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STORY WALL

The Soul of Bash, by Steve Holmes


"These people were helpless and I don’t blame them for being there, I blame their handlers for taking them", he said, and went on to mimic the voices of the two theater goers and invited callers to share their experiences of seeing other people with disabilities in the community, "drooling all over the place". This was the start of a two day barrage of jokes and insults aimed at all people with disabilities. It was also the start of one the most interesting experiences of Mary Ann’s life.

Mary Ann uses an electric wheelchair to get around but does quite well on her own. Each morning an aide comes to help with her personal care needs and things like cleaning hard to reach places in her home and also the aide does her food shopping. Mary Ann has lived in her apartment in the Arbor Hill section of Albany for two years. It’s in an all black neighborhood and Mary Ann is the only white person who lives in the building at this time. She is also the youngest by far. She took the apartment because it was the only one available and it was ‘time for her to get out on her own’. Not that her parents weren’t wonderful, but living at home at 28 was just to much for a young woman who wanted her independence, not to mention some occasional privacy with her friends.

Her parents and family members were all a little concerned about the neighborhood she had moved into but those concerns quickly evaporated as the older women in her building immediately ‘adopted’ Mary Ann. And Mary Ann adopted them as well. It became a mutual admiration and support society. Her older friends looked after her and she helped them with problems with their benefit checks and other government matters, using the skills she was learning at SUNY School of Social Work where she was studying for her MSW.

Mary Ann would often watch her favorite programs in the common room on the first floor with several of her older friends. That’s where she headed now. She had to talk with someone about PU Bash and his tirade about people with disabilities.

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