Wednesday, February 5, 2020

To be seen, but not to be heard

What the Deaf Man Heard - Hallmark DVD
1997 What the Deaf Man Heard

When my father finally admitted that he needed a hearing aid, we sighed with relief. Decades of handling farm equipment had damaged his hearing as it had to all the other farmers his age.  We tired of repeating and dealing with his frustration, and I am guessing other families did as well.

We made some assumptions just how much he could hear with his new hearing aids. They weren’t 100% and has a tired old acronym: to assume makes an ass of you and me.

That is what we did, thinking we could talk in the kitchen and he would not hear what we said from the living room. We discovered this early on, which was fortunate.


 YouTube: 10 min. "Making of Deaf Man

In a 1997 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, What the Deaf Man Heard**, Sammy (played by Matthew Modine) is left on a bus when his mother is murdered. She had always and repeatedly warned him to “keep quiet”, which Sammy took to the extreme. The bus station manager and wife informally adopt him, believing him to be deaf and mute.

As Sammy feigns being deaf and mute, the small community grows to accept it and he becomes invisible to them. He shows talent as a gardener, leading him to be involved in the lives of the elite. Over 20 years, Sammy uses this as a shield and learns a heck of a lot of secrets.

Therein lies the whole purpose of this blog: 

What would you do? Could you be like 

Sammy for 20 years? Could you be invisible? Do you know people who fit in this category?

**Cast: Matthew Modine, Claire Bloom, Judith Ivey, James Earl Jones,  Tom Skerritt, Frankie Muniz, Bernadette Peters

The above YouTube clip is about the making of the movie. It is 10 minutes long, but shows much about the challenges of the south in post WW2, discrimination, treatment of people with disabilities, class structures, etc.


  Worth watching in parts

43 comments:

  1. This is a sad story in many levels to me. But could I be quiet for 20 yrs. Oh you know the answer to this Susan. :-)

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    1. It would be a challenge for sure. I could do a few days maybe.

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  3. Quiet for twenty years? Twenty days, maybe. But not that long!

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    1. My husband talks a lot, esp. when I first get up before my tea.

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  4. Not sure I could stay silent for 20 minutes! What an amazing story. I'm off to watch the making of the movie.

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    1. It surprised me way back then. Had no idea what it would be.

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  5. I remember that movie. A bit convenient in the ending, but cute otherwise.

    I do remain quiet most of the time as I have nothing to say. But around people I know, it would be harder. I don't think I could do it. At a certain point, you just need to get things off your chest.

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    1. When I am with a group I also find it harder to be quiet, esp. if I think they are silly or insipid.
      I am a little off today. I tripped yest. and had a bit of a scrape up. Nothing major but I have some bruises.

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  6. I was raised by parents who encouraged me to be open and assertive. As a result I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. I would not have been able to stay silent for more than a couple of minutes.

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  7. In a crowd, particularly a crowd of people I don't know? Yes. Twenty years is pushing it though.

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    1. To be silent for 20 years is hard to imagine.

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  8. Impossible for me but would like to see that movie.

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  9. Could I do it? Days like this, an hour is a chore...

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    1. 1997 was 23 years ago, hard to believe. I hope you give it view.

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  11. The movie sounds terribly sad.

    I am somewhat obsessed with expressing myself so I could not keep quiet for long.

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    1. It could be sad, but it really isn't. Life in the town has and will happier from his actions.

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  12. Goodness! What a story!
    I think I would struggle to stay silent for 20 minutes!

    All the best Jan

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    1. I could if the house was completely silent, I think.

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  13. I'd struggle to be quiet for 20 minutes. Looks an interesting film though.

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  14. It looks like a good movie. I couldn't possibly pretend for 20 years, maybe for 20 seconds but after that I'm sure my face would show that I'd heard what people were saying.

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  15. Hi Susan - I must say I'd love to see the movie ... and I did enjoy the clip. I'm sure I could never keep quiet - but back 70 - 60 years ago ... I'm sure for a kid it would be possible ... strange, but possible in his circumstances. thanks for telling us about this - I know I'll remember it and I'm sure talk about it! Cheers Hilary

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  16. I've done it with headphones way back when, pretended they were on when they weren't. Hear a whole lot haha not sure I'd want to do it for 20 years though.

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  17. What a fascinating concept for a movie or book.

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  18. YOu have to appreciate the ideas from left field. YES convincing us hard of hearing to get help is at times impossible. The hearing aid takes some getting used to that is for sure.
    BUT it is a great story line, but nope, I don't think I could handle it. HOWEVER I can see how one becoming 'invisible' could learn the real from the fake lives.
    Great entry
    Sherry & jack

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    1. Being invisible to other people would be demoralizing.

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  19. If it was a matter of life and death, taking it one day at a time, I might have limited success. I can't imagine I'd last over a year, at best. But I guess maybe you could fall into a routine.

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    1. I think I could last for an hour, or maybe. But this would take a lot of practice.

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  20. The problem with putting off getting hearing aids, and the research says the average person puts it off for 10 years from the time it could first help, is that the auditory input portions of the brain get bored and start doing other jobs. Thus by the time a person gets a hearing aid, s/he often complains voices and words just don't sound right, and indeed they do not, the auditory areas of the brain are out of practice interpreting those sounds. Yes, there is research supporting this, so it's very important that all of us put vanity aside and get hearing aids as soon as they become medically needed.

    No, i do not think i could live a long time pretending not to hear, i would slip up and give myself away. Being silent, i might be able to do that with practice, but pretending not to hear anything, that would be tough.

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  21. My father used to say, one must think twice before saying anything; never say or do anything on the spur of the moment. That has sort of stuck with me. And, I don't respond immediately, preferring to be quiet.

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  22. My mom needs a hearing aid too, but she won't admit it and address me sharply if I bring it up. Le Sigh. So, I yell when I visit. :) She can hear me on the phone. I'm glad your dad got his and you figured out where the new range for what he could and could not hear. I'm sure it was an instant relief to him too! And no, I couldn't be silent for 20 years. :)

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!