William is a little deaf boy in Copper Star who steals the show. Only four years old, William holds the secret to a great tragedy in his family. And yet, he is unable to communicate his knowledge in words.
Instead, he uses what any ordinary boy would do when trying to make a point.
He uses mischief.
In the 1940s, deaf and dumb went together like salt and pepper. The consensus of that day was to wait and send a boy like William to boarding school to learn sign language when he was old enough.
Louise and Spencer Tracy (yes, THE Spencer Tracy) had a deaf son named John. Louise Tracy was a woman far ahead of her times. She taught her son to communicate using lip reading and speaking while he was still a preschooler. Her work with John was so successful that she and her husband created a foundation–using correspondence courses–to help deaf children learn to communicate. Since then, the John Tracy Clinic has benefited over 60,000 families in countries all over the world.
Founded in 1942, the John Tracy Clinic was written into the storyline of Copper Star (which was set in 1943). The clinic was extremely helpful and supportive to me as I wrote this novel.
John Tracy went on to have a wonderful career at the Disney Studios. Despite a bout of childhood polio, despite going blind later in life, he was known for his positive, upbeat attitude.
John Tracy died last week of natural causes and will be buried tomorrow, June 30th, the very day Copper Star is released.
I feel as if I lost someone, too!
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).