Before I became a cartoonist, I was a writer. The Significance of Reality was my weekly humor column, and the source material for this book. But the story of The Census Taker and Other Deaf Humor actually starts years before, at the North Carolina School for the Deaf (NCSD).
The deaf school experience is special and dear to the heart of many Deaf adults. I am no exception. One of my favorite memories at NCSD is watching my friends trade funny stories. They’d absorb what we saw or read, and retell it in different ways, searching for the greatest impact. Cinematic pratfalls were epic. Zingers flew in the air. Laughter bounced off the walls.
I hope The Census Taker captures this feeling; the short vignettes here a snapshot of the Deaf experience. I hope they’re worthy of your cinematic retelling.
The Census Taker
He walks up the street in the sticky hours of the morning, emerging from the fog to ring doorbells. Once the door opens, he quickly holds up a clipboard. “I am taking a census. Are any of the members of the household deaf or hard of hearing?” More often than not, the door slams. But fortunately, there are a few who are willing to answer the visitor.
Albert Groze is a census-taker. He is deaf. Born without the ability to hear birdsong or the melodious cacophony of music, Albert would forever live in a world of silence. His parents, Harold and Edna Groze of Annapolis, Maryland, were heartbroken when they noticed he wasn’t responding to their calls. “I would sneak up behind Albert and bang pots and pans together in hopes of him hearing me. It always made me cry when he turned around, but later we realized he was feeling the vibrations,” Edna Groze remembers. “Harold and I, we took him to the audiologist, and they told us . . .” Her voice breaks.