When I was growing up in rural south Alabama, Helen Keller was one of my heroes. I read a book about her when I was in elementary school. When I finshed the last page and had looked at the photos for a long period of time, I would flip back to the start and read it all over again. I admired her that much and enjoyed the book that much.
Which is why I was delighted to buy Princess Buttercup a similar book when we visited Helen Keller’s birthplace last week.
It was a wonderful trip for the kids, who have Alabama history this year.
I had visited Helen Keller’s home years and years ago when I taught school.
This time was much more fun because I was passing a part of me down to my own daughter.
The name of the Keller estate is Ivy Green. It is located in the charming northwest Alabama town of Tuscumbia.
The crisp, white clapboard house was built in 1820 on 640 acres of Keller land.
Helen Keller was born without a disability in the late 1800s. It was 19 months later that she contracted the illness that left her completely deaf and blind.
Her parents, as you can well imagine, were devastated and desperate to find help for their daughter as she grew into a completely wild and unmanageable child. The help came in the form of Helen’s would-be teacher, the indomitable Anne Sullivan, who became Helen’s conduit to communicating to the world.
My eyes get misty, just thinking about it. Essentially, Helen had been trapped in her own mind and body until Ms. Sullivan came along.
Amazing enough and with the help of Ms. Sullivan, Helen went on to graduate cum laude from Radcliffe College. Her worldwide fame as a spokeswoman for the blind and deafblind, a lecturer, and humanitarian went on from there. She became known as America’s First Lady of Courage.