NOVEMBER 1, 1958
HYDE PARK—In Toronto, Canada, where I was the past Monday evening, there still is talk of a recession and unemployment, and plans are being made to reduce it, particularly if it should continue into the winter.
On Tuesday night I was at the State Teachers College in Fredonia, N. Y., and on this lecture trip I again was impressed by the interest of people in the Soviet Union, for there as well as in Toronto I was asked to speak on Russia.
The area around Fredonia is grape-growing country, and some of our best American wine is made there. Because of Lake Ontario, I suppose, the climate is a little milder than in other areas of upstate New York, and they had not had a hard frost yet. Many trees were ablaze with color, and as the rain had started to bring the leaves to the ground, you could hear the lovely rustling of dead leaves as people walked through the village streets.
I have just received a letter from a woman bringing to my attention a situation in the insurance field which I am going to quote just as she tells about it. This woman had polio when 10 months old, leaving her legs paralyzed. But she had controls put on a car that enabled her to drive. She says:
"I have been driving ever since with no accidents and I have never received a traffic ticket. I have driven thousands and thousands of miles in many states.
"I am interested in the Indoor Sports Club, Inc., which is an international club for the physically disabled, and upon returning from our convention, which was held in Minneapolis, our insurance agent telephoned me and said that the company in which we were insured was going to cancel the policy....Would you help us in our attempt to bring this discriminatory action against the handicapped driver to the attention of the public?
"My agent has obtained other insurance for me because I have established a good record in the almost 10 years I have been driving. But what of the other handicapped drivers who have just learned to drive or have yet to learn to drive?...
"We, the handicapped, value the wonderful privilege of being able to drive our cars. We need our cars for going to and from business, schools, pleasure, shopping, doctors, dentists, etc. We want to be useful independent citizens."
I know there are many instances when companies do insure handicapped drivers, but in case there are areas where any companies are tempted not to do so, I want to bring this woman's letter to their attention.
A handicapped person is often a better risk than an unimpaired driver who may feel so sure of his own ability that he is willing to take risks and drive either too fast or too carelessly.