National Geographic : 1968 Mar
Big day for little guests: During a tour of Brookley Air Force Base, Headstart youngsters from St. Vincent's School file through a hangar and climb aboard a C-119 troop carrier. A major maintenance center for the Nation's air arm in World War II, Brookley is now being deactivated and its facilities leased to private industries. Keys to open the gates of silence: Preschool deaf children practice consonant exer cises at the Rotary Rehabilitation Center. When four-year-old Sam Feibelman makes the sound "b," his breath flutters the paper strip held by teacher Janet Horton. Both Sam and classmate Brian Wiggins wear aids to supplement a vestige of hearing. The city's Rotary Rehabilitation Center is a model of its kind (opposite) and has drawn patients from as far away as Australia. I walked one morning through the center's long bright corridors with Myrna Ely, the program director. Along the way we visited diagnostic laboratories, handicraft centers, and gymnasiums with white and Negro pa tients hard at work with athletic equipment, strengthening damaged muscles. As Mrs. Ely passed, there was an occasional lift of a head or a quick smile, but rarely a greeting: Breath was for more serious business. Later, Mrs. Ely introduced me to one of the center's 200 patients, a strikingly pretty Ne gro girl of about 16, who was exercising a badly wasted leg with a bean bag strapped to her ankle. I asked her how many of her fellow patients were Negro, and how many white. "Well, now," she answered, smiling, "I couldn't really tell you, but I guess it comes 388 out about even. Around here, nobody pays any mind to your outsides. Only thing counts is what's wrong underneath." To help support such farsighted public services as the rehabilitation center, Mobile looks to its major industries. One morning I toured International Paper Company's giant mill on the city's northern edge with Ion Walker, a company official. The mill and others like it scattered within a 200-mile radius of Mobile represent the world's largest concentration of paper production. Giant Jackstraws Feed Paper Mill Our tour of International began in the wood-storage yard, with its mountain range of logs piled jackstraw-fashion and constant ly showered by a score of huge sprinklers (preceding pages). "Water helps preserve the wood and makes it easier to remove the bark," Ion said.