In the Dark on the Sunny Side: A Memoir of an Out-of-Sight by Larry Baggett

By Larry Baggett

Misfortune struck one June day in 1944, whilst a five-year-old boy used to be eternally blinded following an twist of fate he suffered with a paring knife. Few humans develop into across the world famous examine mathematicians and famously profitable college professors of that erudite topic, and never strangely a minuscule variety of these few are visually impaired. in the dead of night at the Sunny facet tells the tale of 1 such person. Larry Baggett was once main-streamed at school lengthy ahead of main-streaming used to be in any respect universal. On nearly each get together he used to be the 1st blind individual keen on no matter what used to be occurring the 1st blind pupil enrolled within the Orlando Public university process, the 1st blind scholar admitted to Davidson university, and the 1st blind doctoral pupil in arithmetic on the collage of Washington. in addition to describing a few of the successes and screw ups Baggett skilled dwelling at midnight at the sunny part, he monitors during this quantity his love of math and tune by way of interspersing brief musings on either issues, equivalent to discussing the best way to determine what percentage dominoes are in a collection, the intricacies of jazz chord progressions, and the mysterious Comma of Pythagoras.

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Extra info for In the Dark on the Sunny Side: A Memoir of an Out-of-Sight Mathematician

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Louis had lost his sight due to an accident, something like my own, for he had stuck a carpenter’s awl in his eye. I can only presume that our old nemesis sympathetic ophthalmia squashed his other one. The irony is that, when he invented in the 1820s his method for producing a tactile alphabet so the blind could read, the implement he chose to punch the braille holes in the paper was a carpenter’s awl. Could it have been the very one? Now we call that braille-writing implement a stylus. Once, in the mid 1980s, Christy and I were visiting Paris, and we happened to wander into the poorly lit basement of the Pantheon.

Apparently the only effect of that treatment was that every time I hear the name Rumpelstiltskin I feel like I have to urinate. Then, they tried what was the relatively new drug penicillin. In its early days, it was known as a “wonder drug,” and I’m sure the doctors hoped it would kill off the infection with which they figured I was afflicted. Every four hours I got a shot of that stuff for a week or two. My poor dad turned out later to be allergic to penicillin, breaking out in a terrible rash, and I can only hypothesize that the allergy resulted from his unconsciously suffering along with me during those treatments.

The first thing I remember trying was what was colloquially called a “hotbox” treatment. I can only presume that the doctors were hoping that my vision problem was the result of my suffering from some kind of massive infection, which could be treated by raising my body temperature. The treatment consisted of weekly insertions of my five-year-old body into an ironlung-like apparatus, in which they could run the temperature up to whatever degree they chose. I have no idea how high they put it, but I remember being really uncomfortable, just too blasted hot.

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