I have a special treat for you this weekend, from Friday until Monday, I’m sharing Chapter 1 from my novel, Ungolden Silence. If you like what you have read, please click the cover to purchase your copy of the book. Enjoy!
The New Firm
Erna Elaine Wilson is a thirty-seven year-old African-American woman who was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. This caused her to have cerebral palsy. She grew up and graduated from college with a degree in advertising. Like her mother, Helen, Elaine is a member of the Beta Lambda Beta Sorority. Elaine is especially proud of this, since her parents, Helen and Willie, were once told to put their daughter in the state hospital for the mentally retarded. Her disability was obvious from the time she could say hello. However, once a person got accustomed to her speech, he would soon find that her mental capacities were all there, and she could do many things. The only thing she could not do was drive. This would cause her to get depressed at times when she needed to go somewhere, but it proved to be more a nuisance than anything else.
During the 1960s Elaine attended special education classes at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. While all of her classmates were physically disabled, she was the only African-American in the class.
When she was sixteen years old, Elaine joined a club of young disabled people. This was very exciting for her because the director, Catherine Peterson, asked her to think of ways to make people more aware of the disabled in Houston. She watched the different public service announcements on television and was aware of Josephine Harper, who in the nineteen seventies was one of the first African-Americans to work in a major advertising firm. Miss Harper had her own office with two assistants, Kathy Miller and Beatrice James.
Elaine was nervous as she dialed the number.
“Robertson Advertising firm,” a voice said.
“May I speak with Miss Josephine Harper?”
“Ma’am, I am sorry. I can’t understand you.”
Although she was used to this, Elaine got mad when people did not even try to understand her. She took a deep breath and repeated her request.
“Josephine Harper’s office, may I help you?” the lady said in a pleasant voice.
“Yes, may I speak with Josephine Harper?” Elaine said as plainly as she could. A few seconds later she heard:
“This is Josephine, may I help you?”
“My name is Elaine Wilson,” Elaine said as slowly and plainly as she could. She was nervous, her stomach was full of butterflies, but she was on the phone now and could not turn back even if she wanted to. “I am with the Disabled Club of Houston.” Elaine paused to get her breath. “Can you understand me?”
“Yes, I can understand you. How can I help?”
Elaine continued, “We need a campaign to make people aware of the needs of the disabled and of the different kinds of disabilities. Do you wear glasses, Miss Harper?”
“Yeah, I do,” Josephine responded. “What is this? That is an odd question.”
“Well, this means your eyes need extra help for them to function correctly. Billions upon billions of people wear glasses, and we don’t consider them disabled,” Elaine responded.
“Mmmm . . . I never thought of it that way. I can’t do anything without these things.”
“This is what we need to make people aware of.”
“So what the Disabled Club of Houston wants to do is launch a public awareness campaign to raise awareness that the disabled are people like everyone else—we just have special needs. We have funding and a budget and I would love to meet with you to discuss this with you.”
“Well,” Elaine could hear the sound of nails on a keyboard. “Miss Wilson, let’s see—can you come in next week? It looks like I have one or two mornings available.”
“Yeah, I can.”
“Listen, do you want to provide the information we will need—or would you like to actually work on the project with me?”
“Oh I would be more than honored to work with you!” Elaine said enthusiastically. I’ve read lots of articles about you, and I love all the ads that you do and everything.”
“Well, thank you for that. Listen, what about next Thursday at ten o’clock?”
“Just a minute I have to check with my mom.” After a few seconds, Elaine was back on the phone and their first meeting was set up.
As she put the phone down, Elaine could not contain her excitement.
She went to share the conversation with her parents. Willie and Helen were understandably impressed.
“Did Miss Harper understand what you were saying?” Her dad asked halfway joking, as they were in the family room.
Elaine responded that Josephine appeared to have no problem understanding her. She was excited.
To be continued tomorrow…
Copyright ©2008 Lydia E. Brew. All Rights Reserved.
If you like what you have read, please click the cover to purchase your copy of the book.