Determined to take her place in a world which she will never see, Miss Peggy Painton of 512 Third Avenue, blind sophomore at Russell Sage College, today gave a reporter for The Record Newspapers a glimpse of the enthusiasm, optimism and dauntless courage with which she is pursuing her college career, preparatory to becoming a teacher.
Miss Painton consented to an interview only after she had stressed the fact that she did not seek publicity for herself, but rather encouragement for other sightless persons.
That she might bring to others the knowledge and mental light which she herself is gleaning tediously through her fingertips, Miss Painton swept aside the doubts of her family and entered Russell Sage two years ago to prepare to teach.
With no trace of the self sympathy that so often accompanies physical affliction, the Troy girl entered completely into activities at the college including gymnastics. She is taking the regular physical education program, including corrective work and swimming, and in her own words is “getting an awful lot out of it.” She was one of ten students chosen to give a physical education demonstration at Emma Willard School recently. She is a pianist and on several occasions has addressed organizations on the education of the blind.
“I enjoy my work,” Miss Painton said. “The college has taken an immense interest in me and I have gained a lot from it. In fact, I’m afraid I’ve gained more from the college than I have contributed.”
Asked if she had taken the courage and perseverance of Helen Keller as a model, Miss Painton answered:
“No, my desire for an education was entirely my own and although I once heard Miss Keller speak, she was not my inspiration.”
Continuing in her clear-spoken, straightforward manner, she said:
“You see, what I am doing is not unusual, except here at Russell Sage where no other blind student has ever studied. But I want sufficient training to teach in any school, not only in schools for the blind.”
Nor is Miss Painton satisfied to think that her formal education will end at graduation from Sage, for her ambition is to continue her study of modern foreign languages in university graduate work.
Only three of her text books are in Braille, Miss Painton explained. They are books that Miss Keller used at Radcliffe. She takes notes in class by means of the Braille system and her outside reading is done by means of three assistants who read assignments to her. Home work and tests, Miss Painton does by means of ordinary typewriter.
“Some-one once made a mistake in reporting that I used a typewriter with Braille letters,” she stated, “that is not true; it is an ordinary typewriter and I’ll admit my touch system isn’t always so good.”
Asked if she had a conception of colors, Miss Painton hesitated, then smiled as one reluctant to reveal the creatures of her imagination.
“Yes,” she said, “I think I have. I think of days and the names and musical notes in terms of colors.”
At the close of the interview, Miss Painton left the room and ran upstairs, as sure in her movements as she is in her mental strides toward the high goal she has set for herself and pursues so tirelessly.
Times Record. April 23, 1936: 15 cols 3-4.