I, Sally Hobart Alexander, am a tall, blind woman who walks with my guide dog, Dave.
Everyone thinks Dave, a male German shepherd, is adorable. I think I myself am adorable, too, just like Dave.
After all, I can shake hands; I can sit and stay and fetch, as well as any guide dog.
I also write books, eight so far, and teach writing at Chatham University and out of my home.
I cook and clean and do most of the chores in the house I share with my husband, Bob.
I have two grown children, Joel and Leslie, one son-in-law, Jeremy, one daughter-in-law, Vannida,
one granddaughter, Raya, and one grandson, Clyde, who love me, but have to admit that
Dave is still more adorable than I am. I give up. You see, I’m also defenseless against
the charms of my loving, goofy, completely adorable dog.
Bob was an assistant professor of English at Point Park College, now University, when I first
met him in May 1973. A mutual friend fixed us up, so it was literally and figuratively a
blind date. On one of our first dates, we went to a series of silent movies, and I stayed
awake. Nothing like an English professor for good narrative during the silent parts of
movies! We were married in June 1974. For the first two years, we rode everywhere on our
Family on Parade
When my children were small and we went out walking, I needed two hands and a strong back.
Joel and Marit, my first guide dog, are both on leashes while Leslie rides in the backpack.
We made quite a parade.
Bob and Me
Recently we added a tandem kayak and paddled it on our maiden voyage in Small Point Beach,
Maine, where we’ve vacationed for over 45 years and where Bob vacationed with his
family twenty-five years before that.
After graduating from Michigan State University, Joel worked at the Palmer House in Chicago,
then moved to the beach in southern California where he was in corporate sales at the Anaheim
Hilton. He took a job with Hyatt and moved back to Chicago, preferring the cold weather to the
long commute. He’s had many promotions with Hyatt which have sent him to various parts of the
country. Mostly he’s been in California with his wife, Vannida.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Leslie worked for five years in
the Milwaukee Public Schools, teaching fourth grade.
She earned a masters’ degree in special education and taught fifth grade special ed.
In June, 2007, she moved to Philadelphia to be with her fiancé,
Jeremy, teaching 8th grade English and social studies in a Philadelphia Public School.
They married on June 28, 2009. On August 30, 2011 Leslie and Jeremy had a baby girl, Raya
Belle Greenberg. Raya means "friend" in Hebrew and Belle, "beautiful" in French. And Raya
lives up to that name perfectly. On March 25, 2014 Leslie and Jeremy gave Raya a little
brother, Clyde Levi.
Bio in Depth
Although I was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, I didn’t stay long enough to develop the southern accent.
My parents, older sister, Marti, younger brother, Bob, and I moved to Conyngham, Pennsylvania where I
rambled through woods, mountains, and fields, swam, did water ballet, rode horses, and played most sports
that used a ball.
I also acted out Robin Hood and Treasure Island and spent hours re-enacting the movie, “Quo
Vadis,” an epic about the early Christian era. Our favorite scene took place on the baseball
diamond turned amphitheater where the most popular boys defended the Christians against the lions.
After we’d perfected the game for several years, the school principal put a stop to it because
one enthusiastic lion actually bit a Christian and made her cry.
A nonviolent teacher encouraged my friends and me to write, rather than perform these stories, and we read
them to our classmates. From writing sentimental stories, two friends and I turned to composing songs,
terrible, tasteless things, as suggested by such titles as “B.O. Betty” and “Foul
My father was a gifted storyteller who remembered songs, jokes, expressions and tales from his childhood.
I spent more time with him than either my brother or sister, bouncing around the two-lane roads of
Pennsylvania. He immersed me in songs about the “chambermaid” who
Knocked at the door one morn,
Said, "Get up, you lazy sinner.
We need those sheets for tablecloths
And it’s darn near time for dinner!"
In trips back and forth to Bucknell University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary
education, I memorized his poems about “Joe, the Coward” and “Charlotte,”
and “Magnolia.” By the time I graduated, I was rich in folklore and deep friendships.
I’d grown to appreciate learning and travel.
In the picture to the right, I am with my older sister, Marti, from Good Hart, Michigan, and younger brother, Bob, from Chicago,
Illinois. Marti has three children, while my brother and I have only two. Marti also surpasses us in the grandchildren department, with seven.
My brother has three, and I have two.
In October, 1976, (at the time of the photo where I am holding Joel, with Kate and Bob Hobart, my
parents) my Dad had become blind from diabetic retinopathy, a disease prevalent in my family, but not
the cause of my blindness. My Mom grew up in Kentucky; my Dad, northeastern Pennsylvania. They met
when my Dad visited a customer in the hospital where my Mom was working.
So when I graduated, I accepted a teaching job in southern California where I remained for three years.
The third graders and I had happy hikes through the orange and avocado groves, fascinating adventures in
the tide pools along the beach, enjoyable hours playing recorders and singing musical comedy. The Vietnam
War was heating up, and my students wrote letters to American soldiers in Cam Ranh Bay. In return, they
received letters, gifts of Vietnamese money and dolls, and photos from their soldier pen pals.
I was unhappy to leave that last year when my visual difficulties began. When I was legally blind (able
to see at twenty feet what most people could see at two hundred), I entered an excellent training program
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then taught there for a year. In January, 1971 I began graduate school at the
University of Pittsburgh and earned a Master’s in Social Work Degree, just as I met the man I would
marry, Bob Alexander, June, 1974.
For three years I was a children’s therapist at St. Francis Hospital, but when our son Joel was born,
I resigned. Soon I entertained him with tales of Robin Hood and Treasure Island. When our daughter Leslie
arrived three years later, I was an old hand at concocting a story from any characters our children supplied.
Within a few years I joined a writing workshop and typed my stories on paper. After much hard work and many
rejections, Macmillan Publishing Company bought two books.
Two years after I became blind, I lost hearing in my right ear. In 1987 I lost hearing in the left ear.
Over the years, my hearing has slipped, so that I now wear two hearing aids which are very helpful.
My hope is to live an ordinary life despite my disabilities. Most of the time I reach this goal without
struggle or courage, but, occasionally, ordinary life for me requires both qualities. I write about
disabled people trying to do the same thing. My message to anyone interested in writing is simple:
“If I can do it, you can, too.”