Near Fine. 5 3/4" x 8 1/2" Walking Free: The Nellie Zimmerman Story like Hellen Keller's The Story of my Life, recounts the life of a deaf and blind woman. Written in the style of a docu-drama, it is based on interviews with Nellie's companion and friend Emily Street Hensel. According to the authors, the authenticity of her stories has been confirmed by countless newspaper articles, photos, and other documentary evidence, which Emily has collected. Written by two heretofore unknown authors, Rosezelle Boggs-Qualls and Dr. Daryl C. Greene, this book recounts the story of Nellie's experience as she first lost her hearing and then her sight, and yet under her father's care learned how to cope. After her father's death, Nellie was eventually committed to the Massillon State Mental Hospital where she lived in a back ward with 60 mentally ill and senile women for 19 years. When the State Hospital finally released her at the age of 71, Nellie went on to become a college student, a well known lecturer, and a life skills instructor for deaf and deaf-blind boys. By the time she was 22, she could hear nothing, not even the sound of her own voice, and could see nothing, living in total darkness except for the occasional shaft of painful bright light. There are many humorous, heartbreaking and touching stories, written in a conversational style, describing how they communicated by finger spelling into her hands. Nellie kept her clothes, cleaned the house, cooked meals, and walked unaided around her neighborhood. The photos included in the book put faces with names and contribute a sense of authenticity to the story. But perhaps what I enjoyed the most was the honesty with which the authors have presented Nellie's character. She was a woman of great spirit, but she was no angel. Once Nellie stuffed bedsheets into all the toilets at one nursing home, after the staff had tied her to a chair for refusing to wash the dishes, and when this 95 pound woman knocked Emily's 190 pound husband on his derriere because she did not want his wedding presents under the Christmas tree. 17 chapters including Cat Called Kitten, which describes how a cat that was donated to Nellie survived minus three of her lives to become her shoulder riding best friend. Life At Home, which tells the heartwarming story about how Emily surprised Nellie by wrapping up their friend Jim as a Christmas present. And, Freedom, Independence, and Love when Nellie at the age of 75, falls in love for the first time. The book stands as a testimony to the victory of the human spirit over the most difficult circumstances.
Very Good. Boggs-Qualls, Rosezelle and Daryl C. Greene. WALKING FREE: The Nellie Zimmerman Story. Richmond, IN: Densmore Reid Publications, (2001). 269p., illus wrappers, illus, very good. 1st ed. Signed by both authors and by Emily Street Hensel on whose recollections of Zimmerman this book is based. Biography of Zimmerman (1906-1995), a blind and deaf woman who spent 19 years in the Massillon State Hospital who later attended college, became a well known lecturer and a life skills instructor for deaf/blind teenage boys.
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