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  • I am color blind. Not the most extreme which is black and white – I am red/green color blind [protanopia/deuteranopia]. It did not get spotted until I was in third grade. Yeh, I had trouble with crayons and learned to read really early because it was the only way that I could determine the color of the crayon. I thought that everyone needed to do this but was a bit mystified with those who could dip into the crayon box and find the desired color when the wrapper was missing. Some of my creations in kindergarten and, first and second grades, were a bit weird. Of course my mother always loved them and they were duly taped to the fridge. I also developed somewhat of a reputation for asking too many questions and being a pest in class. My downfall came in third grade. In my hometown the teachers in the school had been around forever and some had even had my brother and sister [11 -14 years difference]. Mrs. Hoydt was one of those teachers. I guess that my reputation preceded me because I spent an increasing amount of time cleaning erasers in the school basement as punishment for some offence. One fine fall day she asked the class to get out crayons and create a picture of what we had done during the summer [sound familiar?]. None of the crayons had paper labels that identified their color!!! I did my best and, as she wandered the classroom she began to examine the creations in progress. When she got to me I received the feared Hoydt stare. “What are you doing?” she demanded. I thought it was obvious and told her that I had spent part of the summer at camp and that my masterpiece was showing the large green lawn around which the cabins were arranged. She said “That is not green, it is red!” I disagreed and insisted that it was the color green. By this time many of the other students were snickering and awaiting the wrath of Hoydt. She got a ruler, told me to hold out my hand with a clenched fist and she struck. She asked me what color I had used for grass and I insisted that it was green. I got whacked. More whacks resulted until my knuckles were bleeding.

    Suddenly, a look of intense concern overcame her and she marched me to the school nurse. I was given what I ultimately found out was the Ishihara Test. I identified the number embedded in the first color plate and failed the rest. The nurse said that I was color blind and wrote a note to my mother to have an eye doctor validate her conclusion. Mrs. Hoydt seemed mortified by the experience. She brought me back to class and made me stand up in front of the other students. Then she apologized to me in front of them and that night, she came to our house to apologize to my parents. When I got back to school the next day there was a brand new box of, as I remember 48, Crayola Crayons labeled with my name. I even survived the year and went on to the next grade with a positive recommendation. Later on, when I was a paperboy and Mrs. Hoydt was retired, I always seemed to get the best tips from her. I wonder why.

    Being color blind has proved to be both a burden and a joy. I had to cheat to get my driver’s license, and routinely went through a traffic signal in a neighboring town that had green on the top. My favorite VW color was green and the family did not have the heart to tell me it was grey. When my kids were growing up they took endless pleasure in torturing me. When my wife was away my teenage daughter was asked to help me match shirt, tie, pants, jacket, socks and shoes so that I would arrive at work properly attired. The office staff could not wait to see if my daughter was mad at me for some reason. It was a daily mystery to solve. Would I arrive with two different color shoes or socks? Would my tie clash horribly with my other clothes etc? To say the least it made me very popular around the office.

    These days, when people find out that I am color blind a parlor game of “name the color” usually ensues.

    Ha, you should see me working with Photoshop!
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