Andrew Bradford

The story of Charlie and Kathy Bradford

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Happy Days are Here Again

Posted on March 9, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The first thing that Elliott Roosevelt did when he arrived at the Democratic Party's convention in Chicago in 1932 was to make sure that the curtains were fully drawn across the front of the stage. He had to ensure that the audience of thousands were not in a position to sneak a view of what he had to do in thirty minutes time.


Satisfied that his actions would not be visible, the twenty-two year old son of the former governor of New York then introduced himself to the sound engineer and made sure that the recording would be played as soon as the curtains opened, and hurried back to the stage door where his father was waiting in the car. He lifted his father's wheelchair out of the trunk, pushed it to the front passenger door and opened it.


"You ready Dad?" he asked. Franklin D Roosevelt nodded his approval.


By this time Franklin already knew that he had the won the nomination to be the party's presidential candidate by a landslide, but this was to be the first time that the successful candidate had appeared at the convention to accept the nomination in person. The Roosevelt family had flown to Chicago from Buffalo that morning in a cramped Ford Trimotor plane. Passenger air transport was in its infancy, and the journey through thunderstorms had been arduous. Several members of the family were sick, but their father seemed to relish this new experience. Elliott and his brothers had had great difficulty in carrying their six foot three inch father to his seat, and it was even more difficult to get him off the plane without revealing the full extent of his disability to the waiting press. Elliott and his father were relieved that there were no newsreel cameras at the airport.


As Franklin reached for the top of the car door for support, Elliot reached into the bottom of the footwell and grabbed his father's surgical boots to swing him through ninety degrees so that he was facing him. He then felt for the locking mechanisms on both his father's leg irons, straightened his legs and lifted him out of the car into an upright position. His brother James then brought the wheelchair nearer and Elliott swung his father through one hundred and eighty degrees so that he was in contact with the wheelchair. As Elliott found the locking mechanism on his father's leg irons to put him in a sitting position, James lifted him by the armpits to make sure he was correctly seated.


Elliott began to push his father toward the stage door when his father cried out "My cane, Son". They had forgotten that soon to be president's walking cane was still in the trunk.


Once Franklin and his cane were reunited, Elliott continued the journey. It was still difficult; the corridors were narrow and there were six steps up to the rear of the stage. Elliott, James and a couple of stagehands had to the nominee in his wheelchair onto the stage.


Today would be the first day of a frenetic campaign in which Franklin would visit over twenty states, travelling by car, plane and train. At each stop his sons would have to manhandle him in the same way that they were doing today, and each time they did so aides would be deployed to make sure that no press photographers were around to see the full extent of the candidate's physical impairment. In the FDR presidential library at Hyde Park, New York there are over 35,000 photos of Franklin D Roosevelt. Only one of them shows him in his wheelchair. He was concerned that if the full extent of his disability became public knowledge, he would be unelectable. Before 1932 presidential candidates did not campaign on the road, they stayed at home and wrote articles for newspapers. FDR would change campaigning for ever because he wanted to be seen as a man of action. Firstly he needed to convince the American public that despite surviving Polio eleven years earlier he was physically capable of doing the job, but secondly he just loved campaigning.


When they reached the podium James straightened his father's legs and lifted him out of his wheelchair into an upright position. FDR grabbed the podium to support himself and the wheelchair was taken out of sight. Elliott signalled to the stage manager, and the as the curtains opened the recording of "Happy Days Are Here Again" began to play to the audience, but was drowned out by applause.


FDR lifted one arm from the podium to quell the cheers and began his speech with the words "Let us now and here resolve to resume the country's interrupted march along the path of real progress, of real justice, of real equality for all of our citizens, great and small."


The new deal had begun. A few months later FDR won the presidency by a landslide.


After the convention was over the Roosevelt family went to their hotel. In the hotel bedroom it was Elliott and James who helped their father undress, taking the leg irons off one by one, standing them in the corner and lifting their father onto the bed.

This photograph is reproduced by courtesy of the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York

 

My thoughts about Twitter

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)


 

"Twitter is in constant tension between people wanting dialogue and people wanting monologue"

 

Posted by Scott Berkun on Twitter, 19 November 2012

 

In January 2011 I attended a self-publishing course. I was just about to self-publish a family memoir called "Live Eels and Grand Pianos", and I needed the course to give me ideas about how to market this book. I was told that Twitter was essential, so I logged in and joined up. I knew very little about it, most of it from hearsay. I had two conflicting ideas about Twitter.

 

One was that it was full of people telling each other what they'd had for breakfast and how many vodka shots they'd drank last night, but the other was that this forum had been used by protesters in Egypt and other Arab countries to convey news that would be suppressed by government controlled traditional media. I also knew about Trafigura.

 

In October 2009 London law firm Carter Ruck obtained an injunction barring the Guardian from reporting about its client energy and mining firm Trafigura, The injunction prevented the newspaper from reporting a parliamentary question from Paul Farrelly MP to justice secretary Jack Straw about Trafigura's activities involving the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. Trafigura had had to pay €152milion damages to thousands of Ivorians whose health had been damaged as a result. UK Media outlets had been unable to report on the story up until then due to persistent threats from Carter Ruck.

 

 

The Guardian simply reported that it was the subject of an injunction from a law firm it couldn't name, acting on behalf of a client it couldn't name, barring it from reporting proceedings in parliament concerning an MP who it couldn't name. Within hours the hashtags #Trafigura and #CarterRuck were all over Twitter, and Carter Ruck withdrew the injunction.

 

So what was Twitter? A liberating force for freedom of speech and a means where people whose voices are not normally heard could be heard, or just a mass of empty headed banality, or could it be both? I needed to find out.

 

I sent my first tweet in November 2010 and I've now sent about 1,000. What do I tweet about? Very occasionally I shamelessly plug the two books that I've self published, "Live Eels and Grand Pianos" and "Dotty Dorothy: The Perfect Spy". "Live Eels" is the story of my parents, Kathy and Charlie Bradford, both of whom were left seriously disabled by the Polio virus in the early years of the last century, so I needed to get some followers who may have an interest in the topics of disability rights and disability history. Somehow I stumbled on disability bloggers Sarah Ismail (@Samedifference1) and Kaliya Franklin(@BendyGirl) who have both retweeted my posts about this book, for which I thank them. I also thank them for enlightening me about the discrimination and stigma that people with disabilities face today. I am ashamed to admit that although I knew a lot about the struggles for inclusion that people of my parents generation went through in the early and middle part of the twentieth century I didn't know nearly enough about today's challenges and injustices.

 

I also tweet about books, writing, publishing and self-publishing, and follow several bloggers on these subjects. I particularly recommend Mick Rooney's (@Mick Rooney7777) Independent Publishing Magazine to anyone contemplating self-publishing. I follow many Guardian and Daily Telegraph journalists, and devour and usually retweet posts about the abuses of power by Rupert Murdoch's evil empire that the Leveson enquiry will pass judgement on shortly.

 

In the spring of this year Greenacre Writers (@GreenacreWriter) discovered me on Twitter and asked me to read from "Live Eels" at a literary festival in North London. I enjoyed that a lot, and Rosie Canning (one of Greenacre's founders) is currently campaigning against library closures in the London borough of Barnet. I am of course following this campaign on Twitter.

 

I find that I increasingly depend on Twitter for breaking news, and I worry that as result of these digital initiatives that there may not be any printed newspapers in a few years time. I love the online world, but I think that we would be a much impoverished society if here were no printed newspapers, magazines or books, and no high street outlets where we could browse them.

 

But my conclusion is that Twitter is a force for good. It does give people and causes a voice that may not otherwise be heard. I hope it's sustainable though. Twitter posted a net loss of $25.8 million on revenue of $23.8 million in the first three months of 2011, and its backers do not have unlimited resources. Let's hope it manages to build the revenues to ensure its long term survival.

 

For those of you who want to know more about the growth and use of Twitter, here are some facts:

 

1. Twitter had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007.

2. In 2008 there were only 3 million registered users and only 1.25 million tweets per day.

3. In 2009 Twitter had 8 million registered users.

4. From 8 employees in 2008 to over 400 employees in 2011.

5. Top 3 countries: US (107.7 million), Japan (29.9 million) and Brazil (33.3 million).

6. It took 3 years, 2 months and 1 day to tweet to the billionth Tweet.

7. Today it only takes one week for users to send a billion Tweets.

8. In March 2010 the average number of tweets people sent per week was 350 million. In February 2011 the average number of tweets people sent per day was 140 million.

9. The most popular Twitter user by number of followers is Lady Gaga. She has more than 18 million followers. She gains followers faster than Twitter adds new accounts.

10. When Michael Jackson died (June 25 2009) there were 456 tweets per second (a record-breaker for its time).

11. The current tweets per second record is 6,939 tweets per second. This was set 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.

12. On March 12, 2011, 572,000 new accounts were created on that one day.

13. The average number of new accounts per day created in February 2011 was 460,000.

14. The number of mobile users have increased by 182% over the past year.

15. There are an estimated 225 million users in March 2011.

16. In 2010, 25 billion tweets sent and 100 million new accounts were added on Twitter.

17. The first unassisted off-Earth Twitter message was posted from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut T. J. Creamer on 22nd January 2010.

18. 92% Reweet due to interesting content.

19. 69% decide who to follow through suggestions from their friends.

20. Twitter is ranked as one of the ten most visited websites.

21. Tweets are mostly conversational (38%) and pointless babble (40%).

22. Demographics of Twitter users: 54% female. 53% no kids. Users range from incomes of £0-30k (17%) to over £100k (30%). 41.5% are aged 18-39.

23. Twitter is approaching 500 Million Users – Estimated to reach this in 8 days, 7 hours.

24. Currently, Twitter is growing at over 1.123 million accounts per day, which amounts to more than 13 new accounts per second.

25. In the 5 years since launching it has attracted significant investment funds with an estimated total capital raising of over $1.3 billion. The most significant investment was Digital Sky Technology in August, 2010, which was at over $800 million.

26. In June 2011, it was announced that Twitter would be embedded in the new Apple mobile operating system. After the launch of the new Apple mobile iOS5 operating system, Twitter registered sign ups had increased by 300% per day.

27. 60% of new users are coming from outside the U.S.

28. 10 tweets per second mention Starbucks.

29. IBM can predict wait times at airports by crowdsourcing information from tweets. They search tweets for mentions of airports, then send an @reply to the tweeters and ask them to reply with wait times.

30. Scientists can tell with great accuracy where you are from just by the words you use in your tweets.

31. People are more inclined to Tweet something negative than positive. 80% of customer service tweets are negative.

32. Every public tweet since Twitter’s inception in March 2006 will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. IBM plans to map every archived tweet to Wikipedia, and tag it with sentiment, to make them more digestible.

33. Twitter has been valued at $8 billion.

34. 85% of recruiters use Twitter for recruitment.

35. 81% of users follow less than 100 people.

36. 61% of all tweets are in English.

37. 5% of users create 75% of the content

38. 75% of traffic comes from outside of the Twitter interface.

39. 66% of questions asked have some commercial intent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paralympic Blog No 1: Paralympic History

Posted on August 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I thought I’d post a few blog entries about the London 2012 Paralympic Games.  This is the first one, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about the origins of Para Sports, as well as show you a few family photographs of para-sports in 1949:


People with disabilities have always taken part in sports. Here is a picture of my Dad, Charlie Bradford, taken at a motor tricycle rally organised by the Invalid Tricycle Association in Finsbury Park, London in about 1949. I can’t tell you any more about the event; I was only one year old at the time!


I’ll tell you more about the ITA and its sports rallies later on in the blog, but first let’s talk about the Paralympic movement and its founder, Sir Ludwig Guttmann.


Sir Ludwig Guttmann and the Stoke MandevilleGames


Guttmann was born in Tost, Upper Silesia, Germany (now Toszek, Poland) and graduated in medicine at the University of Breslau in 1924. As a student, he developed a deep interest in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. He came to Great Britain as a refugee in 1939 and continued his research at Oxford. In 1944, he  founded the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. Most of his patients were ex-servicemen who had been injured in the war.


Guttmann believed that sport was a method of therapy, using it to help build physical strength and self-respect. He organised the first Stoke Mandeville Games tournament in 1948, and by 1952, this annual event was attracting over 130 international competitors. It continued to grow, impressing Olympics officials and the international community. In 1956 he was awarded the Fearnley Cup, an award for outstanding contribution to theOlympic ideal.



His vision of an international games the equivalent of the Olympics came to fruition in 1960 when the International Stoke Mandeville Games were held in Rome alongside the official IOC 1960 Summer Olympics. Known at the time as the 9th Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games, the Rome games are now recognised as the first Paralympic Games.


In Seoul in 1988 the Paralympic Summer Games were held directly after the Olympic Summer Games, in the same host city, and using the same facilities. This set a precedent that has been followed ever since.


The Paralympic movement originated in Great Britain, and GB has always aimed high and achieved high. Since 1960 GB has been awarded 493 gold medals in the summer games, more than any other country outside the United States, which has been awarded 666 summer golds.


Trischa Zorn of the United States is the most decorated Paralympian in history. She competed in the blind swimming events and won a total of 55 medals, 41 of which are gold. Her Paralympic career spanned 24 years from 1980 to 2004.


Great Britain’s most decorated paralympian isTanni Grey Thompson, who won a total of 16 medals, including 11 golds, held over 30 world records, and won the London Marathon six times between 1992 and2002.


Para-sports have always been with us –the Invalid Tricycle Association 1948-1960

If you’ve read "Live Eels and Grand Pianos" you’ll remember that in Chapter 12 I describe meetings of the Invalid Tricycle Association; which is now known as Disabled Motoring UK. Here are two more photos from that sports rally in 1949:



This picture shows me with my Mum and Dad, Charlie and Kathy, at the rally in 1949. I was about a year old. The rally was held in Finsbury Park, only a few miles from the Olympic Park. There was no shortage of spectators,even then.



This picture shows a hand-propelled tricycle race at the same rally. I’ve no idea who the athletes are.


The Invalid Tricycle Association was founded by O. A Denly (1924-2010), who was always known as Denny. In 1945 Denny became paralysed from the waist down by Polio while serving in the Royal Navy , and was issued with a petrol powered tricycle with a maximum speed of 30mph. In June 1947 he crossed the Swiss Alps on it, and in August the same year listeners to the BBCHome Service were enthralled by a broadcast about his extraordinary expedition.


So much interest was aroused by the radio broadcast that an article appeared in Motorcycle Magazine to float the idea of an association, and in January 1948 the Invalid Tricycle Association was formed. Initially the main activities revolved around rallies and excursions. Travel always formed a large part of the ITA, but the association also focused on mutual help and support for its members.


Denny wrote this about his trip across theAlps:


“When in the Royal Navy it was my ambition to spend my first Foreign Service leave in Switzerland, and although I had to leave the Navy due to Infantile Paralysis I decided that it would not stop my visiting Switzerland. So on the evening of the 27th June I left the Albert Dock Hospital in my Argson Invalid Tricycle powered by a 147cc two-stroke engine, with two forward speeds and a top speed of 30m.p.h.The vehicle weighs 250 lbs, with sprung front forks and frame, though there is no springing on the back axle. I cut the load as much as possible, but as I cannot walk at all I had to carry a small collapsible self-propelling wheelchair on the side, for use in buildings, my own bed in case there was no one to carry me upstairs and with food, baggage and myself  the load was approximately260 lbs.”


You can read the fulltext of Denly’s journey here.


Athletes with disabilities who havecompeted in the Main Olympics


Plenty of paralympians have gone on to compete in the main games. In recent years theSouth African 400 metres runner Oscar Pistorious “the Blade Runner” and his compatriot, swimmer Natalie du Toit have attracted the most publicity.


But not many people know that Ray Ewry, from Indiana USA, a polio survivor, won eight gold medals at the 1908 Olympics. Ewry contracted polio in 1881 when he was eight. In 1889, he was a high school senior still using crutches. The following year, he was an engineering student at Purdue University who was setting records in the standing high jump and long jump, events that have fallen away from the world of track and field. His best standing long jump was 11 feet, 4 7/8 inches. Nick Winkelman, director of performance education at Athletes' Performance, trains America's top collegefootball players for the NFL. He says current players don't come close to Ewry.

*****

I’ll blog more about the Paralympics after the opening ceremony, and after I’ve been to the stadium on 31 August to watch the following events in the evening:


Men's Long Jump Final- F42/44

Women's Discus Throw Final - F40

Women's 200m Round 1- T46

Men's 100m Round 1- T35