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One man who became deaf, dreamed of many ears of corn---
"because corn grows on ears", he said.
Flair Annual, 1953
BTW, the Flair Annual of 1953 won our 2012 Golden Ear of Corn Award for much more of such nonsense. See next page.
He Spoke to Their Toes?
Early in the 19th Century, a French physician, a Dr. Petetin, published his Memoire sur la Catalepsie ----his observations of cataleptics (schizophrenics in motionless stupor). They were deaf in their ears while in stupor, but reacted to speech only as if their ears were on their feet, hands, or stomachs.
(That rings a bell. We recall reading somewhere that elephants can hear bass tones through the soles of their feet, as if they had etxra ears down there. This informs them of disturbances in the ground from nearby other animals, unseen by the elephants.).
Volta's Dumbass Experiment
The first to create electrically stimulated sound inside the head, was not Drs. Djourno, Eynes, or House, the Cochlear Implant pioneers. It is said to be the Italian Count Allesandro Volta (d. 1827), at left, before those three were born. He invented the electric battery (though nature beat him to it with the electric eel ) and the "volt" is named in his honor.
Near the end of the 18th century, in a seemingly brainless experiment, he pumped a whopping 50 volts DC into his ears. He used metal rods pressed to his eardrums ---rods tipped with cotton moistened with salt water for connectivity. Anything up to electrocution could have occurred. Purpose? Who knows, maybe he expected his eyes to light up. He heard sound he described as "like sizzling soup".
We regret raining on his parade, but we believe all he heard was the crackling sounds of poor electrical contact between his eardrums and the damp, salted cotton. The electricity itself generated nothing inside his head.
That honor actually belongs to two English-Indian surgeons
(Baz Da Rana and Sonesh Dee). See Page 8.
The Volta Review, has been around for over 100 years. It focuses on scientific activities related to deafness, speech, and language. Volta didn't have much to do with those things, so how did his name get there?
France awarded A.G.Bell the Volta Prize for achievements in electro-physics. Bell used the honor to create his "Volta Laboratory", which eventually became the A.G. Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Thus, Volta's name got a push towards deafness.
Saved by Fake Deaf-Mutism
We read this in "Is Paris Burning?", the book on Hitler's planned destruction of Paris in WW2. An American B26 pilot, shot down over Paris, was hidden by the French Resistance. He was moved within the city disguised as a workman. But he had blonde hair and blue eyes, a square-jaw, and a 6 ft. 3 in. frame----an all-American look, a very unusual appearance there.
A German officer noticed him, was curious, and approached him with a question in French (which he wouldn't have understood). A 7-year old boy with the American's guides, was quickly sent to the German to say, "My father is deaf and dumb". (It was probably well-rehearsed for such an occasion). The German officer walked away.
More like that. A British fighter pilot blown out of his craft and severely injured, was hidden by the underground with a French farmer. This happened on D-Day near Caen. Gestapo agents were billeted at the same farm. The pilot, dressed in farm clothes, was described to them as a local deaf mute who was injured when his house was bombed. He was ignored by the Germans.
A Deaf Man Invented the Swing Mirror
The swing mirror on bikes and cars was invented by a deaf English cyclist and journalist,
Arthur Faed Wilson (d. 1945). His middle name (pronounced "feed") is an add-on name, "deaf" spelled backwards. He was also the first Deaf person in Great Britain to own and drive a car.
Meet the Deaf Kid Who Forced the Mighty US Mint to Redesign the United States Nickel !!
The new 1883 five cents nickel had Lady Liberty on front and Roman 5 (“V”) on reverse. But it didn’t say “CENTS”. Everyone was supposed to know it was just a nickel, since it had the silver-grey color of today's nickel.
A young Deaf and mute genius-of-sorts named Joshua Tatum gave lots of these nickels a cheap, extremely thin gold plate, after machine-milling (fluting or slotting) the edges -----a simple hand machine operation.
That made them resemble the same-sized $5 gold coin of that time ($5 then was like $135 today). That is, he counterfeited each 5 cents into 5 dollars. He raked in lots of money until caught. This forced the US Mint to redesign their dies to add “CENTS” to the coin -----a complicated and expensive task.
He counterfeited lots of them. You can buy one of Joshua's fakes on eBay (or from a coin dealer). It's called "the Racketeer Nickel". Some dealers may become fakers themselves, by gold plating the original nickel, forgetting the edge milling, and not disclosing it's just a copy.
The Racketeer Nickel is well-known in the numismatic industry, but the fact that the racketeer himself was a Deaf kid, is rarely mentioned.
Muteness (and a very good lawyer) got Joshua acquitted of any crime -----something you might find quite funny, as we did. Read about it here.
Meet Mr. Anybody
The model in that Acousticon advertisement down on the right, missing front tooth and all, looks like the cheese counter guy in the supermarket, or the shoe store clerk (without the collar and bow tie).
There was a reason not to use a young, good looking model, such as in the Beltone, Auris, and most other ads. There was much resistance to hearing aids back then. The message here is that it's suitable for every Mr (or Ms or Mrs)........ for anybody with a hearing loss, not just those young, attractive models who most people don't identify with.
This may be the first time an "anybody" was used in advertising for this purpose.
Oh, BTW....... that guy above has plugs jammed into his ears . The tremendous noise of the pneumatic hammer is around 120 dB. That can quickly damage his hearing without the plugs.
…….there was a report to the New England Journal of Medicine, that a mother was temporarily deafened in one ear by the scream of her 11-month old infant. The doctor ** on her case had an engineer measure the kid's scream at 6 inches from its mouth. It was a whopping 117 dB, the same as the pneumatic hammer.
**Bruce Bostrum, MD, University of Minnesota
UP TO NEXT COLUMN, PLEASE
1. Who is this strange-looking guy? Six hints:
He's not Adolf Hitler or Charlie Chaplin.
He wears a swastika armband.
He has a toothbrush mustache.
He carries a gun.
Meet him (if you care to) on Page 6.
2. Which very famous deaf genius had all his ear bones stolen from his corpse to be kept as souvenirs? [See Page 13].
3. What does the term "deaf and dumb" have in common with the cartoon character, Wonder Woman ? [See Page 7].
4. Three Queens of England had held the powerful title, "The Empress of India".
One was Victoria; the other was Mary. Who was the deaf one in between? She was considered the most beautiful queen of England.
[See Page 12].
5. Which famous scientist warned that an evil and harmful force radiated from deaf, blind, and similarly disabled people? [See Page 8].
6. Which famous deaf genius is said to be "the most influential person of the last thousand years"?
(OMG !! That beats Einstein, Marx, and Freud).
Hint: As a deaf kid, he got taken out of grade school for having an empty head. [See Page 11].
7. "The Deaf and Dumb State of the United States" or "The Deaf and Dumb Republic" had been proposed.
It was also referred to as "Deaf Mutia", "Eyeth", and "Gestoria".
Where was it to be located? [See Page 14].
8. What is said to be the worst movie of all time, from a deaf viewpoint? In another film, who was the evil Deaf servant who later became a big name star? [See Page 3].
9. Two characters in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, are deaf. One is the hunchback himself, who was deafened by the bells. Who is the other? [See Page 12]
10. The body of a famous deaf genius was disinterred. A planned autopsy to learn the cause of his deafness was impossible, because his head was missing.
Who was he? [See Page 12].
11. Which celebrity said that bringing deaf people (with a sign interpreter) to a book reading, is like bringing blind people to watch a ballet? [See Page 14].
12. Which completely deaf composer (not Beethoven) incorporated some of his tinnitus sounds in at least one of his masterpieces. [If you missed it, it's on this page].
13. It takes much work for an astronomer to classify the location and intensity of a single star. Which deaf woman classified a third of a million stars all by herself? [See Page 12].
14. Which two men, deaf from childhood and self-educated, were honored by each having a crater on the moon named after them, for their contributions to physics and engineering?
[See Page 12].
15. Glenn Curtiss founded the American aviation industry. He teamed with the Wright brothers to create the enormous Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Who was the deaf woman who hired him for his first aviation job, paid his salary, and worked with him? [See Page 6].
16. What is "sign salad"? [See Page 10].
17. Where is this term common: "The deaf leading the deaf?"
[See Page 7]
18. In which modern army did an entire battalion of signing Deaf mutes serve as full combatants? [See Page 18]
19. In which navy were half its sailors deaf, or have defective hearing? Hint: It was the largest in the world at that time.
[See Page 12]
20. Who was the deaf person who invented the telephone greeting, "Hello", which eventually became a common greeting word in the English language?
[See Page 11]
21. What's another meaning for the ASL three-finger hand sign, "I love you"? [See Page 10].
22. Who is that deaf baby in this 1993 postage stamp and where is he now? [See Page 7]
23. This thing asks who you are and what you want, before it lets you in. If you're deaf, how do you get past it?
[See Page 16]
24. Almost every American art professional recognizes these two coated figures. They were created with carbon, string, spit, and waste paper (as was much else of this artist's work). The illiterate Deaf artist signed his name with an "X". His work is sought by many museums. Who was he? [See Page 7]
25. This is the right arm of the infant Jesus in a painting, The Modanna of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci. It is in a gesture of greeting to St. John. What else is that hand doing (related to deafness) that took art academics 500 years to discover? [ See Page 16 ]
26.. Titian was the greatest Venetian artist of the 16th Century. He was known throughout the world as a genius in the use of color. Who is the artist who had the honor of being equaled to Titian? Hints: He was known as "the Spanish Titian"'
He was Deaf and mute. [See Page 16]
27. Who was the king who could use his hearing aid only when he was sitting on it? [See below]
28. Who was the Deaf and mute kid who forced the United states mint to redesign the US nickel? [It's on this page]
29. He sat down at the bar next to this girl and asked her, "Are you deaf?". He knew she wasn't. So what's he up to? [See page 10]
30. Who were the two deaf winners of the
Nobel Prize? [See Page 8]
31. If you can't sign at all, how can you instantly become an expert signer? (This is NOT a joke). [See Page 3]
32. Who invented the cochlear implant? [See Page 8].
33. Who invented all that electric signal stuff that d/Deaf people use today? [See Page 6].
34. Which deaf person produced the first visual image of the Frankenstein monster (not the one shown here) and produced the first Frankenstein movie? [See page 7, right column, way down].
_____ End of Quiz ____
Aids To Hearing
(ABOVE) Two eartliest hearing aids, 1600s or earlier.
In the 16th Century, hearing aids were described in the work Magia Naturalis (Magic in Nature). They were hearing horns shaped like the ears of animals known to have sharp hearing, which was thought to gather sound better.
In the 16th Century, sound-gathering funnels were built into walls and ceilings at places of public assembly.
They were to catch gossip and monitor public opinion, of interest to the ruling people. Their scale in this drawing is probably exaggerated.
This 1890's cool dude at the opera, with his cane handle nonchalantly stuck into an ear, hides his hearing loss with a built-in ear trumpet.
This is a cutaway view of the hollow handle, actually a resonating chamber enclosing the horn. Sound enters through the slots below.
King John VI of Portugal, who reigned in the first quarter of the 19th Century, actually sat on his hearing aid. He was very hard of hearing, and the throne had a built-in ear trumpet. A speaker had to kneel and talk into the lion's open mouth on an armrest (Well, you have to kneel before a king anyway).
The sound went into a resonance chamber under the seat, and then through that tube you see with the ear plug, into King John's right ear.
(BELOW) "Ear trumpets", "conversation tubes", and "hearing horns" from the 1902 Sear, Roebuck catalog. ($1.90 back then is about $53 in 2019 dollars). The middle one is shaped to be concealed in the hand, to be less noticeable.
The metal ones were also referred to as "tin horns", and the user (impolitely) as having a "tin ear". (Having a tin ear today describes a person who is insensitive to slight differences in music, and contemptuously to a person who can't grasp the nuances of any kind of system.)
In this absurd design the speaker would need to stand off to the side of the wearer. If several speakers are involved, they'd have to march around the wearer.
One can imagine what the wearer would look like while ballroom dancing...…. or taking up three seats at the opera).
This strange-looking hearing horn used a sea shell to gather and amplify the sound. It took advantage of the nautiloid channel in the shell to amplify the sound and probably worked, though we don't know to what extent.
Beards were prominent on men in the 19th Century. This binaural hearing horn was designed to be worn under the beard, which hid most of it.
Someone with strange ideas about sound amplification, cosmetics, and utility --- designed this hearing device. It was made of thin brass and needed a strong arm to hold in place for long conversations.
This 1885 invention not only funneled the speaker's voice to the hard-of-hearing listener, but funneled her own voice to herself as well. This was to help her monitor the quality of her voice.
There was a classroom version of this, with the instructor's tube branching out like an octopus to each student.
This is a mid-19th Century method for conveying a particular speech sound in speech training of deaf children.
(We are still digging up details on exactly how this method functioned).
This Improved hearing horn contained a diaphragm to amplify the sound.
The ad assures you (should you actually need such assurance) that this thing goes outside, not inside your ear.
The Invisible Artificial Eardrum Hearing Aid
ABOVE) This little "medicated" marvel supposedly replaces a ruptured eardrum -----or amplifies sound against a normal eardrum. It is of thin, flexible rubber about 1/4 inch in diameter. It is inserted into the ear canal ---------the bulbous end rests on the eardrum.
Honest-looking George says it works, so we imagine it does. His advertising claimed he himself "couldn't hear a clap of thunder". But with this marvel, George can "hear a clock ticking 30 feet away !!" Isn't that something ?! It retailed for $5 a pair (like $135 in 2019 dollars).
If it didn't work, it holds history’s longest hoax award. This sort of thing was produced continuously for 70 years from 1840. Competition among brands eventually got them all advertised as deafness cure-alls, earning a quackery ban in 1910 (by the U.S. Post Office, not the sleeping medical profession).
The Wilson Eardrum and the Morely Eardrum, below, are similar. If they worked to any extent, it was because they restored some function to a troubled eardrum.
The Wilson Eardrum, was "the greatest invention of the age", according to its ad, below.
(ABOVE) The Morley Eardrum was a tiny disk of silk (a), slightly larger than the ear canal diameter. It was pushed to the eardrum by a removable fiber tube (e). The disc was oiled to maintain its shape and acoustic seal within the canal. A short thread (d) was tied to it for easy extraction.
Mystery Inventor of the All-In-Ear Hearing Aid
The honor of having written the first published thought for an all-in-the-ear hearing aid, belongs to a polite Englishman, probably deaf. Modestly, he provides only his first name. His letter to a publication for the Deaf was written in 1878, describing what was to come over 100 years later !!
More Early Hearing Aids
(BELOW) The body-worn electric hearing aid, is an American invention. It was patented by Alonzo Miltimore of New York in 1892. The microphone was disguised as a badge or chest ornament. Poor Alonzo couldn't find anyone to finance manufacture, so for him it never got past the patent drawings. He does however, have the honor of holding the first patent for a practical and decent-looking electric hearing aid. Actually, the idea occurred to A.G. Bell before this, but Bell didn't show much diligence in the matter.
The first company to actually manufacture a body-worn hearing aid a decade later, in 1903, was the American firm of Hutchinson Acoustic Co. The action right after that was mostly with firms in America and Germany.
(BELOW) "The new marvelous electrical device that makes the deaf hear" (around 1912). The Auris Company of New York City was one of the first to manufacture electric hearing aids in the United States.
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