Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, April 1, 1960

    After the program -- the reverberations of which were felt for months afterwards -- Tracy agreed to go back to Camarillo, if we'd do what we could to get him transferred to the Veteran's Hospital at Sawtelle.
    He'd spent two years there for epilepsy and severe burn treatments (he fell onto a stove during a seizure in 1956) before being sent to Camarillo.
    Since the day he appeared in my office, I've kept in close touch with Tracy.  Shortly after being returned to Camarillo, he got his wish and was permitted to go back to the regular VA hospital.  There, a series of 37 skin-grafting operations and bone surgery on his hands was completed.
    He kept me filled in, after his release, on what he was doing.  For half a year or so, he had a job at Hollywood market, working six days a week and spending the seventh as a volunteer worker at the VA's manual arts therapy shop.  He helped other hospitalized veterans learn the manual skills which he had been taught to strengthen his hands.
    Then we kind of fell out of touch until yesterday, when Tracy dropped by my office, with suit, white shirt and necktie.  He brought with him a boxful of his work: finely detailed wooden Conestoga  wagons, jewelry boxes, picture stands.
    "This is the kind of stuff that we make over at the VA," he told me.  "I wanted you to see it to show you what we can do."
A Humble Business
    He also brought along a book which has become his Bible.  Its title: "Give Us the  Tools."  By Henry Viscardi Jr. It's a factual account of how Viscardi, born without legs, began a humble business in a bare garage in New York with three other badly handicapped men and, in five years, built it into a million-dollar industry which

Caryl Chessman Columnists Front pages Paul Coates
04/01/2010 14:05

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