Oral Schools for The Deaf ~ Tasteful Memories

Mary Anne

A Short Story:   Please, Ma’am, May I NOT Have Any More? 

Mary Anne Pugin

Warm milk, beans, and rhubarb.  We got those a lot at the Lutheran School for the Deaf, an oral school in Detroit, Michigan.  As an 11-year-old sixth grader, with a home and family in South Bend, Indiana, the Lutheran School was my first residential school away from home.   I was happy there, learning a lot in the classroom, but I did have a revelation shortly after arriving at the school.  I discovered that Mom’s cooking was to be appreciated.  Bless her heart, bless her soul…

Lord knows why, but the kitchen staff poured the milk into our glasses long before we sat down for lunch or dinner.  To “get it over with” is my best guess.  Sitting there for an hour or so, the milk would always turn warm.  I’ve just one word for warm milk — yuk.

To this day I cannot look at rhubarb and not have a fleeting flashback of the Lutheran School.  The school’s administrator, Dr. Klein, lived with his wife in a house on the campus.  His wife’s name was Mrs. Klein and I remember her as being a rather gruff woman.  She was a little hard to warm up to but she was a decent lady and did seem to like us kids.

Mrs. Klein had a garden.  I don’t remember what all she grew, but I do remember her rhubarb.  She would invite some of us older kids over to her garden to pick the rhubarb for her.  Much of what we picked ended up in the school’s kitchen.  We had a lot of rhubarb…a lot…very often.

To feed a mass, feed them beans.  We got beans a lot, too, and the kitchen served up these same beans all the time.  There was no creativity in that kitchen.  There was also no mercy from the housemothers.  We had to eat everything on our plate, whether we liked the mess on it or not.

I don’t know the name of this particular brownish lentil but it has a unique odor and a taste that I just couldn’t stomach.  To mask the taste, I would take big bites of bread, but that hardly helped.  Those beans made me sick every time.  You would think, well aware of my physical aversion to those beans, they would excuse me for not eating them.  No such luck.

Years later, as a graduate student, I visited a school for the deaf and we went to the cafeteria for lunch.  Approaching the line, I caught a very familiar and nauseating whiff.  They were serving those very same beans!  I had jello instead, and milk.  At least the milk was cold.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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One Response to “Oral Schools for The Deaf ~ Tasteful Memories”

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