A Tribute to Irv, by Stephen Gulley

During this semester, the Brandeis University Sociology Department has begun to offer the course entitled ďThe Sociology of DisabilityĒ once again. Professor Marty Krauss was invited to lead the class and I was asked to be the teacherís assistant. This was, of course, Irvís class. While it has been difficult to try to carry on in his absence, we hope he is pleased that we are making the attempt. The first day of class was organized as a tribute to Irv. Judy Norsigian, Professor Gordon Fellman and Professor Krauss each shared their memories of Irv with the new class (of over 50 students!) and spoke powerfully about the legacy he left us. In addition, we showed a tape of Irv telling the short stories you can read on this website and so our students also had the opportunity to hear from Irv in his own words.

I canít even begin to say how much it means, how much I am honored, to be able to be involved with this class. I know with all my heart that we cannot replace what Irv offered to his students, and to this day I regret that I was not able to study formally with him, as his student. But I did have the very good fortune to meet Irv, and in fact, to hear him tell some of his short stories in person. That meeting changed something in me. And so it seemed fitting to share my own memories of Irv with the class in the form of a short story. Afterwards, Judy asked that I pass this story along for the website. Please understand that I am not a storyteller like Irv was, nor do I have his way with words. But as I heard him tell these stories again, and as I tried to commit my own story to paper, I did find an opportunity to be his student after all-- if only for a moment.

The result is something I call: Irv and the Big Blue Hippie Van. I hope that Irv would get a chuckle or two from it and I hope you will find something of meaning herein.


Stephen Gulley

February 20, 2001

Update, Fall 2011.  It has been ten years since I penned this story.  Irv's class is still going strong at Brandeis.  Here is a link to a term paper that a student of mine published in Disability Studies Quarterly a couple years back; It includes a preface that describes the recent history of Sociology of Disability at Brandeis. Enjoy!  SG