Joan Whisnant


Below are two articles submitted by Marc Hartzman of about Joan (Whisnant) Beach.


Born Without Arms, this Six-Year-Old Oklahoma Tot Finds it No Handicap.

This article appeared in the Bismarck Tribune June 18th, 1930.

Sand Springs, Okla., Nature put a terrible handicap on little Joan Whisnant. But it also gave Joan a sturdy, determined soul.

The result is that Joan, overcoming long-odds, has found a way to an active, almost normal existence in spite of an affliction that might have seemed too great to be borne.

Joan, who is just 6 years old, was born without hands or arms. Apparently she was deemed from the cradle to be a helpless cripple. But her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Joe Whisnant, were determined that she should escape that fate as far as was humanly possible, and they have taught her to do with her feet what other children do with their hands.

As a result, Joan can write legibly, can eat from her own plate with her own knife and fork, can drink from her own cup or glass , can cut out paper dolls, play with her toys, wash dishes, comb her hair and embroider very nicely with a needle and thread.

Her first demonstration of dexterity with her toes came when as a small baby she kicked and played with a rubber ball, hung over her cradle by a string. At the age of 4 she was making marks with a pencil held between her toes. Now she is going to school, and aside from the fact that she has a special desk she is treated there as a normal child.

At home she insists on helping her mother with the housework. Her parents have declined all offers to have the girl go into vaudeville, and insist she never will.

“Joan has shown herself to be a normal child and not a curiosity,” says her mother. “We intend to educate and treat her as such.”


Article submitted by Marc Hartzman.

Without Arms, Hands, Learns to Play Guitar

This article appeared in the Sheboygan Press August 15, 1936.


Though she was born without arms and hands, a 12 year-old Oklahoma girl has learned to play the guitar. Developing the use of her toes, Joan Whisnant took guitar lessons in Tulsa, her hometown. There she appears in entertainments, and does many things despite her handicap.

                                                           Keep the Pace

“I just picked up my ability to write, sew and draw with my toes,” Joan writes from 2224 west Fortieth street, “I like to play jacks and do everything anyone else does.” Nor has the courageous girl allowed her handicap to interfere with her schooling. She will enter the eighth grade this fall, having kept pace with her classmates.


Article submitted by Marc Hartzman


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