anything out in the telling of these very embarrassing moments for me and my siblings whenever my father would say, "Oh, I feel my blindness coming on," I will try to make it plain, once again.

We (my father and I or one of my siblings) would be walking down Market Street (the main drag) in Philadelphia where there were at that time lots of REAL beggars who would sit near the doorways to shops with their cigar boxes and bells, asking for "alms for the poor."

Well, usually right between 11th and 12th on Market, where the congregation of beggars was the greatest, my father would grab hold tight of my hand, and I knew what was coming. His blindness was coming on. I think he put on this act as a protest to the many beggars sitting in his way on the sidewalk, and because he knew that most of the "beggars" were not in need of "alms for the poor."

He always carried an umbrella when we went into Philly, no matter what the weather was when we left, nor what the weathermen said it would be. So he was prepared for the act to follow.

Now you all might think this is funny, but it was humiliating to a child or teenager.

He would grab hold of my wrist -- he had strong hands -- and would state: "Oh, I feel my blindness coming on." Then he would flip over his sunglasses onto his glasses (blind people wear dark glasses), and he would take off his hat (he always wore a felt hat), he would, with the hand that wasn't gripping me put his hat in front of him so that it was in a position to receive "alms for the poor" and he would stop walking, get over toward the building and start singing, "Abide with me," tapping his umbrella like cane while he was doing all this.

How embarrassing! After one verse, he would put his hat back on, let go of my wrist, and we'd be on our way again, usually to Wanamaker's which was at 13th and Market.

So there you have it again. But make no mistake about it. He needed glasses, yes, but he was NOT blind.


1 comment:

Lori said...

I know it must've been mortifying for you, but I'm completely cracking up imagining my sweet grandpa doing that! Sooooo funny! I think those moments rubbed off on my dad, because there were many, MANY time when he would pull stunts like that when I was a teenager. I remember him driving me to school and walking me up to the front door with a big brown, velvet cowboy hat, complete with feather, just to humiliate his oldest child. Can I say how much I'm looking forward to doing that to my children?!! ;-) If only I could find that hat....