An article published in The Daily Oklahoman, April 17, 1938.

Blind Man Gets Along Very Well, Thanks


45 Years Sightless Rich in Full Living

By Virginia Nelson

Phillip C. Slack of Edmond has been blind for 45 years. And if you know of any person anywhere who is more successful and well-liked, who leads a richer life, your acquaintance is a very exceptional person indeed.

At 60 years old, Slack is a handsome white-haired man with a host of friends of all ages, a business that does $20,000 a year D.P. (depression prices) – a charming wife and home, and not a neurosis to his name.

Doesn’t Want a Guide

Asked what he thought about the “seeing eye” dogs which are trained to act as guides for blind people, Slack said quickly:

“Ever since the first, I have always rebelled against being dependent on anything or anybody. I can make it all right by myself.”

As a matter of fact, instead of going through life with a figurative “help the blind” hanging around his neck, Slack is often the one who helps the others. Having lived in Edmond, where he has owned a book and magazine store since 1901, he knows the location of every house, knows the streets better than most people with sight.

He Guides Others

He chuckles over this story:

A stranger came to town one day and asked the blind man the way to her sister’s home, some six blocks away. Slack took her bags and personally conducted her to the house. She didn’t know till next day, when she was told, that her guide was sightless!

This is his story:

When he was a boy of 15 in Wisconsin, young Phillip was hunting one Christmas day. His gun was accidentally discharged near his face blinding both his eyes.

The next four years he went to the Janesville, Wis., school for the blind, learning the Braille system, completing his high school education and also learning a trade, piano tuning. The next three and one-half years he spent in Oregon, during which time he made enough money to come to Edmond and buy – partly on credit, to be sure – a small bookshop.

He Distributes Papers

That was in 1901. The next spring he became the Edmond agent for the Daily Oklahoman and Times, making him now the oldest man in point of service on the papers.

The next year he was married to “the girl back home” – a girl he first knew in the school for blind. Mrs. Slack is not, however, blind now. Following an attack of the measles, she temporarily lost her sight and studied for a time at Janesville while her eyes were healing.

“I think there ought to be one pair of eyes in the family,” smiles Slack. But his wife’s experience gives her a closer understanding of his problem.

His business has steadily grown, and in 1917 he built the $7,000 building his store now occupies – designing most of the furniture and cases himself, incidentally. It is all especially arranged so that he can get around easily.

New Inventions Help

The radios and talking pictures were “the biggest thing that ever came into my life,” Slack says, but even before that he was never bored. The library for the blind in the state historical society gets circulating books and magazines printed in Braille; Slack just finished “The Citadel,” by A. J. Cronin, and he is a regular reader of the Reader’s Digest. Also, Slack has one of those “talking book” machines for which he can obtain books in record form from the library. Not long ago he enjoyed Zane Grey’s “The Up Trail” – (in 48 records.)

“I have never seen a football game, but I hardly ever miss one out at the college,” said the bookstorekeeper. One of the boys at Central, where so many of the young people are his close friends, made a model football field for him one time on a piece of board, with nails for the goalposts, and explained the game to him in “Braille,” so to speak. Now Slack can follow the plays with only a little explanation.

Slack has little trouble in running his business. He has his own private system for distinguishing money. Coins are no trouble, of course, and for bills, he uses paper clips – one clip on a five, two on a 10, and so on up to 20. (No clip on a one.) This is for money going out. For money coming in, Slack depends on that strange and almost unfailing streak of honesty which mankind has for the blind. On numberless occasions he has operated the cash-register all day in the rush season, and come out at the end without a dime off-balance.

Phillip Slack was Alice Krumm's brother. Read Alice's memoirs in the links below.

Introduction | Personal Memories | Quotes and Notes | Letters | Newspaper Articles  | Unfinished Stories

Alice Krumm Photo Gallery

Krumm Family Photos | First Settlers in Winneshiek County | 150 years in Winneshiek County | Gottlob Krumm obituary | Gottlob and Regina Krumm | Gottlob and Gottlieb Krumm | genealogy | home
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