StoryCorps N.H.: 30 years of friendship started in a Bristol classroom
The following transcription is a conversation between Debbie Doe and Andrew Harmon who first met nearly 30 years ago when she was a teacher, and he an elementary school student.
Debbie Doe: How long have we known each other, Andrew?
Andrew Harmon: I honestly don't think I can remember when we were first introduced. It's been so long ago.
Doe: Well, when you were in elementary school, you found out that you were going to lose your vision when you got older. Yeah, And that's why we know each other.
Harmon: Yeah, you were. You were my teacher. You taught me about Braille. And then when my eyesight started going downhill enough-- I couldn't really read without really squinting at the large print you taught me in Braille, especially since I was a voracious reader.
Doe: Well, I remember when you were little because I would see you—not to teach you Braille, but we would, you know— like meet a couple of times a month or maybe once a week when it got closer to…the time. And you would tell me what you were reading. And I was so impressed. And I always think some people are born readers, and you are a born reader.
Do you remember being told that you were going to lose your vision?
Doe: What was your reaction?
Harmon: I said something, but I don't remember the words. I just remember the emotion. It was somewhere between cataclysmic dread and just utter denial.
Doe: What I remember from when you were losing your vision was you being with your mom, and your mom being upset-- and you kind of being there with your shoulders around her and saying, ‘It's okay, Mom’.
Do you remember that?
Harmon: A little bit. Because she was even more upset than I was. She thought it was going to be like the end of me being able to read or anything, but she's even more stubborn than I am.
Doe: And do you feel like it was the end of all the things you wanted to do or were able to do?
Harmon: I was really into murder mysteries and mystery stories, so I wanted to be either a detective or a policeman, or something like that. I don't remember exactly. And I just remember thinking at some point over the years, there's no way I could do that if I didn't have the sight to be able to catch all the details and everything.
Doe: Andrew, We could have had our own detective agency! I wanted to be Sherlock Holmes. You never told me! [laughing]
Harmon: You had this great practice of making your older students work with your younger students, at least a little bit every year. And I really enjoyed it. So any opportunity I got to help pay it forward, because you definitely were a large part of me turning out as ...adequately as I have, I'll put it that way. [laughing]
Doe: What's our relationship now?
Harmon: Yeah. And it's hard to really put a title on it, honestly.
Doe: Still friends, after all these years.
Harmon: Yeah. I haven't driven you off yet.
Doe: No. And thank you for being my friend and my student.
Harmon: Thank you for being my friend and my teacher.
Andrew Harmon continues to work with Debbie and her students, as well as for a tech company in Montreal. This conversation was recorded as a partnership between Minot Sleeper library in Bristol, NH and StoryCorps.