This life-size bronze of little Helen Keller stands quietly, unlighted, virtually un-noticed, in the back, lower Lobby of the Alabama Public Library Service out on Monticello Drive. The piece was sculpted by South Montgomery County artist Clydetta Fulmer, a graduate of Alabama Christian Academy. It depicts a young Helen sitting on a stump on the bank of the Tennessee River near Tuscumbia, being taught by Annie Sullivan. When cast, this was the only existing statue of Helen as a child. Clydetta also did the statue of Lemuel Montgomery that stands in front of the County Courthouse. People forget that Helen Keller had a sister Mildred who lived in Montgomery on Felder Avenue, and that Helen lived there with her for months at a time.
The amazing Helen Keller was born as a normal child in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1880, but was rendered blind and deaf by an illness before her second birthday. Her mastery of Braille and world affairs, despite those handicaps, made her a world renowned figure. Mark Twain said she and Napoleon were the two most interesting figures of his century. Yet, Helen was beset with financial difficulties, and about the time her sister lived in the above home, Helen was appearing in vaudeville shows, traveling on the Orpheum circuit, and writing books to support herself. Helen Keller died in 1968 and is buried in the Washington National Cathedral.
The bronze statue at left is a depiction of Keller at the water pump at Ivy Green when she first grasped the relationship of Braille words and objects. The statue was installed in the national Capital as a gift from Alabama in 2009.