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Grandma and the Great God “Doctor”:

Gran’s coloring was extremely fair. In fact, when she was young she looked like she was nearly albino. She also had appalling eyesight. No real albino is likely to have had worse.

Gran did not admire her own coloring, and she, understandably, did not cherish her myopia. That my Grandfather had dark hair and eyes, and excellent vision, were probably comforting reflections to her, from a eugenic standpoint, when she agreed to marry him.

The two of them went on to produce a family of six children. Five of these children were blue-eyed blondes.

Five of them had appalling eyesight.

The two groups, however, were not an exact match. Ma, one of the blondes, actually didn’t need to wear glasses until her 20s, and then, (and for the next thirty years) went about boasting that she had an astigmatism, as if it was something remarkable.

Aunt Dodie was her generation’s only brunette. She was also a bright-eyed, alert little thing, and, since she had inherited her father’s coloring, it never occurred to Gran to question that she had also inherited his flawless vision as well. So, when Dodie finally reached school and it was discovered that she couldn’t see the blackboard, Gran was appalled at her own complacency.

She duly hauled Dodie off to The Optometrist.

The Doctor stood Dodie on the white line, pointed her in the direction of the eye chart and told her to read as far as she could. Dodie stood there, frowning thoughtfully, saying nothing at all.

Well, first the three of them had a little go-round as to whether Dodie knew the alphabet.

She did.

So he repeated his directions.

Dodie stood mute.

“Well,” he said, impatiently, “Can’t you even guess?”.

Gran exploded. She asked him what kind of a doctor he was — if he was a doctor — and wanted to know what sort of responsible practitioner could possibly consider instructing a patient to guess in such a situation, demanding; “What if she guessed right?”.

Suffice it to say, Gran then took Dodie off to a different Optometrist. One who instructed her to step closer, and closer to the chart until she could read the letters on it. He discovered that Dodie was very nearly blind. (As were also my Aunt Ethel and Uncle Bronty) Gran was mortified, and never took such things for granted again.

I suspect that Aunt Margie and Uncle Bronty’s terrible eyesight were discovered some years earlier than they might otherwise have been because of it.