One Warm Day

50% of all deaf women are reported to be sexually assaulted as children…

There is no sticking date for this day, I was four, a baby brother brother recently born, the sun was in the afternoon mode in the west. My vocabulary was delayed by being deaf and taught speech only, but not “discovered” as no one in authority wanted to label me as such, yet. (not for another two and half years would this happened). The days were getting longer already, but as an observant child, I already knew it was past noon time. I stayed near the screen of the door so Mama could see me. She get so mad when I went off chasing butterflies or what ever caught my attention in those days. What happened next comes jumbled and traumatic and hard to piece together.

This is what my Parents remember. I was gone. I was right there in my muddied dress, playing happy with my mud pies in my “kitchen” my made for me from wooden milk crates. Satisfied I was put for the moment, she looked down at her slippery infant son in his bath and then looked backed up. Her heart stopped, I was gone. She screamed my name, wrapped her baby suds and all and dashed out the front door. She looked all over the yards front and back of that half acre we had. She finally called my Dad at the State Park Museum and frantically said I gone missing again. Dad came home and he also looked all over the house (all 1000 square feet of it), under the house in the crawlies, down by the river the garage and every other place they could possibly think of. Nothing. Time to call in the troops. This time the State Park closed the museum and radio out to the Park Rangers all over Coloma, missing McCormick child and gave the address. Every spot on the half acer and beyond was checked including the hwy I liked to walked on sometimes. After several hours, they decided they have to dredge the river. Just as they were about to do that however, I suddenly show up on the front porch where I had gone missing from several hours ago. My Mother was convinced I was taken for one main reason. I was perfectly clean and smelled of laundry and bath soap. The last time she saw me I was splashed in mud and she had thought how she would have a second child to bathe that night.

My own memories are more jumbled. In part because they are mixed in with memories of things that happened to me before we moved “across the river” as the saying was when one moved from one side of the American River to the other. My overwhelming memory is one of terror, loud sounds like gun shots, and scrambling to get under the bed or any tiny space to get away from the men, and failing. Of screaming till my throat hurt and being slapped for it. I learn quickly to be quiet, because no one came when I screamed anyway. My vagina would hurt afterwards and I would always be so tired. Also, I hated sleeping at night, day time was OK, no one could sneak up on me in the day, because I could see their shadows. I always slept with my back to the wall if I could help it. If I wanted to change sides, instead of turning over, I flip from one end of the bed to the other. Something that drove my parents nuts as they could not see why I kept changing the head of the bed. I told them, “its headaches, the bed crooked”. As it turned out the bed was off a bit… I was not raped repeatedly so much, but when I was, it was very traumatic and 50 years later, small events can bring it all up again. A drunk man on the streets recently, I did not have my alert dog with me that day as I had a lot to do and I was concern he would be too stressed out. So I was not alerted when a drunk man came up behind me, and got really close. Started talking and all my protected actions failed. Come at me from the front and the side and I am ready for you. But I was at my car and he came to my back side. I froze. My body and my voice. I have never been able to trust my voice will bring help and I have a LOUD voice. He kept talking I kept signing and finally he gave me a kiss on the cheek. What really froze me was he reeked of old and current alcohol. Just like the men who used to have me. All he did was kiss me on the cheek, but for weeks after I would be in tears, shakes and want to vomit every time I had to go by that spot where I had business to attend to. He was finally taken in by Police and Medical Attendants for a completely different reason, but a milestone around my soul was cut off that day. At least ONE guy was caught. The men who did what they did to me 50 years ago, I can find no record of them ever being caught or where they are located now. I am looking though, when I do find where they are, I will make my report. Why? Because I heard that one of them is still playing “Grandpa”. It is too late for me, but not too late for other little ones.

Nancy Louise