The Boy with a Hearing Heart: 1904

Adele Beaucicot, guest writer

The cheers and screams of the people in the room bring silence to my ears as I watch dad open the sealed envelope, determining whether or not he will qualify for the Games of the lll Olympiad. As Dad reads the letter, a radiant smile starts to form from ear to ear and his eyes glisten with tears.

“What does it say?” I sign to him.

“I’m going to participate in the Olympic Games this year, William!”  he signs back.

            I look at him with disbelief and pinch myself a couple of times. That night I lay in my bed awake, adrenaline running through my veins. I kept replaying the scene of my father opening the letter, and many questions flood my mind. Did that really just happen? Is he actually participating in the Olympics? Is he planning on taking me with him?


“Pack your bags son, we’re going to St. Louis, Missouri; By the way, you can invite Henry if you like.” 

            I thank my father and sprint out the door so fast that I felt like an olympic athlete. I could not wait to tell my best friend Henry Martin the good news. I ran a couple of blocks and made it to his house, where I found him outside. I am so out of breath that I have to pause in order to speak.

“Henry, you are invited to come with me and my father to St. Louis, Missouri!”

“Really? Your dad said I could come?”

“ Of course, he did!”

“ I guess, I better start packing!”, said Henry with a smile on his face.

My father walks towards the Martin’s house and causally strikes up a conversation with Henry.

“Well hello there, Henry.”

“Hello, Mr. Bailey, how are you?”

“ I’m doing mighty fine, and you?”, says Mr. Bailey

“I am doing well, Sir.”, replied Henry

 Clink, clink, clink. The door opens.

“Well, if it isn’t my good friend Richard Bailey.”

“ And mine, Edward Martin”

“ Please, do come in”

“ I have good news to tell you!”

“ Is that so?”

“I am competing in the Summer Olympics, and I would love if Henry could come with us when I go to compete.”

“ Yes, you may take him with you, but just letting you know he has not been feeling too well.”

“ Have you taken him to the doctor? What do they say he has?”

“ Just a slight cold”

“ He will be ok to go with us, then.”

“Yes, he will.”


“Good day, Richard.”  As Edward tipped his hat towards Richard.

 “Good day, Edward. William— Mr. Martin says that Henry can come with us.”


            It is nine in the morning and we are packing our bags in to the car. We stop by Henry’s house and it is not too long till we are on our way. It is a long drive from Chicago to St. Louis, so we have to find ways to entertain ourselves. We read books, play card games, and count cows throughout the monotonous car ride. Finally, after being in the car for hours, we arrive in St. Louis, Missouri. People bustle about the pristine streets. The city takes my breath away.

            Today is July first and the Sumer Olympics have officially started. We get there early, so that we can find a good seat. I look around and see many athletes; they’re holding flags that represent their countries. I see a flag with black, white and red stripes. So many events go on that day, like boxing, swimming, and freestyle wrestling. It is so amazing to watch these athletes and the skills they have. The event I am truly looking forward to is the Olympic marathon, because my father, Richard Bailey, is participating in this one.


As soon as the gun goes off, the runners are out of sight. I stand on the bleachers to see the pack of runners and I get a glimpse of my father running in the middle of it at a steady pace. Henry and  I both know that the runners of the marathon would not be back for a while, so he offers to get us some food.

“Do you want me to get anything?” , he signs to me

“Just a hotdog and a pop, please,” I signed back.

A few moments later, I feel a delicate pressure touch my shoulder. I look up to find a cheery, pretty girl. Her brown hair and green eyes sparkle in the sunlight, and she is wearing a plum— colored dress with a matching bonnet that makes her eyes shine. She is speaking to me but I can not hear one word she says. I try to explain to her that I am deaf, but she keeps on talking.

“ May I seat next to you?” she says.

“ I can not hear what you are saying, because I am deaf,” I sign

“ I beg your pardon?”

I am so happy to see that Henry has come back with our food. I know he can help me with this situation.

“ Can you tell her that I am deaf, please?”

“ Um. . . Miss my friend here is deaf.”, Henry says to her.

 She smiles sympathetically after Henry talks to her.

“Oh, I thought he was ignoring me.”

            She introduces herself to both of us. Her name is Hazel Grace Fisher, and her father is also participating in the marathon.

“Do you want to walk around with me, since the runners will not be back for a while?”


“Hey, guys, I’m going to watch another event, so I’ll meet up with you later.” Signs Henry


“Tell me a little bit about yourself, William,” she said with curiosity in her voice.

“I am seventeen years old and like to watch silent movie and read. I also love to run and hope to participate in the Olympics some day. Now, tell me about yourself?”

“I am also seventeen and like to sew and paint. I hope to be a seamstress and have my clothing featured in a fashion show.”

“Wow, that’s amazing!”

“If you do not mind me asking, how did you become deaf?”

“ No, I don’t mind. Right after I was born, I became sick which lead me to becoming deaf.”

“We should hang out sometime.”

“That would be nice.”

A few hours later we see the first runner coming towards the finish line. The crowd roars and begins chanting, “An American won!” (Abbott).


“It’s Fredrick Lorz”

“How can this be?”

“This is impossible”

“Wooo. . . Finish strong!”

“He has finished in record time.”

“I want his autograph.”

Two more runners come through before I see my father sprint with all his might across the finish line. He looks like he might collapse, but he keeps on moving.

            It is time for the award ceremony for the marathon, and they call up Fredrick Lorz onto the podium.

“I can not believe he has done this”

“He is a disgrace”

“ He cheated”

“ That is so unfair”


“ Booo. . . Booo.”

            Hazel Grace laughs as Henry signs to me that Fredrick Lorz got disqualified because he rode in a car for after running for only nine miles, and got dropped back off a mile nineteen and finishes the race. This for sure will make head lines in the newspaper. The ceremony goes on and my father ends up with a bronze medal.


            For the weekend, my father, Henry, and I head to Louisiana for the Louisiana Purchase World’s Fair. Henry and I rush to the sports exhibits where people compete in “primitive” sports such as, pole climbing, tug-of-war, and mud wrestling. They also competed in modern sports, in contests designed to show their inferiority (Riess 677). We see an ice cream cone which is a new invention someone made. We also get to see the first successful field tractor and how it works. The worlds fair can only be described as fascinating.

            That Sunday we went to church as we usually did back home. The pastor was talking about how we should help others like Jesus did. This reminded me of how my father loves to help and give back to others. From this day on, I decide I would donate to a foundation that would help deaf children just like me. After the service, we head back St. Louis, Missouri.


I look over to my left as we sit on the bleachers and see Henry turn a crimson red. He is coughing violently, and it looks like he is struggling to breathe. I tap my father and point to Henry. 

“We need to take Henry to the hospital!”, my father frantically signs

            As we walk to the car, Henry grips my arm so tight that his hands leave marks on them. The nurse takes him into a room and does tests on him. After hours of waiting, we are able to see him again. The doctor says pneumonia, covers the majority of his lung. He tells my father that he will recover, but that he could have died. I guess the doctors back home were wrong about him having a slight cold. I pray and thank God that Henry is okay. My father looks at me with worry in his eyes.

“We should go visit Hazel Grace. Her father just told me she has influenza .”, my father signs


“Is she ok, will she make it”, I sign to Mr. Fisher

“I am afraid not William.”

“Can I go in and see her, Sir?”

“ Yes, you may.”

            I enter that room where she lays fragile and pale. I talk to her in sign language and she signs back to for a while. All she requests is that I stay beside her bed and hold her hand, and I do. Slowly her grip starts to loosen and her eyes start to close. As I watch her take her final breathe, I cannot stop my tears from streaming down my cheeks.

Works Cited

Abbott, Karen. “The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been the Strangest Ever.”                        , Web. 8 Feb. 2017.


Riess, Steven A. Sports in America from colonial times to the twenty-First century: an                                 encyclopedia. Vol. 2, M.E. Sharpe, 2011. Print.



Andrews, Evans. “8 Unusual Facts About the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.” History Stories, 29 Aug.  2014, Web. 27 Jan. 2018.


“ST. LOUIS, U.S.A. 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.” St. Louis World’s Fair 1904,                              Louisiana Purchase Exposition, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2018.


“1904 Summer Olympics.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, n.d.Web. 27 Jan. 2018.