Monday, July 28, 2008

Sense - Abilities - # 3 - Transitions in the 70's

Good day friends,

In spite of getting the retinitis pigmentosa diagnosis in 1970, Dad still had fairly good vision. Correctable to 20/25, he was wearing contact lenses and seeing well. He had really taken his natural senses for granted. They were still so good that he continued to drive with no difficulty and became an amateur photographer.

Dad had bought a Minolta 35mm SLR with all the different lenses for telephoto and wide angle shots. He took pictures like a crazy man and had tons of shots of a trip to Hawaii, to Purgatory Ski area to Park City, Utah.

Richard really loved the beauty of the Rocky Mountains: the inspirational and majestic mountain peaks and the snow covered landscapes that gloriously filled the skies. He loved sharing these pictures with his friends as a memory that they would have for a lifetime.

He really loved snow skiing, mostly on the intermediate runs with a black run thrown in every now and then, just to bring him back to earth. He enjoyed jumping 3 to 6 foot jumps and feeling the freedom of flight. What a sense of exhilaration!

Richard loved the smell that was the Rockies. The tall Colorado blue spruce fragrance filled the air with a tart freshness that was invigorating and made him sing, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a beautiful day." He loved to deeply breathe in that fresh mountain air.

He worked for Continental Can Company after graduation as an industrial engineer, moving to Milwaukee in 1975 to work for Schlitz Brewing Company. He married in 1977 and was on top of the world, going to Lake Louise skiing - closer to the top of the world!

Richard then worked for Zenith Radio as a manager, where he and his group of ten industrial engineers helped Zenith reduce its labor cost and move toward automation. He was making his way through the huge picture tube manufacturing plant with ease - no real visual problems yet.

But then things changed as the RP started to get worse. It was now affecting his work life. In 1981 his eyesight had deteriorated to the point that it was not easy for him to do his job as Manager of Industrial Engineering for Zenith’s Picture Tube Division.

“My tunnel vision was worse. I felt uncomfortable negotiating high speed conveyor lines, equipment fork lift trucks and lots of materials stored on the floors. With my tunnel vision getting increasingly worse, I felt I needed to investigate a career change."

Hmmmm, a career change, I've heard that mentioned many times about my fellow guide dogs who do not make it to be a guide dog for a blind person - they got "career-changed." This meant they were placed with another family or given a less complicated job. I could really empathize with Dad.

Next: what did Dad find to do in his "career change?"

Lots of puppy love to all,



Princess Coral said...

Zane, your Dad is amaizing!!!
We are so glad to have met you. I'll be looking forward to what happens next!

Anonymous said...


Your Dad sure sounds old! Gosh, was he really talking about those old fashioned 35mm SLR cameras and something called "TV picture tubes". What ta heck are they anyway? I think whether or not he came down with RP he would have still faced a career change. Does he still like to dance disco and does he still wear those plaid pants and leisure suits too? Perhaps you should introduce him to those new fangled digital cameras and HDTV's. Perhaps some blue jeans too!

All kidding aside Zane, I think he knows that in some ways he's actually a pretty lucky guy. Yea, of course he has you now, but I'm talking about what really matters......he is a pretty healthy guy, good looking (even though his hair is a lot whiter than yours), and he has a wonderful wife, a supportive family, lots of friends and a job that really matters. Nanny (my mother) who was TOTALLY blind, always said that now matter how bad her condition was, she could always find someone else around her that was worse off. At the age of 80 when she needed a triple by-pass, she commented that her heart was bad but at least it still worked. She totally believed that she was the luckiest woman on Earth,right up to the day she passed away a couple years ago now.

As time passes, perhaps Richard's now limited sight will deteriorate even further and that would be not only scary for him, but depressing as well to all who love him. So if you ever see him depressed, give him a big tongue-lashing for me, then look around for someone worse off so he can be reminded just how lucky he really won't be hard for you to do.


Your first "dad", Gary

Zane Train said...

Princess Coral,

Yes, I hear that a LOT. Mom just keeps calling him a stud. But he does not like to hear that, so I know he was embarassed when he read this to me. I'll tell you a secret though, he liked it!

Lots of love, Zane

Zane Train said...


Wow, you really gave Dad a bad time! He was laughing his head off as he read it to me. I've not seen those double-knit clothers you talk about, but I have seen some pictures!

Yes, he just found that old 35mm camera and gave it to Mom to try to sell it on ebay. Who wants that though? Who knows!

We asked Coach Jessica to give us some background on the 4 months that I spent at GDB college and she did. I started writing some new chapters for my blog which will be out soon! Stay tuned to what my GDB training was like.

Dad told me about your trip to the mountains! I think I went with you one on that trip. We had fun fishing. I miss you guys! You always did so many fun things.

Much love and kisses, Zane