I was born in 1849, and as a child grew up in the La Grange area of Chicago. My father owned his own bank, and my mom raised my older sister, and my younger brother and I to be the perfect children. As kids, we had a wonderful life, but sometimes it was a little hard living up to my motherís standards.
My momís best friend was a lady that we called Aunt Hester, even though she really was no relation to us. Hester often came over to our house with her 2 children, and the 5 of us would play together. When I was around 4, my older sister Ruth, and Hesterís oldest son Jacob went off to school, so that left me alone, to play by myself, as my brother John and Hesterís son James were about the same age and would play together in Johnís room with their boysí toys. As a result I would sit in the parlor with mom and Aunt Hester. Aunt Hester wore glasses. I had never seen anyone else who wore glasses, so I was more than a bit intrigued by her glasses. She was wearing them when she and her boys arrived at the house, but she always took them off and set them on the table beside her while she and mom were visiting. But I noticed that if she got out of the chair to go anywhere, such as the kitchen, or the bathroom, she would immediately put her glasses on before she moved from the chair. When Hesterís glasses were sitting on the table they were placed in such a way that I often could look through the lenses. I would try to maneuver myself so that I could look through the lenses without being too obvious about doing that. I was fascinated by the way that the lenses made everything look so tiny, but oh so very clear when I looked through them.
Since it was no fun playing with the boys, I spent my time reading, and drawing pictures on scraps of paper. I had noticed that Aunt Hester always brought everything that she looked at up quite close to her nose when she didnít have her glasses on, and I guess that I thought that if I did the same thing maybe I might be able to wear glasses when I got older. So, I started to bring the books that I read constantly to within about eight or nine inches from my eyes. Of course my mom would tell me to get my nose out of that book every time she saw me doing this, but she was usually more interested in other things, so I spent a lot of my time with my nose literally buried in my book.
One day after my mom yelled at me, Hester said to her that I might be shortsighted like she was, and maybe I needed glasses. This upset my mother even more, and she told Hester that there was nothing wrong with my eyes, and anyway no one in either her family, nor my dads family had ever had to wear glasses, and there was no way that I was going to be the first.
By now I was getting close to being 6 years old, and I was starting school the next year. Once in a while, if my mom had to go somewhere without children, my brother and I would go to Hesterís house and stay there for the day. One day while the two boys were playing in Jamesís room, and I was sitting in the parlor reading, Hester looked at me with my nose buried in my book.
"I know that your mother doesnít think it possible, but I am almost positive that you are shortsighted Marsha. Would you like to try on one of my old pairs of glasses?" Hester asked.
I shyly nodded my head up and down to indicate that I would. Hester went up the stairs and came back with 3 pairs of glasses. She let me put one pair on, and I looked around the room. Things didnít look much different. Everything was slightly smaller, but also very clear and intense. Hester pointed out a needlework saying on the wall, and asked me if I could read what it said.
"No, I canít read it." I said, even though I could see it perfectly, and had in fact memorized what it said long ago.
"Take the glasses off and see if you can read it." Hester said.
"No, I still canít read it." I replied.
"Well, this pair of glasses is a bit stronger. Now can you read the message?" Hester asked after I had put on the glasses.
" A Wo woman womanís." I pretended to struggle to try to read it.
"I think you might need even stronger lenses. You seem to be very shortsighted child." Hester said as she handed me the third pair of her old glasses to put on.
"A Womanís Work Is Never Done." I read using the third pair of glasses.
In actual fact this pair of glasses was a little too strong for my eyes to see through without a bit of a struggle. After wearing them the rest of the morning I was able to focus very well, and everything was a lot smaller than I was used to seeing them, but now I could see things as clearly as I could without the glasses. Hester let me wear her old glasses for the rest of the day, and I only took them off when I heard my motherís voice as Hester opened the front door.
Hester and my mother had a long conversation about my eyesight. Hester told mom how she had used her old glasses to check my eyesight, and she told her that it appeared that I could see quite well with a fairly strong pair of her old glasses. Mother was quite angry with Hester for having let me wear an old pair of her glasses.
"You can be as upset with me as you want Helen. But the fact is that Marsha appears to be quite shortsighted, and she shouldnít be starting school without an eye exam and possibly a pair of proper glasses. I didnít get my first glasses until I was in sixth grade, and I was almost going to fail my school year. Marsha still couldnít see properly even when she was wearing my second old pair of glasses, and it wasnít until I gave her my third, even stronger pair to try that she was able to see that sampler on the wall." Hester replied.
Mother finally calmed down, and I believed that she understood what Hester was trying to tell her. She came into the parlor and sat down beside me.
"Do you really see better with your Aunt Hesterís old glasses Marsha?" Mother asked.
"I do mommy. I see really good when I have them on." I replied.
"Well, as much as I hate to think it, I suppose that Hester could be correct, and you are quite shortsighted. Hester said that if you want, you can wear her old glasses until we can get you an appointment with an optician so he can test your eyes properly. Do you want to do that?" Mom asked me.
"Yes mommy, I would. Now everything is blurry when I take off the glasses." I replied.
With that I put Aunt Hesterís old glasses back on and I wore them constantly from then on. I had a table beside my bed, and when the gas lights went out in the evening and I went to bed I would carefully take my glasses off, and set them on the table. Then, as soon as I awoke the next morning, the first thing I did before I opened my eyes was to put my glasses on. When I was by myself reading I would still bring my book right up as close to my nose as I could, but when my mom was around I would hold the book around a foot or better away from my face. It was about 3 months before school started when I first started wearing Hesterís glasses, and my mom had tried to get an appointment with the man who examined eyes for me, but he was very busy, and the soonest I could get in to see him was during the week before school.
The day before my appointment I took Hesterís glasses off for the first time. I was shocked. Everything was now really blurry, even things that were a short distance away. I hurriedly put the glasses back on and I realized that my eyes were probably always going to be trapped behind 2 pieces of glass for the rest of my life. But I was not upset about this. I was proud that I would now be a glasses wearer forever. I enjoyed the feeling of wearing glasses, and I knew that I was now different from the rest of the children my age.
My mother didnít want me to wear Aunt Hesterís glasses to my eye examination, but I truthfully insisted that I couldnít see without them, and I really needed them. So she relented, and off we went. We dropped my brother at Aunt Hesterís place, and mom and I took the trolley downtown.
The elderly man, who divided his time between prescribing glasses and fixing watches, took me into a little room, and sat me down on a chair. He took off my glasses, and did something with them, but I couldnít see what he was doing very well. It looked as if he was holding something up to the glasses and he was looking through them. Then he placed some kind of thing in front of my face. He put a lens in front of my left eye that was solid and I couldnít see anything through it. In front of the other lens he put a lens that must have been very similar to the one in Aunt Hesterís glasses that I had been wearing. He asked me to read the letters that were on a chart on the wall. I told him I could read the top letter, but that it was fuzzy. He changed the lens that I was looking through, and I told him it was clear now, but I couldnít read the next line very well. Then I think he must have gone to a much higher number lens, because now I had to struggle a bit to see the letters. This time I read all the letters that he wanted me to read. Then he changed sides for the blank lens, but instead of repeating the process with the lower powered lens he just gave me the same lens that I had been able to see through with my right eye. Again it was hard to see the letters on the bottom line but I managed. After that he put the same lens in front of my right eye again, and he asked me to read the chart with both eyes together. It was much easier when I was using both eyes. He then switched lenses in both eyes with another lens, and asked me if things were more distinct. I felt that it was easier to see with this pair of lenses so I was pretty sure he had switched the lenses for a pair that were not as strong. I told him the first pair of lenses had been better. He put them back in, and asked me to read the chart again. I did, and then he put another set of lenses in. I could tell that these lenses were stronger, so I read the chart again, and I told him that these lenses were a lot better.
They had to order my new glasses. I chose a frame much like the glasses I had been wearing, a gold wire frame with oval lenses, and earpieces that curled around my ears. It was going to be a couple of weeks before I got them, because my prescription was apparently very strong. My new lenses were going to be a number 6, according to what the doctor told my mother. He also told her that my prescription was the strongest he had ever prescribed for a child of my age.
When my glasses were ready I was thrilled to get them. It was a little hard to wear them at first, because they were definitely stronger than I needed. But after a couple of weeks I became used to the overcorrection, and the new glasses became an essential part of me.
At school I was the only student in the entire school who wore glasses. This made me feel very special, even though some of the others, especially boys, called me 4 eyes. But I didnít care, because this is exactly what I wanted. Our school went from grade 1 to grade 8, and there were around 32 students in each class. Out of the 8 teachers there were 3 who wore glasses, but none of them wore the same kind of lenses I did. They wore lenses that made their eyes look bigger. So I was the only shortsighted person in the whole school.
I was very satisfied with my glasses. So, during my first grade year I started to bring my reading materials to a proper distance from my glasses. I no longer literally had my nose buried in a book, although I know I read a lot more books than the other students did. When I passed into second grade I was still feeling that my glasses were just a little stronger than I actually needed, and I really wasnít in a big hurry to increase my prescription any more at this point in time.
Before I went back for grade 3 my mom took me for another eye exam. This time I didnít try to get the man to give me stronger lenses, so I just read the lines he pointed out without any trouble. Back at school I was still the only student who wore glasses, but that year we had a new teacher for grade 7. Elaine Courtney was her name, and she was so young that I suspected she had just graduated from high school the previous year, although I knew that she must have taken her year of instructions to become a teacher. I couldnít keep my eyes off her. Miss Courtney wore the strongest glasses I had ever seen in my life. At our home we had a goldfish bowl with a bottom that was like an extremely strong minus lens. When there were no fish in the bowl I would often turn the bowl over and look through the bottom and I was amazed at how tiny this made everything look. Miss Courtneyís glasses looked to be every bit as strong.
I looked at Miss Courtney every time I passed her in the hall. I loved her thick glasses and the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I also wanted very strong lenses in my glasses. So, gradually my reading habits changed, to where my nose became buried in my books again. I didnít notice anything right away, but I was certain that after a few months of doing this, things were blurry at a distance. By June of that year I could no longer make out what was written on the chalkboard, and I already sat in the front row.
I guess I had been squinting most of the time whenever I looked at things in the distance, because one day before the school year ended I had been walking in the hall, and Miss Courtney was coming the other way. She looked at me and stopped.
"I think it is possible that you might need new glasses young lady. Have you had your eyes checked recently?" Miss Courtney asked me.
"I had them tested last summer, and I wasnít supposed to go back until a year from August unless I had problems. But now my mom will probably take me again before I go back to grade 4 if I tell her I canít see very well." I replied.
"Just make sure that you do tell her. It doesnít matter how strong your glasses need to be as long as you can see well." Miss Courtney said.
"But yours are really strong. Can you see all right?" I blurted out.
"According to my doctor, I have quite good eyesight for someone with such a strong prescription. Hopefully I wonít need any more changes in my prescription, because I am almost at the point where they canít make my lenses any stronger." Miss Courtney replied.
"Are you ever afraid that you are going to go blind?" I asked.
"I probably was when I was your age and my glasses were, like yours are, the strongest ones of anyone in my school. But I asked my doctor, and he said that it wasnít likely that I would go blind unless I did something to bang my head and cause a retinal detachment. If I did that I could go blind, so I am very careful." Miss Courtney replied.
I told my mom that I thought I needed new glasses, so she made an appointment for me in early August so I would have my new glasses to wear back to school. This time when I had my exam I again did everything possible to get a much stronger prescription than I needed. I could tell when the man put the lenses that I required in the holders of the machine. So I told him that I couldnít see the line he wanted me to see yet, and he put in stronger lenses. I was able to bring my head back just a little from the machine, and I had memorized the line he wanted me to read, so since I could still read the line above I told him it was still blurry. He put in an even stronger lens, and this time I read the right line. Then he repeated the process with my left eye, with the same result.
"She needs a number 9 lens now?" Mom asked the doctor as she looked at the paper he had given her.
"That is correct. She has gone up considerably in this past year. It is possible that she has a condition we call progressive myopia, and her eyes will continue to get worse and worse until she is in her early to mid 20ís," the doctor replied.
"And there is no way her eyes will ever get better?" Mom asked.
"Not in my experience madam. All my shortsighted patients tend to become more and more shortsighted until at some point their eyeball stops growing longer," the doctor answered.
With this my mother appeared resigned to the fact that I had very bad eyesight, and we went to the Oculist to order my new glasses. Again I chose another gold frame, similar in appearance to the one I was already wearing, but with a slightly bigger lens size, because my face had grown a bit and my old glasses were a little too narrow for me now. My glasses were going to be ready for me about a week before school went back.
I didnít have any trouble getting used to my new lenses. Yes, they were again stronger than I really needed, and I could feel the over correction a lot at first, but within a couple of days my eyes had adapted, and I felt I could see everything very well. I loved my new lenses. They were completely flat on the front surface, and they were at least a quarter of an inch thick at the outer edge where the hinges were. And when I walked up to a mirror I could see that the edges of my face were sunken in a lot by the lenses.
My sister and my brother had teased me a lot for being so blind, but my mother admonished them and told them that I couldnít help having really bad eyes. Aunt Hester looked at my new glasses with surprise, and she asked me if she could try them on. I was happy when she told me that my eyes were now a lot worse than hers were. However, I could tell from the expression on her face that my mother wasnít thrilled to hear that.
When school went back I looked for Miss Courtney, and when I saw her I went up to her and announced that I had gotten new glasses.
"I can see that. And they look to be quite a lot stronger now." Miss Courtney said.
"They are a number 9 lens now." I proudly announced.
"Well, you still have a long way to go before you catch up with me. My lenses are number 19 now. I had to have a small increase this summer myself." Miss Courtney replied.
Now I knew how far I had to go if I wanted my lenses to look like Miss Courtneyís. I loved the appearance of her glasses. The fronts of her lenses were dished in a lot Ė almost as much as the back of mine were, and the reflections from the lenses were interesting. And her eyes looked so tiny and clear behind the thick pieces of glass. Also her face was drawn in at each side by the lenses so that when I looked at her as she walked down the hallway towards me there looked to be at least an inch of space at each side. Now I couldnít stop thinking and dreaming about her glasses. I had 3 more years to go before I would be in her class. Could I possibly have glasses as strong as hers were by then?
I didnít think it would be really possible, but I was determined to try. I increased my reading so that my nose was constantly buried in a book. I donít think I looked at anything further away than a few inches from my eyes for more than an hour a day for at least 6 months. I spent so much time indoors reading that when I did go outside the bright sunlight hurt my eyes, and I couldnít wait to get back inside. But other than noticing that my glasses were no longer too strong for me, I had not managed to feel the need for new glasses yet.
The following year, for my grade 5 year, I managed to get new glasses with number 11 lenses. I tried all my tricks, but the doctor managed to stop me from getting lenses that were a lot stronger than I really needed. I was just glad that I had managed to get him to give me more than number 10 lenses.
When I went into grade 6, I was able to get myself prescribed number 14 lenses. Now my lenses were dished in on the front surface, just like Miss Courtneyís were. I was very happy to be wearing these glasses for all of my school year. They had been quite a bit too strong when I got them, and it took me a lot longer to get accustomed to them than it had in previous years. I think it was because of the front curve being indented. It was a little hard to walk around at first, because these lenses gave me the feeling that I was in a tunnel. And if I swung my head back and forth, I could make myself very dizzy. Miss Courtney noticed my new glasses the first time I said hello to her in the hall.
"New glasses again I see Marsha. And they are biconcave lenses now, just like mine are. You are rapidly catching up to me. Fortunately I havenít had to get stronger lenses for a couple of years now, so I am hoping that my eyes have stopped getting worse." Miss Courtney said.
My grade 6 year was the year that 2 of my classmates also had to get glasses. Joyce and Edward were both shortsighted like me, but compared to me the lenses in their glasses were like clear windowpanes, and appeared to have very little strength. But Joyce had to get stronger glasses before the end of the school year, so there was hope for her yet.
I was very excited that summer. Now I was going into grade 7, and would be able to be with Miss Courtney for the entire year at school. I wanted stronger glasses to wear for grade 7, and I was sure I was going to be able to get them, because I had managed to get my eyes to a point where things were slightly blurry in the distance again.
"Well, we need to give Marsha another increase in her prescription Helen. She needs number 16 lenses now, and she is barely 14,"the doctor told my mom.
"How much worse can her eyes get Doctor?" Mom asked.
"Once she gets to a number 20 lens we will have done all we can do. There are stronger lenses available, but they come from Europe, and the cost is very high," the doctor replied.
"You mean they coat more than eighty dollars a pair?" Mom asked
"Probably 5 times that," the doctor replied.
"Her glasses are already very expensive Doctor. It is a good thing that her father commands such a good salary, or we might not be able to afford them." Mom replied.
I had not given the cost of my glasses much though before this, but I doubt that it would have made any difference. I was determined to wear glasses that were just as strong as Miss Courtney wore as soon as I possibly make my eyes bad enough to do so.
I had again managed to get lenses in my glasses that were stronger than I really needed. Now when I put my glasses on every morning, I could actually feel the weight of them on my nose. These glasses with the negative number 16 lenses were heavy, heavier than any of my other pairs. But I loved to wear them, so the extra weight didnít matter. And, I could hardly wait for the first day of school, when I would finally be in Miss Courtneyís class.
That year when I walked into the classroom my teacherís name was listed as Mrs. Jackson. I was devastated, as I had been looking forward to being in Miss Courtneyís class. I took my usual seat at the front of the class, and had my nose buried in a book when the teacher entered. I looked up and my heart skipped a beat. Miss Courtney had obviously gotten married over the summer to a Mr. Jackson, and she stood there as beautiful as ever, wearing what appeared to be a new pair of even stronger glasses.
I spent as much of my time as possible with Mrs. Jackson. I often stayed after school to have her help me with my studies, although we often talked about our eyesight more than we talked about schoolwork. Mrs. Jackson had required another increase before school started, and now her prescription had reached the magic number 20 lens. We talked about how she could get stronger glasses from Europe if she needed them, and she was surprised that I already knew that they would cost over $400.00, a sum that was astronomical for a teacher who only earned about $2,500.00 for a year of teaching.
"But if I need them, then I suppose I will have no choice." Mrs. Jackson told me.
"I hope you donít ever have to get them then." I replied.
"Your eyesight is even worse than mine was when I was your age, so it is quite possible that you will need to get the very expensive lenses before your eyes stop getting worse." Mrs. Jackson said.
"Well, like you said, if I do need them I will have no choice other than to spend the money. It would be terrible not to be able to see." I answered.
Mrs. Jackson brought anything she had to read up fairly close to her face, although I brought things even closer. Again I made the decision to try to move my reading material a further distance in order to possibly slow down my myopic progression. But I didnít feel comfortable, and I didnít feel that I could see properly unless I was holding my material fairly close to my eyes I asked Mrs. Jackson about this one day, and she told me that she had the same problem. Unless she held everything at a fairly close distance the printing was too small for her to read properly.
During my grade 7 year I filled out considerable. My breasts grew to an almost unmanageable size, and I started to notice boys. Although, I was sure that no boy would ever look at me, because according to others I was disfigured by the thick strong glasses that I had to wear to see anything past the end of my nose. But, I had made my eyes this bad myself, and I wanted to wear these glasses so I didnít care. Mrs. Jackson told me that I was very beautiful, and had a lovely figure. Some day some man would see that I was extremely attractive, even with my glasses, and would ask me to marry him, just as her husband had done.
Aunt Hesterís house was about a mile and a half from our house, and I often walked over there to visit her, even when mom wasnít with me. One day when I was walking to Aunt Hesterís I saw Mrs. Jackson walking ahead of me, so I ran to catch up to her. She and her husband had a house that was about a half a mile further away than Aunt Hesterís, so Mrs. Jackson invited me to come to visit her. After that, on most weekends I would visit with Mrs. Jackson. I just adored her, and was so envious of the fact that her glasses were still stronger than mine were.
The following year, when I was about to go into grade 8 Mrs. Jackson convinced my mother to take me to a doctor who was specialist in eyes. This man was a real eye doctor, and he didnít just examine eyes in between fixing watches. Mrs. Jackson had been going to this doctor since she was a little girl. After a very thorough and long examination of my eyes, my eyes were pronounced healthy, but very shortsighted. I even needed another increase in my prescription, and I wasnít too unhappy about that. Now my glasses were to be -17.50 diopters for each eye. I now knew a new word. Apparently a number 17.5 lens was a minus seventeen point fifty diopter lens in technical terms. The -17.50 was based somehow on the focal length that my eye needed to correct my vision so I could see the 20/20 line.
During my grade 8 year Mrs. Jackson became pregnant. Her baby was due in early July, and she asked me if I would come and stay with her to help her with the baby for the first month. Mom told me I could, so for the summer before I went to high school, I lived with the Jacksonís. Mr. Jackson was a really handsome man, and I determined that if I ever was to get married I wanted to marry a man just like him. Mr. Jackson was also quite shortsighted, although he was not nearly as shortsighted as either his wife or I were. The lenses of his glasses were completely flat, so I knew from my experience that he must have had between -9D and -11D of myopia. I hoped that because they were both very shortsighted their children would be shortsighted also.
Their baby girl, who they named Violet, was a sweetheart. I would have loved to have been able to leave school and stay with Violet all day while Mrs. Jackson was at school, but mom wouldnít let me. However, all of Aunt Hesterís kids were in school, and her house was pretty close, so Aunt Hester agreed to look after Violet during the day. Some days she stayed with Violet at the Jacksonís, and other days Violet went over to stay at Aunt Hesterís house. The arrangement worked out quite well for everyone.
On the weekends I would spend a lot of time with the Jacksonís. By now I was calling them Calvin and Elaine, as they had both asked me to call them by their first name. I noticed one Saturday that Elaine seemed to be squinting as she attempted to see things, and I mentioned it to her, but she brushed me off. A couple of weeks later, I again noticed this, but I was afraid that Elaine might get upset if I said anything, so I mentioned it to Cal.
"I noticed that Elaine seems to have a hard time seeing things properly again Cal. Have you noticed it as well?" I asked.
"I have Marsha. I suggested that she should have her eyes checked again, and see if she needs stronger glasses. But she became very upset, and told me that we couldnít afford to get her the lenses she needs if her eyes have gotten any worse." Cal replied.
"Her prescription is now at the limit where she can no longer have her lenses made here. They have to be specially ordered from Europe, and they will take about 5 months to get. They are also terribly expensive. The doctor told my mom and me that if my eyes ever got that bad my glasses would cost around $400.00." I told Cal.
"That is extremely expensive. But I know Elaine needs new glasses. Her eyes got worse while she was pregnant with Violet, but every time I suggested that she should have another exam she refused, and told me that her vision would come back after the baby was born. It hasnít come back, and it actually seems to have gotten worse. If new glasses for her are going to cost $400.00, we will just have to find the money somewhere." Cal told her.
"I have saved a little over $100.00. You can have that Cal." I said.
"That is very kind for you to offer your own money Marsha. But first we must get Elaine to go for an eye exam, and then we can determine what has to be done about getting her new, stronger glasses." Cal replied.
Finally Elaine did go for another eye exam. Now her new prescription was going to have to be -21.50D. But since it was going to take about 5 months before Elaine had her new glasses the doctor decided he would prescribe her lenses that were -22.00D, and would hope that her eyes wouldnít get any worse than that before her glasses arrived. I did give Cal and Elaine the money I had saved, and with the money they had available were able to order Elaineís new glasses immediately.
The order for the new glasses had to be processed, and the type and shape of the frame she chose had to be noted and the order and the money had to be shipped to Europe. It usually took about a week for a letter to reach New York by train, and then a ship to the continent took anywhere from 3 weeks to a month. After the order arrived at one of the ports in France, or Holland, or Spain, then the order had to get to the only place in the world that specialized in making the very high prescription lenses that Elaine needed. We had no idea how long it would take them to make the lenses, but we were hoping that 5 months was a bit longer than it would actually take. It had taken about 4 months and I was with Elaine the afternoon that the postman brought the notice that her glasses were ready. Since it was still early in the afternoon we decided that we would put Violet in the buggy and go downtown to get them.
Elaineís new glasses looked fantastic. She had chosen, as we both usually did, another fine gold frame with a slightly oval lens shape. As the assistant placed the new glasses on Elaineís face I was able to get my first look at them. They looked fantastic. The lens was about ½" thick, and the front of the lens was completely flat. The area that contained the prescription was in a circle that was directly in front of Elaineís eyes, and appeared to be about ¾" in diameter. The young lady who was fitting the glasses told Elaine that these were the very first pair of myodiscs that she had ever seen, so we knew that this was what this type of lens was called. And these glasses were different from our other ones in another way. Elaine and I had both been used to having the nosepiece sit directly on our nose, and because of the extreme weight of our thick glass lenses the frames had left an almost permanent indentation across the top of our noses. But Elaineís new glasses had pads that sat on each side of her nose, and these pads could be adjusted to raise or lower the position of the glasses on her nose.
As we walked home, Elaine was looking around at everything. She was thrilled that the myopic blur that she had been experiencing over the last few months was finally gone. I loved her new glasses, and immediately started scheming as to how to get a pair of myodiscs for myself. But then I realized that I would have to make my eyes worse even faster than they would probably get naturally, so I decided that since I wasnít even 16, and Elaine was 27, it would be better if I allowed nature to take its course and allow my myopia to progress naturally.
During the summer, just before I went into tenth grade, Elaine and Cal had a visitor for a few weeks. Elaineís younger brother William came to visit her. Elaine had 2 younger brothers. Albert was 3 years younger then she was, and William was 7 years younger, making him only 5 years older than me. I was quite taken by William. He was also quite shortsighted, and since the lenses in his glasses were also biconcave I felt that his prescription was probably around -14D. We did swap glasses one day, and I confirmed that his glasses were much weaker than mine, although I could see to read wearing them. I was going to turn 16 after school went back, so it would have been scandalous for a 21 year old man to spend time alone with a 15 year old girl, but I could tell that Will was interested in me, and I knew I certainly was interested in him. There were very few people around who wore strong glasses, so I knew that I might not ever have another chance to find another one, and I was determined not to let Will slip from my grasp.
Elaine knew that I was very attracted to her brother, so she convinced him that he should move here to be closer to her, and his niece Violet. He had worked in a bank, and when I told my father that Elaineís brother was looking for a position, my dad suggested that Will should come to the bank and have a talk with him. As a result, Will was hired by my father to work at the bank. He rented a room in a rooming house, and he spent a lot of time at Elaine and Calís, as did I.
Soon I was 16, and grade 10 was well under way. Christmas came and went, then Easter, and soon it was going to be summer again. Will had spoken to my father and had asked him if he could call on me. Either my father liked Will, or he had realized that it wasnít going to be easy getting a daughter who wore such thick, strong glasses married off, as he allowed Will to spend time with me at our house. Of course we had to be chaperoned at all times, but Will and I didnít care.
The summer before I turned 18 Elaine had noticed me squinting, so she gave me her old -19D glasses to try. They were perfect for me, and although it meant that my eyes had again gotten worse I wasnít upset. Will didnít seem to care that my eyes were still changing, even when I told him that it might mean that we would have to spend almost $400.00 for a pair of glasses in the future.
Also, that summer Will purchased a home for us to live in after we were married. The house, formerly owned by a widow, was closer to Aunt Hesterís than my parentís house was, and that meant that it was within convenient walking distance to Elaine and Cal as well. Elaine and I spent a lot of time that summer fixing up the house. Violet was now 3, and Elaine and Cal had decided that they would attempt to have Elaine get pregnant so that she could have a second child the following summer.
"Are you not afraid that another pregnancy might make your eyesight worse?" I asked Elaine.
"I am a little worried about that, but I have discussed it with Cal, and if that happens we will just have to spend the money on another pair of stronger glasses." Elaine replied.
I had decided that I wasnít going to go on with my schooling once I had obtained my high school diploma. And, after I had turned 18, my parents allowed Will and me to announce our engagement. We were going to be married as soon as school was dismissed, and I spent far more time planning the wedding than I spent on my schoolwork. But, my grades had always been very good, so I did manage to keep them up. Also, Elaine had gotten pregnant, and that created a small hitch. The baby was due around the same time as the wedding, and Elaine was to be my maid of honor. So, we had to have a backup plan. My sister Ruth, whom I had asked to be a bridesmaid, kindly agreed to stand in for Elaine if need be. And, Aunt Hester agreed to stand in for Ruth if she had to. So, with the help of a couple of other school friends, my wedding was set to go.
But, the baby held off until a week after the wedding, and Will and I had returned from our honeymoon. We had taken a train to a resort in the Wisconsin Dells, and had spent a few days there enjoying ourselves. We returned just in time for Will and I to have a nephew in our lives, as Elaine produced a healthy 9 lb baby boy. Mathew was a beautiful bouncing baby.
My father had hoped that my brother John would follow him into the world of banking, but John wanted to be an engineer, so dad turned to Will, and asked Will if he would be interested in becoming a partner in the bank. Of course Will agreed, and he became half owner, using what would likely be my inheritance to swing the deal. But I didnít mind, because Will and I got along very well. I even went to work at the bank myself, but the long hours of bookkeeping didnít do my already weak eyesight any good, and soon Elaine had to give me her old pair of -20D glasses to wear. As well, Elaine again needed new; stronger lenses after the birth of Mathew, so the process of getting her new glasses was started. Since Elaine had given me my last 2 pairs of glasses for free, Will and I decided that we would pay for at least half the cost of Elaineís new pair, and against the protestations of Cal and Elaine we did so.
Elaine had not needed much over a -1D increase this time, so her doctor ordered her new glasses with lenses of -23.50D. Cal and Elaine had decided to have no further children, so we hoped that this would be the end of her myopic progression.
Will and I did not want to wait to have our children, and soon I was pregnant. About a month before the baby was due I could no longer stand the blur, so I asked Elaine if I could try her old -22D myodiscs. Of course she gave them to me, and I loved them, not just for the fact that I was now one of the very few wearersí of myodiscs in the world, but also because I could see everything so clearly again. Fortunately my eyes didnít get any worse after the birth of our daughter Alice, so I felt that I would be able to wear these myodiscs until we had our second child. And, maybe if I was able to convince Will, we would be able to have a third child, but Will was terribly worried about the fact that my eyesight would probably deteriorate even further with the birth of each child.
By the time Violet was 5, and starting school, Elaine had her eyes examined. Violet was shortsighted, and needed glasses with a prescription of -3.50D. She looked darling in her new glasses. Like I had been, she was the only child in her class who wore glasses. I really didnít have too much time to think about the fact that myopia had been passed on to another generation. I was being run off my feet, what with Evelyn being only 19 months old, and with another baby due shortly.
Cal and Elaine had used Mathew for the name of their son. Will and I both liked that name, but we decided our boy was going to be named Mark, a name we also both liked because of the biblical influence. I had been raised a good Christian, and so had Will, and we accompanied my parents to church most Sundays. I was very happy that Mark was a healthy baby, but I knew I was going to have to get stronger glasses for myself shortly. I was having a lot of trouble seeing again.
I had been wearing Elaineís old -22.00D myodiscs since before Evelyn was born. Now when I went back for my eye exam I was told that my new glasses should be -25.00D. Again the doctor had increased the prescription slightly because of the length of time that it was going to take to get them, but even if he had added -0.50 that meant that the birth of Mark had cost me about -2.50D naturally. I worried about this a little, but once my new glasses arrived and I could see well again I decided that I did still want another child, even if it meant another serious increase in my prescription.
I knew that Evie was very shortsighted before she was 3 years old. She had all the classic signs of a high myope. She brought everything up close to her eyes, and didnít seem to be able to differentiate between myself and Will until we either spoke to her, or came up very close to her. She couldnít walk around a room without tripping over everything, and I knew that it was likely because she couldnít see things that were on the floor in her path. So, I took Evie to see the doctor. I was a bit surprised, because her first prescription was stronger than her dads. Evie needed a prescription of -15.00D. If she went through the usual myopic progression that most people who were shortsighted went through in their teen years we would be ordering her glasses from Europe before she was 15.
I had planned to have no more than 3 years difference in ages between Evie and our third child. But I had a hard time convincing Will that I didnít care if my eyes got worse with the birth of another child or not. I had to almost fight with Will to get him to have sex with me. Finally Will realized that I could not be swayed from my intentions, so again I was pregnant. But now there was going to be almost 4 years between Evie and the baby.
This time my vision began to deteriorate within the first 3 months of pregnancy. I was having so much trouble that finally Will demanded that I have my eyes examined and should get new glasses now. I didnít want to spend the money, but Will was right. I couldnít see much further than the pages of a book with the extremely strong glasses I already wore. The doctor was worried about the extent of the deterioration of my eyesight. I had already gained another -4.00D in my prescription. I convinced the doctor to order me a new pair of glasses with a prescription that was -1.00D stronger than he tested me at. I told him that since my eyes were likely going to change even further before the baby was born, there was no reason to not do this. Finally he agreed to order me glasses with a -30D prescription in each eye.
I walked around in a serious myopic blur for the next 4 months. Even knowing that I had caused the extreme deterioration in my vision because of my desires to wear strong glasses didnít help me much. All I wanted was to have my new glasses. Finally they were ready. I couldnít wait to put them on. The instant I did I realized that the prescription was perfect for my eyes. But I was again getting the tunnel vision I thought I had gotten rid of once I got myodiscs, as all of my previous myodiscs had flat fronts for the lenses. Once I got home I took off my new glasses, put on my old ones and examined the new glasses. They were myodiscs still, but these glasses had the dished in front of a biconcave lens again. Since I had gotten used to this tunnel effect once in my life, I felt that I would easily adapt to it again.
Elaine was a little shocked when she saw my new glasses. She tried them on, and found that they were so much stronger than hers that she couldnít make her eyes see through them at all. But when I let her try my old glasses, the ones with the -25.00D lenses she found she could see very well with them so I let her have them to wear.
Another girl graced our family. Emily was the name that Will and I chose, and she was a lovely baby. I couldnít help but wonder if she would be as shortsighted as her older sister. One part of me wanted my children to all be shortsighted, but I knew from experience that being severely shortsighted could lead to more than a few problems.
As I had suspected, and hoped, Emily was as shortsighted as her older sister. She also was wearing a prescription of -15.00D by the time she was 3 years old. Evie, who was now 7 and going into grade 3 had not yet required any increase in her prescription, so both girls were wearing almost identical -15.00D glasses with biconcave lenses. Elaine and Calís daughter, my niece Violet was now 13, and had filled out nicely into a very pretty young lady. Her starting prescription of -3.50D had gone up considerably and by now Violet was wearing a prescription of -11.00D for her glasses. And Mathew and Mark were also now wearing glasses, with prescriptions of -7.50D and -5.00D respectively.
I still loved to put my glasses on every morning and look through the lenses to watch the blur slowly change into crystal clarity. Whenever I did this I was sexually aroused, and on most Sunday mornings, when Will was allowed to sleep in, we would spend a pleasant few hours making love, wearing our glasses of course.
It was easier now for Elaine and me to get new glasses when we wanted them. Our eyes had quit changing once the kids were born, and now we were able to wait the three or four months that it took to get our new glasses. Occasionally our conversation would turn to our eyesight, and we sometimes wondered if there might ever be enough severely shortsighted people in the United States to make it possible for a company to make a profit making the strong myodiscs lenses that Elaine and I required. We thought maybe it might take a hundred years for this to happen, so both Evie and Emily were soon going to have to have their glasses shipped from Europe, and would probably have to live with this for the rest of their lives. But, if our grandchildren had the same severe myopia that we had, it was possible that they would not have to wait 3 or 4 months for ships to carry our glasses across the ocean. We always ended up deciding that it was a lot better to wait for the proper glasses to be sent to us than it would have been if we could not have gotten the glasses of the strength that we needed. Our doctor has talked with us about one young lady that was a patient of his who could not afford the expenses of the European glasses, and she was forced to struggle daily with glasses that were too weak to suit her present needs. We had talked about helping her out, but we not yet convinced that we should give away our old glasses until we saw what Evie and Emily required for their prescriptions in a few years before we donated them to someone else. But we were going to meet her in a few days, and we felt that if she seemed like a responsible person we would help her out as long as we could have the return of the glasses if my daughters needed them.