Dana Gibson dies at 96: Play Woman and Kazoo Impresario
On Wednesday March 3, Dana Gibson died of a lung an infection on the age of 96. She was greatest identified in Santa Cruz because the founding actions director of Cabrillo School Stroke Heart, however in her self-deriving fashion she referred to as herself the Play Woman, making life enjoyable for her college students even with a incapacity. The concepts she used had been drawn from a lifetime of expertise.
Her mom was Hope S. Potter, who throughout an April Idiot’s Day blizzard in 1924 was heading to a hilltop hospital to provide beginning. The driving talent of Hope’s sister-in-law, Mona Belle, made them the final to make it to the hospital earlier than the street closed. So that they named the infant “Mona Belle” in her honor (though later generally known as Dana). She was somewhat child, so that they nicknamed her “Teensy Babe”, and a few referred to as her “Teense” for the remainder of her life.
Teense misplaced a part of her listening to to scarlet fever when she was a toddler. Throughout troublesome occasions, the household lived with relations in Watertown, Massachusetts. Then in 1929, his father Poppy obtained a job with Louis Blaustein at AMOCO Oil in Baltimore, and so they purchased a home within the suburb of Owings Mills.
Their subsequent door neighbors had been the dad and mom of stage and comedic movie actress Mildred Natwick. Hopie labored for the Maryland Division of Schooling, specializing in problematic boys from poor neighborhoods, establishing grownup teaching programs for his or her dad and mom, and finally founding Highwood Different College for Boys.
When Teense was 10 years outdated in 1934, her Down syndrome brother, Louie Jr., was born. Teense grew to become his major caretaker and, together with Hopie, helped Louie create routines and even learn. Teense’s godparents gave her a scholarship to Hannah Moore Academy via highschool. Her authentic class had solely three college students, however they’ve turn out to be lifelong mates. This included piano prodigy Maude Corridor (Fleuchère), who entered the Peabody Institute on the age of 11.
The Second World Conflict
World Conflict II was significantly disturbing in Baltimore, a port metropolis with sightings of German submarines. Though episcopal, the Potters had a detailed circle of Jewish mates at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Teense was additionally mates with a boy and woman within the neighborhood, whose father was pro-Hitler regardless of his youngsters’s disapproval. At some point she noticed the kids depart with tears of their eyes as a result of their father was taking them to reside in Nazi Germany.
After graduating in 1942, Teense obtained a job at a publishing home as a medical e book proofreader. She designed e book jackets and wrote articles for the corporate’s publication, which caught the eye of Bernard Springer, who heads the German language publishing division.
When he grew to become a German translator for the US Military, Springer educated Teense to design and illustrate unsolicited mail e book advertising campaigns, giving him his personal workplace and secretary whereas he was away. She additionally reread authorities secret codes to confirm their accuracy (with out understanding their which means). At some point, she overheard a pleasant couple attempting to enter the publishing home with another person’s password, and so they turned out to be Nazi spies. When Mr. Springer returned to his job, Teense regarded for a brand new place.
By means of Hopie’s Johns Hopkins connections, Teense obtained a job with Dr. Helen Taussig, well-known for locating the reason for Blue Child Syndrome and performing the world’s first coronary heart operations. Teense and Sallie Howe had been employed to assist 100 youngsters with rheumatic fever get better from mattress relaxation at residence. The purpose was to boost consciousness in poor black and white neighborhoods that didn’t have entry to convalescent hospitals. Dana helped begin the Keep-In-Mattress Membership, with crafts and actions to maintain youngsters entertained in mattress. On the finish of this system, the kids gathered for a celebration. The Baltimore Solar lined it up and, at Dana’s urging, included a hardly ever allowed photograph exhibiting black and white youngsters collectively.
When the battle ended, Teense and a pal determined to tour america by bus. She modified her identify to Dana Potter, to ascertain her personal identification. Once they obtained to San Francisco, Dana first felt at residence, so she offered the opposite half of the spherical journey ticket. Shirley Beneke was a pal at her boarding home and took her on a visit to Santa Cruz, the place they determined to turn out to be companions at an Ocean Avenue florist. Dana’s dad and mom moved to a home in Westside in 1949 to be close to her. Dana met a good-looking ex-GI named Invoice Gibson, and their mutual love for the books led to a love for one another. They married and lived in Capitola, the place they’d two youngsters, myself in 1955 and my sister Kati in 1957.
Throughout World Conflict II, Invoice had been one of many few survivors of a German POW camp, and his need to assist folks stemmed from his personal post-traumatic stress dysfunction. With Dana’s encouragement, he grew to become a Methodist minister, and the household lived in small cities throughout northern California, from the coast, to the Central Valley, to the Sierra foothills.
I caught polio in 1964 after I was 9, and needed to be residence schooled by Dana for a 12 months. It was our personal Keep-In-Mattress membership, with artwork, historical past, and a narrative learn aloud by her or dad. Dana was the city librarian, but I had been a foul reader. Dana’s answer was a Columbia Theater Radio Performs e book, dividing the elements between us. I had a lot enjoyable studying my elements that I began writing performs, which improved my studying and writing abilities. Dana was a Cubs den mom, and later a Brownie advisor for my sister’s recognition group.
I returned to Santa Cruz in 1973 to handle my grandmother and my uncle with Down’s syndrome whereas going to school. When Invoice retired, he and Dana returned to city in 1974 and lived in Neary Lagoon. Dana returned to school, whereas doing odd jobs as Skeerole on the boardwalk, night time nurse for Alice Earl Wilder, and in 1975 grew to become a recreation therapist at Batterson’s Convalescent Hospital on Matison Lane in Capitola. His essential thesis instructed the story of those that lived at Batterson’s home, whereas his grasp’s thesis gave the therapeutic worth of the Kazoo. She graduated in 1978, with a barefoot William Everson reciting poetry beneath a veil of cleaning soap bubbles. It was the identical 12 months her marriage ended, albeit amicably.
The Cabrillo School Stroke Heart had simply moved to De Laveaga Park in 1976, and Edie Nelson employed Dana because the director of the founding actions of the Stroke Heart quickly after. However Cabrillo shut it down in 1978, fearing state regulation would threaten credit-less lessons. Edie labored to show lessons into a tutorial program, and with the assistance of Senator Harry Mello and the wheelchair and crutches protesters within the state capital, the Stroke Heart was rescued.
Enrolling as college students as a substitute of sufferers was a lift in vanity, because it put folks with disabilities in control of their very own development, which required a willingness to behave. The purpose was to not regain full perform if that was now not doable, however to search out different technique of conducting the specified capabilities. They had been college students in disaster of their lives, typically withdrawn and depressed, and it was Dana’s job to make life price residing. She organized a Kazoo group referred to as the “Humdingers”.
She discovered that individuals who had misplaced their speech or singing voice might nonetheless hum, which helped them take part. Plus, it inspired deep respiration. There have been actions of sitting “Dancercize”, and throwing the bean bag at one another, whereas mentioning the identify of the individual you might be throwing at. It pressured folks to talk even with restricted verbal potential. Board video games require gamers to observe the motion, observe factors, manipulate sport items, and discuss on each flip.
As a former florist, Dana cherished to work in backyard soil. So her “Adaptive Gardening” class had raised beds, the place college students might potted vegetation, carve bonsai bushes, and create objects they might promote to boost funds for subject journeys. They even arrange a gazebo yearly on the county truthful. In collaboration with golf professional Gary Loustalot, they created the “Adaptive Golf” class, permitting college students to putter both seated with a brief membership or one-handed with bracelets.
Individuals who feared that their incapacity was an element of isolation, discovered themselves in a program on the forefront of life. Clergy from a lot of the native church buildings got here to debate their very own religion and reply questions from Dana’s comparative faith class. Native and state politicians got here to debate or clarify political points and applications. Dana’s subject journeys had been adventures in themselves, giving folks the reassurance that their limitations didn’t preclude residing life to the fullest.
Extra than simply lessons, it was life altering and a deep bonding expertise that created lifelong friendships. A lot of those that had accomplished the two-year program returned to work beneath Dana, who was the director of volunteers, and arranged a preferred year-end celebration for the volunteers. In 1985, those that needed a continuation and mainstreaming program joined Dana and the Stroke Membership to create the VIVA (which stands for Very important Values) program, via Watsonville Grownup College, then branches in Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. Dana has additionally taught recreation therapist certification programs within the state of California.
In 2000, she raised probably the most cash for the Stroke Heart, successful a two-week journey to Paris and northern France. On November 21, 1991, and once more on November 17, 2004, he was proclaimed “Dana Gibson Day” by the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville, County, and by the State Senate and Legislature. Then in 2007, 83-year-old Dana had macular degeneration in each eyes, and the operation left solely peripheral imaginative and prescient. It additionally destroyed her listening to, as she was unaware of how a lot she relied on lip studying to compensate for partial listening to loss. She reluctantly retired, simply earlier than the Stroke Heart moved to the Cabrillo campus in Aptos. However the VIVA program didn’t survive his retirement.
I took care of her in her later years as she went from a cane to a wheelchair. However ultimately, she was playful, with a infantile curiosity in studying new issues, studying audiobooks, maintaining with the information, and making jokes. She was all the time “Ginger Peachy”, even when she was on the bottom, and her oft-repeated phrase was, “I am pleased to be alive!”
Ross Eric Gibson is a former historical past columnist for the San Jose Mercury Information and Santa Cruz Sentinel.