[nfbwatlk] 20 years ago next week

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Thu Jun 30 23:24:59 UTC 2011

NFB of Washington Talk listers:

It will be 20 years ago next week that I attended my first National Federation of the Blind National Convention.  I had won a scholarship and I brought with me my folding cane as I assumed that canes would be all the fashion in New Orleans in 1991.  At the convention, I quickly figured out that the folding cane was really dorky and I bought myself a telescoping cane.

I only applied for the scholarship because Susie Prows was on the Washington Department of Services for the Blind advisory council with me and she handed me a scholarship application and said that I should apply.  Scott LaBarre was a member  of the scholarship committee and he called to tell me that I had won an NFB scholarship.  I was so astounded, I hipped and yapped into the phone with delight.

At the convention, the chairman of the NFB DIG program, Chris Kuczynski, kept harassing me about my newly purchased telescoping carbon fiber cane because it only came to my breast bone.  Later, I read in my new subscription to the Braille Monitor an article by Chris about the pencil technique , which I quickly adopted.  Over time, I bought successively longer white canes and grew to prefer straight ones over telescoping, except for canes I use while on airplanes.

I won the lowest amount scholarship that was possible to get at that particular national convention.  However, the money, while appreciated, was a minimal gift to the friendships and inspiration and information that I have gained as a result of having attended that convention.

I got to know Dan Frye, who spent countless hours with me during law school helping me develop a philosophy about living as a blind person and who is now one of my closest friends; Denise and Gary Mackenstadt, who started inviting Jim and me over to their home and shared their lives with me; Ben and Susie Prows, who also started inviting us to their home and introduced me to Hazel tenBroek; Albert Sanchez, who always tried to keep me on my toes and is one of my role models; and Mike and Barbara Freeman, who liked to verbally spar with me; Mark and Debbie Noble, who amused me with their antics and showed me how to live as a blind person with individual desires and ambitions; and Scott LaBarre, who has become a beloved friend; and many, many others, some of whom are on this list today and some of whom are not.

Happy anniversary to me!

Your friend and colleague in the movement,

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