Leo Beuerman with
tractor and cart
The following is an autobiography written by Leo in 1967. His account indicates some to the difficulty he had as he attempted to live a normal life.---------
Excerpted portions of Leo Beuerman's Autobiography.
March 30, 1967 I was born January 6, 1902, and oh so weak and fraile, hardly nothing to me. If I did not have a loving and thoughtful mother, you would not see me now. But with her loving care and prayer, I managed to live. She had to carry me around on a pillow for 6 months. I could not stand to be handled otherwise. Doctors too had doubts I would live, but for some reason (GOD'S I suppose) I managed to live. My baby hood was full of pains and sickness. But as I got older, I was less sick. However still very easily hurt. When I was about 6 years old I had a carbunkel on my back. Mother told me it was terrible and mighty painful. Mother's loving care and her prayers and also the help of doctors, it healed.
When I got strong enough to be less easily hurt my brother had the job of pulling me around in wagons, I enjoyed it very much. He and I would go fishing, and just traveling around a bit. He would trap gophers, ground squirrels on dad's alfalfa fields, etc. Mother and dad thought I would be to lonesome just sitting around so they got him to play with me and otherwise help me pass away the time.
I was always interesting in making things, and as far back as I can remember I made things of light pieces of wood, perhaps I was no more than 9 years old when I started. Of course, my things was not worth looking at, but still, I enjoyed it very much doing things like that. The older I got the more Interesting I became in making things. I well remember I made a fly trap. I made it out of small boards, hinged two pieces together and with rubber bands as springs, and have a small stick to hold the lid up I was able to catch thousands of flies. I tied a string on the stick and when there were a lot of flies, I jerked the string and the prop slipped out and the top board smashed down on the flies, crushing them, after that started it was very easy to get flies under the top board as flies eat one another, the dead flies drew them, only to get crushed too. Of course this trap was a very rough or crude thing, but my delight was not only in making it but knowing I made something that worked. Then I made a sparrow tray. I made a frame and wrapped screen around it, and with a trap door the birds would slide down into the trap. The trap door was inside a net-like box, that made the sparrows think it was something to build nests in, only to be caught. I did not catch any for a long time, but finally one day some three got in. Some way one got out. Mother killed the two. It was a very crude thing and hardly could be called a trap, but it worked. Whenever I had an idea I would think it over thoroughly, making a blue print in my mind, then getting to work and make it. I seldom had a failure. About the only times I had failures was when others would hinder me so much I could not finish it or some how gave it up. It was a awful thing for my family to have faith in me, it was, as nearly all handicapped people experience: "You can't" Then too, to waste a few small nails was not so wise for me to do. But I though I had exercise and I enjoyed things like that to do. So if possibly, I set to work; letting my hinderance come and go as they may. And to this very day, I am NOT sorry I kept plugging.
Then when I was about 12 years old our neighbor woman taught me how to crochet. It was fine pastime in the winter time and even in summer time. At first it was interesting. But in a few years, I got tired of it and in the summer time I hated to do any crocheting, as I longed to be out doors and making things.... In 1919 I came down with the measles. It all settled on my eyes. And oh, were my eyes sore. I could hardly see at all. ...
In 1919 I made myself the first wagon. It had baby buggy wheels. I had to make it very crudly [crudely] for I had nothing but hinderance [hindrance], but after all summer, I manage [ed] to finish it. But since it was made out of small pieces of wood, it did not last long, about two years I think. Then in 1920 I made an elevator by the 24 inch high porch so I could get in and out of the house when I pleased, before having it I had to wait until some one did help me out of the house, but all to often it was "you stay in the house." ... What a hindrance I got, they know I was only wasting the odds and ends of scrap boards and nails. But I kept on with it and after all summer time, I had it completed and working. Then those all knowing how crazy-like I was though it was fine; saving them the trouble to put me in and out of the house, that made it alright. It lasted about 5 years. ... So from 1920 until the flood in 1951, I had elevators to get out and in the house. Now we are in another house and its lower and I made a ramp instead of the elevator .
In 1921 I made myself some small boring machine by which I could drill metal. I worked fine, like the wagon, the elevator and things before. It was a good one, I still have it, inspite of it going through 3 floods. ... As soon as I had the vise made, I set to work and made myself another wagon. This time I made it much better, having the boring machine I could use metal for some parts instead of wood. ... Then from 1923 and on until 1928 I did nothing much at all, only loafing, keep elevator, etc., etc. repaired, anyway my mind seems to be blank in those 5 years.
Not entirely blank, for I well remember in the fall of 1924 my aunt told me about the black walnut kernels that stores bought and paid a fairly good price for, so I set to work and picked out many bushels of walnuts, getting about 60 pounds of kernels. Getting from 50 cents to 75 cents a pound. Getting about $50.00 for the winter, and I kept it up every winter for about 5 years, getting from about $35.00 to $55.00 the winter, but I was to easy with my money, it did not last long. The main trouble with me was I wanted to start a mail order business, buying one plan after another and all were nothing more to me then scraps of paper, most not worth to be printed, others would cost so much money I could not afford it. ;;;
In 1928, I made the last big wagon, I made it GOOD that time, and I am pleased to say, I still have the wagon. But of course I had to repair it many times. I judge I traveled about 10,000 miles with it. ... Then in 1936 I started getting more watch and clocks to fix also sold some. I enjoyed that work more then any work I ever did. You see it was working on a machine, so I enjoyed it all the more. Then when the world war II started I got so many watches and clocks I hardly knew what to do. I had some people waiting from 6 months to a year before I got their watch fixed. ... My watch business kept up pretty good until the 1951 flood. I lost heavily in that flood. I must have lost $1,000 in all, loosing it in the form of tools, watch parts, watches I had bought for sale, a typewriter I had bought a short time before in used condition for $25.00
Now I am going back to the late 'teen years and on. Was I risking my life as a feerless daredevil? The answer depends on what or how you look at it. When I had those wagons and before I got my tractor, I would take all day trips on the public roads, going up to 6 miles a day. ... I would go out in big weeds where snakes were a-plenty. But snakes never bother me the slightest bit. I some times saw snakes all around me, one time I went through tall weeds along the railroad tracks and I'll swear I saw a half a dozen snakes of the very poisonous kinds too. But none came to me, I had the idea since I did not hate snakes and saw them as GOD'S creatures or made by HIM. I did not fear them and I guess they sensed my fearlessness and let me alone. ...
I always got home before to late, rain, storm or anything, if I did not get home by myself, others would come along and take me home or I visited them and they insisted to take me home. ... Here is another thing that literally scared the day light out of people, I crossed the railroad tracks with my wagon and my eyes being so bad I could sometimes not see the fast coming trains, often a train would [go] past me when I was no more than 2 feet from its big wheels.
In 1950 I managed to get my tractor and I enjoyed it very, very much and still do. I wanted a small motor car, I remember I wanted or thought about wanting a car way back in 1914, but of course I did not voice it at all. Not until several years later, but of course everyone at home and some not here were sure it was a crazy idea. ... I got my tractor on May 7, 1950. To this day I have ran it almost 30,000 miles. And I will not part with it UNTIL I MUST!! You may ask, was everything going so nicely, again it depends how you look at it. I was often fool enough to go into deep mud and often where no one would find me if I got stuck ... One time I was going home about 10 P.M. and the lights went out. I grouped [groped] around and got within half a mile from home. I had to stop and let a car past, some how I killed the engine. I went about a tenth of a mile with my wagon and my nephew was going home, he saw me and took me home. There are other times my tractor gave me trouble but always, the DEAR LORD HAD help ready for me, so I never was in any serious trouble...I was hit by a car once one night, that landed me in the hospital for two weeks in 1957. Than again in 1959 I was hit by a slow moving train engine. Again I was in the hospital with the other leg broke... I have driven my tractor for nearly 17 years and still am going strong. The law did stop me some time in 1963 forcing me to get a driver's license. However, the license I got without the slightest trouble. ... In 1963 I was sleeping under the service station porch one night and a teenage boy and girl came along and robbed me. He was caught by a very good Christian colored man friend of mine. The robbers were taken to jail and they got put into the correction house in Manhattan, Kansas for 10 to 21 years....
Now lets see how the past 7 years had a GOOD chain reaction, for good of course. ... I was robbed on September 29th at about 2:30 A.M. Being in the hospital, my brother and other men went to the police station and got my tractor and drove it home for me. The best of this all is, as I was robbed and the paper gave the news article about it, some very nice Christian friends made them selves known to me, they came out and got me, took me to church and in other ways were very nice to me. I told them about my license trouble, and they so understandingly helped me to get my driver's license. If it was not for me being robbed, the good turned to my favor and got those Dear Friends to me. Those faithful friends and their help, made it very easy for me to get the license. And I have had very good luck with my tractor since, and what's more those Christian Friends are still MY FRIENDS and I see and enjoy them often. But wait, this is not all the good that will come to me for seeing only the GOOD that comes from LOVING GOD. At present I am promised a job in a movie. I would show people how I over came my handicap ever since I was born and how determinding [determination] can over come trouble. Of course I do not yet know how the movie business will turn out, but I am sure something good will come out of it....
I am now doing what no one at first would ever dare think I would ever do. When I look back over my life, way back when I was a baby, I can scarecely [scarcely] believe its possible I did all this and am going to do even more. Just think I was so weak and sickly and having no (ALMOST) strength, and now I am driving a tractor, being all by myself with all those strangers, and having such little trouble and enjoying life fairly well. ...
Was my past life lonesome and were I pittying myself? Well I think everybody is lonesome and feels sorry for them selves at time. But when I had nothing to do and was all by myself, or just plain living a empty life,... I would start day-dreaming and thinking what I would like to do. One of my greatest wish always was that I may get into some very profitable business and use my surplus money and help others that are to poor to have something to eat most of the time. ... Its my believe that well to do people who do not think about those unfortunate people, are going to be sorry some day. All through the teachings of CHRIST you will see that a helping hand for one's unfortunate brother is a Christian's highest duty. ...
For Leo Beuerman, life was a prison. He was different from anyone else - - at least on the outside. Barely three feet tall, he had flipper-type legs that could not support his round body. He was blind in one eye and had only limited sight in the other. He communicated by writing notes on an ever-present pad of paper. Though he could speak, his voice was gruff and difficult to understand. He was completely deaf, and had received no formal schooling because of his lack of mobility. Yet he was keenly intelligent. His spirit hungered for truth, for adventure and especially friendship. In the Lawrence, Kansas, area Leo long had been part of the scenery, but never of the society. Few really talked with him. And they began to talk about him only after he had been robbed one night while sleeping in his walker-cart, near where he sold pens and subscriptions during the day. *********
pg. created by caguy