Sunday, January 1, 2017

HELEN KELLER EXPEDITION!



On a recent trip through Alabama, I made a visit to the birthplace of Helen Keller,  a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is located in the northern part of the state in Tuscumbia.

The childhood home is called Ivy Green, named after the prolific English ivy growing throughout the property.  It was originally a 620-acre site, where this home was built in 1820. 

This formal brick plaza is located on the grounds adjacent to Ivy Green.
A stone sculpture bust of Helen Keller is the centerpiece of the plaza.   Helen Keller's spiritual autobiography talked about her faith in God.  Because of her tireless work to help the oppressed and handicapped, I am using this as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com  ) memory verses that says, "Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. "  Mark 12:30-31    .


This plaque shows the date of Helen Keller's birth and death, and alludes to her nickname as "The First Lady of Courage".  She was a lady of many "firsts", including the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

On the lawn behind the Ivy Green home, there is a cookhouse, carriage house, and a small cottage.

The well-house pump is also behind the house.  That pump was made famous in the dramatic scene where teacher Anne Sullivan finally gets Helen Keller to understand that the motions she is making on Helen's one hand, correspond to the water Helen is feeling on her other hand, as it pours out of the pump.  That word was W-A-T-E-R, and it became the "gateway" to opening up a way for Helen Keller to learn to communicate with the world around her. 

This expansive lawn behind the home is covered with visitors, during the annual summer-time celebration of Helen Keller's birthday.

The plants and flowers around the property brought pleasure to Helen, as she enjoyed their fragrances and taste and touch. 

From early June to mid July, weekend performances of the famous drama, The Miracle Worker, are held on the premises of Ivy Green.  You can visit their website to learn more about dates and ticket costs for this drama.  It is www.helenkellerbirthplace.org   .

There is a concession stand and restrooms adjacent to the outdoor performance venue, and I was amused by this hand-written note advertising mosquito repellent wipes.  Helen Keller would not have been able to see or hear the performance, but she could definitely feel the bite of a mosquito!  She even referenced "feeling the wings" of insects, in some of her writings!

In 1925, Helen Keller spoke before the Lions International Convention, in Cedar Point, Ohio.  She urged that organization to become "Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness".  The shields on the left represent the hundreds of countries around the globe that have Lions Clubs located in them.  The fact that this association all began with her visit to the Lions International Convention sparked my interest, because when I was a youngster, our family accompanied my father to attend the Lions Club International Convention in Chicago, Illinois.  He was a delegate from his local club in Arkansas.  I have so many VISUAL memories from that trip long ago, my heart is filled with gratitude for the gift of vision, and I am inspired by Helen Keller's determination to provide opportunities, for those who are lacking that gift.  Thank you Helen Keller, and thank you Lions Club!

Her appeal was successful, and now Lions Clubs worldwide, include assistance to the blind and visually impaired, as part of their routine service project work.  You can read about their connection with Helen Keller (including the complete speech she delivered to them in 1925) on their website at www.lionsclubs.org  This glass exhibit case shows the numerous awards of recognition she was given, in conjunction with her work with the Lions Clubs.

This photo shows the "New Zealand Gate".  It was a gift from the Maori people to thank Helen Keller for visiting their country and teaching them about the value of children with visual and hearing disabilities.  Up until that time, those children were outcasts, looked upon as less than human.

The Lions Clubs of Japan gifted this lantern to Helen Keller, and it is now the centerpiece of their Japanese Garden.

On the
far side of the property is this rebuilt "log cabin" that can give visitors a glimpse into the "pioneering" days of Helen Keller's ancestors.

My participation in several Project Learning Tree workshops ( www.plt.org ) aroused my curiosity to see what the sign said at the bottom of this pine tree.

I am really glad that I did, because I read that it was grown from seed that had gone to the moon and back!  Now THAT is a pine cone worth saving!

Tuscumbia has several other historic sites, including the Colbert County Courthouse, shown in this photo. 

This area had been a settlement for Native Americans for hundreds of years, because of the presence of a "Big Spring".  In fact, the town Tuscumbia is named after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaw Indians.   This photo shows a visitor enjoying the scenic walking path in front of the waterfall at Spring Park.
For more information on visiting this charming community, check out their website at www.cityoftuscumbia.org  .    My time there gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia