1500 Cheer Talk by Helen Keller

by Laurel | December 12th, 2011

12 December 1932

Helen Keller with Magnolia, circa 1920

Helen Keller with Magnolia, circa 1920

Renowned Blind Author Says She “Hears” Through Feet — Calls Deafness Greatest Handicap.

Miss Helen Keller, renowned blind author and lecturer, told an audience of more than 1500 people in the Holyoke High School auditorium tonight how she “sees” and “hears” and how she learned to speak. She received a veritable Niagara of applause. She was introduced by Mayor Henry J. Toepfert. The Holyoke Women’s club and the Lions club were the sponsors for her visit here. Miss Keller was presented a large bouquet by Donald B. Taber.

Members of the Lions club, under the direction of Donald R. Tabet, acted as ushers. Miss Helen Parker, chairman in charge of music, arranged a program featuring Mrs. Albertine Dean of this city, blind coloratura soprano; Mrs. Homer Newell accompanist, and George Webster, flutist.

Miss Keller was accompanied by her lifelong friend and teacher, Mrs. Anne Sullivan Macy. Charles B. Hayes, director of the American Foundation for the Blind, and Miss Polly Thompson, who told of Miss Keller’s education at Radcliffe College and Harvard University. Mr. Hayes spoke briefly about the work of the foundation and urged all his hearers to become blind-conscious for the evening.

President Mary E. Woolley of Mount Holyoke College and William F. Whiting, former secretary of commerce under President Calvin Coolidge, were honorary chairmen of the general committee. Other members of the committee follow: Treasurer, Mrs. Irving Pulciver; Invitations, Mrs. W. G. Dwight; auditorium, Herbert H. Marshall; decorations, Mrs. John H. Conant; publicity, Mrs. Arthur Ryan; reception, Mrs. N. P. Avery; music, Miss Helen Parker and Mayor Toepfert.

Miss Keller said that she “heard” applause with her feet through the wood in the floor. Of her handicaps, she said she considered deafness the greatest, “because it multiplies the difficulties of acquiring knowledge and learning to speak.”

“I have always felt more than repaid for the great efforts I made in learning to speak,” she said, “because speech gave me spirit winds. I like to think that through my limitations God is working some great good, in bringing friendship and service and happiness to many others.” She told of meeting George Bernard Shaw in England last summer, saying it “was thrilling because I had read his plays with great pleasure for many years.”

Adapted from The Springfield Republican, public domain image from Wikipedia.

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