The Corner

The Way We’ve Talked

Today and tomorrow, I’m writing about an unusual and wonderful ranch in Texas: Down Home Ranch, founded by Jerry and Judy Horton. It is a ranch for disabled adults. For today’s installment, go here.

On the Corner, I’d like to make a language note. Jerry grew up in San Jose and, when a child, had polio. (I discuss this in today’s installment.) Fortunately, his dad knew someone in the Shriners, and, thanks to this contact, Jerry was admitted to the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, up the road in San Francisco.

A few years ago, I wrote an essay called “Adventures in Lexical Fashion.” You will find it in my new collection, Digging In. (Plugola!) Let me excerpt a paragraph:

“Retarded” was once a progressive word — a wonderfully progressive word. It implied that the afflicted person was merely delayed. Long before that, there were “homes for idiots.” The people who founded, ran, and staffed them were not hateful. On the contrary, they were among the most loving and humane people on earth — probably more loving and humane than you and I are. Eventually, “retarded” people became “developmentally disabled,” “physically challenged,” “differently able,” “handicapable” … “Special” is a perennial — as in “Special Olympics,” and “special needs.”

How about the people who staffed the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children? I imagine they were pretty loving and humane, too.

Anyway, forget language: Meet the Hortons and their daughter and Down Home Ranch. You won’t be sorry.

P.S. I will sneak in something musical. If a piano recital is your bag, try a post of mine at The New Criterion on Igor Levit, here. Levit is a hot item, and understandably.


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