Episode 1 - Larry Johnson

Episode 1 - Larry Johnson

Episode 1 - Larry Johnson

Portrait of Larry

Episode Information

Episode One – Larry Johnson

What bothers me most about how people use the word blind or blindness is that they usually have in their minds a stereotype of what it represents to them. They are thinking about the limitations the inability the problems the obstacles. Sometimes it’s enfolded with a sense of pity or a sense of great admiration. And it should be neither. I don’t want to be thought of as amazing Larry or poor Larry. I just want to be Larry.

Speaker 1: I don’t remember losing my sight because it happened when I was a baby due to
infantile glaucoma, I guess for me, vision is what I remember being able to see. I’ve
never saw a face or anything in detail. What I remember most are colors. I remember
seeing shadows of trees. I, I have no idea what a mountain looks like or a river. I loved
playing baseball, even though I could never catch the ball. <laugh> I loved being out in
the field and, and hearing the ball hit the bat. I just was excited about the possibility of
one day I’ll catch that damn ball. And later on, when I was a teenager, I used to practice
imitating the announcer as he described the game. And, and I could begin, you know,
okay, now Luke Alene is up and there’s a swing in a bit, strike one.

Speaker 1: Here’s the next pitch. It’s low one outside ball, one, one, and one, or the, the, the short
stop dives and makes a one hand stop. And you could feel it and you could experience
it. And it was part of my game. It was part of my own entertainment. When I acquired
my dog Tasha, I was just short of 16 years of age, and I felt I could go anywhere, do
anything with her at my side. I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to take a trip to
Mexico? It took about a year of planning and of course then began my adventures.
When I got into Mexico, where in my limited Spanish, tried to find out if the train would
make a stop long enough for me to take Tasha off the train to answer to nature’s call. So
I asked the conductor and he told me in, oh, no, problema no problema. Well, there was
a problema because <laugh>, as soon as, as soon as I released Tasha from her harness
and leash, the train pulled away. And so I was left in this little town and it was a scary
moment. And, uh, Tasha again was my source of self-confidence in, in, in support. She
came back and I, I hugged her and I thought, it’s, it’s gonna be okay.

Speaker 1: Oh, I felt sorry for myself, many times throughout my life, when I would be, uh, turned
down by a, a girl that I wanted to go on a date with, or my ideas would be ignored so
many times.

Speaker 2: And it’s very easy blaming the disappointment on the condition of blindness, no
question, but my mother’s philosophy and her belief in me has been the most important
factor. And my believing that I can take one more step up that ladder. One more step.
No, I have never really longed for sight. What I have longed for was to not be
discriminated against because I was blind. I think the greatest misconception is that
people who are blind are helpless, how do you brush your teeth? How do you <laugh>,
how do you go to the bathroom? You know, how do you cook many blind people are
fully functioning in the community. They’re able to work. They’re able to marry. They’re
able to have children. They’re able to be contributing valid members of society.
Speaker 2: Synesthesia is where there’s a crossover of senses. Some people, for example, when
they listen to music, they visualize textures, smells or tastes. I, in my case, when I think
of words or letters, I visualize colors, why Michael is yellow and Larry is blue. It just
happens to be how I interpret them. But at the same time, I also see that word in braille.
I don’t feel it with my fingers, but in my mind, I am feeling the dots and, um, numbers
do have colors. A four is kind of silver. A 10 is red, a hundred is, uh, it’s kind of a, a pink
color, but it hasn’t really had any practical application for me. As far as I know, it’s just
kind of been entertaining. Sounds can be so meaningful, not just people’s voices, but
their tone of voice, the words that they choose to use walking along a street and hearing
music from a record store.

Speaker 2: And so you become very aware of sounds that that are happening. They become, um,
clues as to where you are and where you’re going. I remember once I was gonna go to a
store and it was snowing and the wind was blowing and you couldn’t really detect the
sidewalk I got lost. And I didn’t know if I was in the street or where I was. And I began to
think about my radio heroes and how would they approach this? And it was at the same
time, scary, but also I just consider it as, as part of the adventure of learning to deal with
the unknown and with the unexpected.

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