Bio in Brief

Here I am walking Flossie

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.

"Blind" Date

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 tandem bicycle.

This is Bob and me at our wedding

Family on Parade

This is me with Leslie on my back, Joel on a leash, and my first guide dog, Marit

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 thirty years and where Bob vacationed with his family twenty-five years before that.

Bob and me kayaking in Small Point beach Maine


This is Bob and me at our daughter Leslie's wedding

Here we are at our daughter, Leslie’s, wedding.

Joel

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 moved back to Chicago in 2003, preferring the cold weather to the long commute. Joel moved in April 2007 to the Hyatt Regency Resort and spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. He moved again to the Hyatt Century Plaza In Los Angeles, and in May was transferred to Boston, MA. To be Director of Sales and Marketing for the Harborside Hyatt. In March, 2013 Joel was offered another director of sales and marketing position at a larger Hyatt hotal in Irvine, CA. Joel is now in the same position at the Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco airport and shares life with a beautiful wife, Vannida.

Here is Joel with Hines Ward

Here is Joel with Hines Ward and Joel’s colleague Michael.


Here is Joel with Leslie at her wedding.

Here is Joel with Leslie at her wedding


Here is Joel with childhood hero and former Pittsburgh Steeler, Jerome Bettis, as well as high school and college friend, Ryan Abelman

Here is Joel with childhood hero and former Pittsburgh Steeler, Jerome Bettis, as well as high school and college friend, Ryan Abelman.


Here are Bob and me with newlyweds, Joel and Vannida.

Here are Bob and me with newlyweds, Joel and Vannida.


Leslie

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.

This is Leslie and Jeremy at their wedding

Below are Leslie and Jeremy at their wedding.


Leslie and Raya, April, 2013 when Raya was 20 months.

Leslie and Raya, April, 2013 when Raya was 20 months.


Here is a picture of Clyde Levi Greenberg, my grandson, now about 15 months.

Here is a picture of Clyde Levi Greenberg, my grandson, now about 15 months.


Here is my granddaughter Raya Greenberg, 3 and a half.

Here is my granddaughter Raya Greenberg, 3 and a half.


Here is a picture of Raya and Clyde riding bikes.

Here is a picture of Raya and Clyde riding bikes.


Bio in Depth

Picture of Conyngham Valley

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.

This is a picture of me with my siblings as children. I am on the left with younger brother Bob in the middle and my older sister Marti on the right

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 Sal.”

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.

This is a picture of me with my siblings as adults. I am sitting next to Marti to my left and Bob is poking his head between us with his arms around us.

Here 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.

Below, I am holding Joel, with Kate and Bob Hobart, my parents. At the time of this photo, October, 1976, 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.

In this picture I am holding Joel, with Kate and Bob Hobart, my parents

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.”