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Lost In A Desert World

Creator: Roland Johnson (author)
Date: 1994
Source: Available at selected libraries

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The first trip I went on at London, the People First International Conference, it was a very interesting. Oh, I enjoyed London! I never been to London.


This long ride. . .I'm axed Mark, "We're still on this plane -- how far is it?" 'Cause I usual in bed at this time and I'm still travelling.


And I said, "Mark, when this plane going to touch down?" My eyes was dozing off; I sleeped a little bit on the plane til Mark says, "We're here."


And it touched down at round 'bout quarter to eight, eight fifteen of their time; three o'clock in the morning our time.


And I seen this daybreak.


Anyway, after we got in to London, we had to get our luggage and then we had to stop and get some pounds, their money, because I had travelling checks. And it was kind of hard for me to 'dentify what money from American money. I axed Mark, "What does that mean?" He 'splained it to me. It was kind of hard to 'dentify what is pounds, because I had no schooling about different countries. Well, anyway, when we got into the. . .it wasn't an apartment; it was like a dorms.


They invited me to come to learn more about our side. The next day they had their national meeting. And I got to stand up in front of all the people with disable. And I got up there and said that, "Now listen -- you have to get together. If you want to form a international conference, we have to get it together. This is no Joking matter. We have to concentrate on things that we have to do." That starred 'em up, everybody. I don't know how, don't ax me how I did it, but I did it. Yep.


It was very interesting to see how they accent talk: they talk different than I talk. And it was very powerful things that they said. We talked about how to get a self-advocacy organization started. It was a very powerful thing.


And then we took a tour. Me and Mark went on a bus and Bill Worrell. We went to visit Buckingham Palace and we went to see the Changing of the Guards and we ate in the park for lunch and we had a good time there. Bill Worrell had his self-advocacy group there from Canada -- People First; it was a bunch of us.


It was a week; it went on for a whole week. We talked about some serious things up there. And it was very, very hard to imagine how that would work. Very hard to test that.


At Hershey Mark was saying, "You come down the hall. I has a surprise for you."


"A surprise? What kind of surprise? I don't like surprises." And he told me to put the key in the door.


I opened the door and here's this big living room and with a big bed and the bathroom and the TV in the living room. It looked like for a big shot. I was shocked. I'm only one person. It was for a person that is a big shot, that had a lot of children; or three people could sleep in there.


And I was just, "Me? No, you must be kidding." And he said, "Don't take this to your head."


There's a lot of people take things too serious to their head. But I don't take things seriously to my head.


It was very nice.


I think that was my end of my presidency. That's why they did that.




That's why they gave me that room. It was nothing put past me. I think that that's why that happened. Somebody set that up. Nobody told me. Everybody kept quiet.


It was a very, very good thing to do. It was very, very nice being in a suite at Hershey.


I had to say to myself, "Well, it's time to give other people a chance to be president. Because I can't be president all the time. . ."Giving them the chance to turn the gavel over to somebody else.


It kind of felt hurt inside, but it helped in the long run to give somebody else a chance.


It was very hard to give it up, very very hard to just say, "Well, I had it; I had enough of it" and give somebody else a chance in my shoes.


The board voted on whom will gonna be the next president. Debbie Robinson -- she'll do the job in my place.


It's true I felt pushed out. It's kind of hard to put that together. I have no easy answers.


Debbie took the pattern and she followed the pattern: she was president, as I was president, in the Philadelphia chapter. She followed my lead. She picked up whatever I taught her. She learned what all from me.


And I got voted to a 'xectuive to the Board -- making decisions for the Board.


And then I was elected back to president of Philadelphia.


They axed me to go to Pine Hill at that time to start a chapter in Pine Hill. -A small privately operated institution for people with multiple disabilities, developmental and physical -- K.W.- Bob Walsh -an advisor with Speaking For Ourselves -- K.W.- invited me to come out there.


I went out there and took a look at Pine Hill, and I told Bob that he could not start a chapter in an institution. I better not hear him starting a chapter in an institution.


I talked to them about coming to the chapters, instead of having a chapter in Pine Hill. I told 'em that would not be right to start a chapter in Pine Hill because that if you start one, the staff would run it; the members wouldn't run it; it would be staff running it. It wouldn't be as good as other chapters would be. I told that the members had to come to the chapters and not have a chapter in Pine Hill.

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