Overcoming Handicap
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Handicap, Alternative Amusements and
Self-Generated Goals

The story of David A. McCowan's Phototeria is a story of overcoming obstacles:

As a child, as a youth, as a young man, he stammered lamentably. He could not say "it" without stammering... By sheer grit he conquered this as he won through a multitude of mechanical and technical obstacles in making his phototeria. Today only an occasional hesitation, scarcely noticeable, in his sharp, incisive speech betrays the fact that he once stumbled for utterance.

But this is the point: It was this stammering which was one of the main factors in his success... He could not get up in class to read. He could not take part with the bunch. He was isolated from ordinary contacts, from games, from parties -- or, rather, he isolated himself. He withdrew within himself. He drew on his own strengths for amusement and development. He developed direction and self-reliance... He found everyone kind, everyone sympathetic, if, at times, embarrassed by his tongue-tied stumbling.

In this self-imposed isolation, free from the ordinary distractions of youth, he began to think. He began to concentrate. His mind, with its mechanical bent, turned early to mechanical problems. His hands turned to tools. In his backyard, alone, he was always building railroads and ships.


From Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play

The Scarboro Heights Record V13 #11