I just received word from my publisher, iUniverse, that We Shall Overcome is now available in Kindle and other eBook formats from various sources.. While doing a search for these sites, I discovered that How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver is now available from Amazon for the Kindle. I’m going to try to plug both books at once. Since I’ve never posted an excerpt from We Shall Overcome on this blog, I’m going to paste below the beginning of Chapter 1. This will be followed by links to various sites where both books can be purchased in eBook formats. These Links will also be available on my Website.
The demonstrators sang as they stood blocking the entrance to the courthouse in the gathering dusk of a chilly March evening. Lisa clutched her long white cane in her right hand and a small sign in her left hand and sang with them. For the past few months, she and her friend Joan Ferrin were involved with a group of peace activists trying to prevent the war with Iraq. They participated in marches and meetings where people spoke out against the war. However, their efforts were futile because on this day, the conflict was beginning. The group organized this gathering at the last minute. Since they wanted to get the public’s attention but wanted to disrupt the proceedings at the courthouse as little as possible, they decided to hold their gathering in the early evening after the courthouse closed for the day and while it was still light so people driving by could see them. They stood at the entrance nearest the busy main street, and their voices rose over the sound of traffic.
“All right, folks, listen up,” said a voice amplified by a bull horn. “You have five minutes to clear out or you’ll all be arrested for civil disobedience.”
Startled, Lisa dropped her sign and began making her way through the crowd, holding her cane diagonally in front of her. Despite her limited vision, she could see people moving aside to let her pass. Ahead of her, she glimpsed the busy intersection and heard the traffic. “Lisa, what are you doing?” Joan called.
Lisa turned toward the sound of her friend’s voice and said, “I’m not going to jail.” She broke free of the crowd and headed for the intersection. She paused at the corner, waiting for the light to change. Although she could see colors, she could not make out traffic lights. So she could only determine whether the light was green or red by observing the flow of traffic.
Running footsteps sounded behind her. “Hey, can you stop a minute?” a male voice asked.“I’m with the Sheridan Press, and I want to know why you’re running away.”
Her panic rising, Lisa turned to the man and said, “Just let me get far enough away so they don’t arrest me, okay?”
She turned toward the street, and noticing that it was safe to cross, she dashed to the other side, the tip of her cane sweeping from side to side in front of her. When she reached the opposite curb, she paused and turned to the reporter who was hurrying after her. She hoped she was far enough away that she would not be perceived as one of the demonstrators.
“Boy, for someone who can’t see, you sure move fast,” said the reporter, panting and taking a notebook and pen from his pocket.
Lisa forgot about the demonstration and the threat of arrest as she was seized by an instinct to educate this reporter about her visual impairment and her accomplishments despite the disability. “I have some vision,” she said. “I can see people, places, and objects if they’re close enough, but I don’t always recognize people by their faces. Most of the time, I have to go by voices. I can also read with the help of a closed-circuit television reading system that magnifies the print. As a matter of fact, that’s how I read your paper.”
“That’s interesting,” said the reporter, scribbling in his notebook. “Do you use a computer, too?”
“Yes,” Lisa answered. “I use one at home and at work. Both have screen readers that read the text aloud to me in synthetic speech and help me navigate without using a mouse.”
“And where do you work?” the reporter asked.
“I work with my father, Brad Taylor,” Lisa answered. “He owns Taylor Novelty, a company that sells and services coin-operated machines to restaurants and other businesses in Sheridan, Buffalo, Gillette, and other towns in this area.”
“Oh, yeah,” the reporter said. “I believe you guys do our candy machine at the office. That reminds me. Did anyone from there call you today about that machine? It took my fifty cents but didn’t give me a candy bar.”
“No, but I’ll make sure someone gets there tomorrow,” Lisa said.
“So what kind of work do you do with this company?” the reporter asked.
“I do the books and keep track of all the cigarettes, junk food, coffee, cocoa, and jukebox records that go into those machines,” Lisa said.
“You use the computer to do all that?” the reporter asked.
“Most of it,” Lisa answered. “I also have a closed-circuit television reading system there that I use to read the labels on all the merchandise. I then label everything in Braille so I can find it easily.”
“By the way, I don’t think I caught your name,” the reporter said.
Before she could answer, she heard the amplified voice that earlier announced the demonstrators’ impending arrest and was surprised that it was still audible from across the street, despite the noise of the traffic.“All right, folks, you’re all under arrest.” She heard the sound of approaching sirens.
“It looks like the police are coming,” said the reporter. The gathering dusk, the sound of the sirens growing closer and closer, and the amplified voice across the street reminded her why she was there, and she turned to leave. “Wait,” said the reporter. “You haven’t told me why you’re running away, why you don’t want to be arrested.”
“I also haven’t told you my name,” she said, turning back to the reporter and trying to keep her voice calm. “My name is Lisa Taylor, and although I am opposed to the war with Iraq, I don’t think the cause is worth going to jail. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get home before it gets too dark for me to see.”
“You’re scared,” the reporter said as she turned to leave.
“What do you mean?” Lisa asked, turning back.
“You’re afraid of going to jail,” the reporter answered.
“Of course I’m afraid of going to jail,” Lisa said. “But I’m more afraid of losing my job, which could happen if I’m arrested.”
Lisa knew this was a lie. Her father didn’t approve of the war with Iraq any more than she did. If she were arrested, he’d bail her out and then pat her on the knee and tell her how proud he was of his little girl for standing up for a cause.But she wasn’t about to tell the reporter that. However, his next words made her realize that he saw right through her.
“Look, I’ve met your dad. He seems to be a real nice guy, not the sort of father who would fire his own daughter. But a lot of those people across the street are not lucky enough to have employers who understand something like this, and I don’t see any of them running away. Could your visual impairment have something to do with it?”
Exasperated, Lisa turned and fled along the sidewalk. In the distance, the wail of police sirens was replaced by the screech of brakes as the squad cars arrived at their destination. Lisa didn’t look back, not until she reached the safety of her apartment building only a few blocks away.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver