Today's book has a Chicago connection (also a new category on this blog), which is one of the reasons I chose it. The other reason was that I was taken by the story behind the story.
The author of The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story (Blue Point Books, 236 pages, $19.95, paperback), Rosalind Perlman, died at age 93 in 2004, three years before the book would be published. ...
Rosalind became fascinated by the story of Dr. Bolotin through her husband, Alfred Perlman, whom she married in Chicago in 1938. Alfred was Dr. Bolotin's nephew.
The book , much like all the elementary biogrphies I read in grammar school, is easy reading — a straight, chronological telling of Jacob Bolotin's life, from his humble beginnings as the youngest of seven children born to poor Jewish parents in Chicago in 1888, to his premature death at age 36. The story of his hardscrabble life in between is what will keep you turning the pages.
Jacob and his brother Fred, who also was blind from birth (as was a sister, Sarah), were sent to the Illinois State School for the Blind in Jacksonville, and remained there for nine years. The boys thrived, especially Jacob, who boasted he could read Braille through 16 handkerchiefs — and proved it one day in front of the entire student body.
When the two graduated, Jacob hit the pavement looking for work. No one would hire a blind man, but Jacob learned his way around the city and would not give up. Someone cut him a break one day and gave him a box of matches to sell. Jacob went on from there to become the top salesman at the Bennett Typewriter Company.
But sales was not his dream. Jacob wanted to become a doctor. And he did, through much hard work and determination — he had to work four more years selling typewriters before he saved enough money to go to medical school. When he graduated he faced more hardship, as no one would go to see a blind doctor and he could only find volunteer work in hospitals. Eventually he was able to sustain a private practice went on to become a leading advocate for the blind.
Rosalind Perlman promised her husband, Alfred, upon his death in 2001, at age 92, that she would get this story published, and upon her own death three years later, she left a bequest to the Santa Barbara Foundation (the couple moved from Chicago to California in 1952) to make sure the book was published and to establish an annual award to be given through the National Federation of the Blind. Proceeds from the book go to the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust and the first award will be presented in 2008.
Note: A large-print edition of this book is also available for $24.95 through Blue Point Books. I wonder if a Braille edition or audio book is available for all those blind students out there who would undoubtedly find inspiration within its pages.