My first personal experience with bad eyesight and, therefore, the need for glasses came in the early weeks of January 1962 while I was in the fifth grade.
Like most everyone else at the age of 10 or 11, I never realized I had anything wrong with my ability to see clearly. As far as I knew, my vision was as good as anyone else’s.
Instead of looking at myself as the one with the problem, I just thought my teacher’s handwriting on the green chalkboard was getting lighter. Maybe her age (she was close to retirement age which, to this tweener, was old — these days, my opinion of age has changed as I’ve gotten older).
And not only was the chalk getting harder to read, it was somehow getting fuzzier. How, I don’t know, but it was more difficult for me to copy down our homework assignments.
To compensate for this problem, I devised a couple of methods to counteract this seeing problem.
First, I would hold my eyes open without blinking for as long as I could. Within a few seconds, my eyes would tear up and I’d squint, causing the clear liquid to slightly magnify the writing on the chalkboard, enabling me to copy down a few lines.
Granted, I had limited success doing this but it worked for a while — and it was discreet; no one had any notion I was struggling.
Soon I made up a second method, but it was more detectable by my classmates and the teacher. I put the thumb and forefinger of my left hand together (fingerprint to fingerprint); then I did the same thing with the right hand.
Once I’d accomplished this, I brought the two sets of fingers together, creating a diamond space in the middle. I could then narrow the space between the thumb-finger combinations, producing a somewhat useful — and clear — image of the writing on the board.
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