There were several girls my age who resided in our neighborhood. The difference between us was our marital status. I was single, the girls in the neighborhood were married; they were Navy wives.
Navy housing in Millington was like a group of small tri-plexes or four-plexes. In a nearby four-plex was a girl who was actually slightly younger than I. Her name was Janie, and she formed a friendship with my Mother.
Janie had a young son who was about a year and a half years old. The babies name was Stevie. Stevie was a darling little boy with blond curly hair and blue eyes.
When she was quite young Janie had found herself pregnant and unwed. The babies father left and didn't want to have anything to do with Janie and Stevie. While she was pregnant, Janie met a young sailor who offered to marry her and raise Stevie. Janie jumped at the opportunity of having a father for her baby.
Even in 1960, unwed mothers were thought of as tramps and were outcasts of society. Janie had been rescued from that prospect by marrying Ed, the sailor. The problem was, Ed treated Janie like his personal slave. He demanded Janie wait on him every day when he came home from work. He didn't allow Janie to have a car, or any independence. He did allow Janie to come over to our house and visit with my Mother, probably thinking she might learn some housekeeping skills from my Mother. Janie wasn't even allowed to go grocery shopping on her own. Ed would take Janie to the commissary and give her money and she was expected to buy groceries. I think her budget was about $15.00 per week. One time I was with Janie when she went grocery shopping. She went slightly over her allowance and walked out to the car to get some more money from Ed. Ed refused to give her additional money and told her to put some items back on the shelf.
Little Stevie was ignored by Ed. He treated the baby like he didn't exist. Janie made up for any attention Stevie missed by doting on him. She would bring Stevie over to our house and he would play with my younger brother, William.
My Mother noticed something strange about Stevie, and one day Mom told me she thought Stevie was deaf and she was going to find out. Janie had gone shopping with her husband and my Mother was watching Stevie. Stevie was playing on a blanket on the floor. My Mother called to Stevie. He didn't respond. My Mother then made some other noises behind Stevie. He still didn't respond. Finally, my Mother took a phone book and dropped it right in back of Stevie. Stevie didn't react. My Mother turned to me and told me: "I knew he couldn't hear. He's deaf".
Janie was very upset when my Mother told her about Stevie. She went home and told Ed, but Ed convinced her my Mother was wrong. Denial thrived and Stevie wasn't officially diagnosed for several more years.