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True Love

by Terry Veldhouse

Every once in a while you hear a story that just cant be true. At least itcouldn'tbe true in todaysworld. This is one of those stories.

Claude was an unusually talented and active boy. As a twelve year old, Claude and a bunch of friends were playing in the school yard a game of what we know as Crack the Whip. Claude, on this particular day, was at the very end of the whip and ended up flying into a brick wall. The impact was so great that it broke his ear drums on both sides and left him totally deaf. Today, a surgeon would fix that, but in 1898 there was no cure.

Claude kept going. He learned to become an expert lip reader, so that often others did not realize that he could not hear them. He already knew how to talk, so that didn't give him away either. He was so good, that as a young man he became a door-to-door salesman for Fuller Brush Company. Back then, before the internet, you could only buy Fuller products from an actual human being who came to your door with everything stashed in one of those tweed looking suitcases. There are not many geezers who dont remember this happening at their house.

This is all amazing enough, but it gets better. One day, Claude, who is now about 32, meets up with a young sales person named Clara who is 16 years old. It seems Clara and Claude are in the same business. Not many details are known about this first encounter, but we do know that Clara made a huge impression on Claude, and he made a big sale. We know this is true because Claude and Clara eventually tied the knot and had a daughter named Doris, who now lives at Washington Crossing. Today, Doris is 95 years old.

After landing Claude, Clara started cutting hair around the neighborhood and eventually owned a beauty shop at 614 West First Street in Sioux Falls. Claude was soon employed as a decorator for the local hotels and spent most of his life refurbishing rooms at the Carpenter and Cataract Hotels in downtown Sioux Falls. And Doris? Her mom took her out of school at the age of 14 to go to beauty school and at 16 she, you guessed it, married a local guy named Russell Daugherty, who worked for many years at Sioux Falls Electric Company.

All because Claude could read (and kiss) lips.

Washington Crossing is Sioux Falls' premier independent senior living community.