What made Howe's work easier was the unsung work of Laura's mom
(who tended towards gentler methods) and a farm hand
named Tim, who was considered slightly mentally deficient, but was patient and kind enough to be a playmate
to Laura. By using different touches for "yes" and "no", she was able to teach Laura to yes, set the table, but also how to knit
, as well as other household tasks; Tim taught her how to gather eggs
from the hens
(which among other things involved identifying spoiled eggs from their shells and leaving one egg per nest
to keep the hens "broody").
Astute observers of Laura as a celebrity found her somewhat creepy. (Though her younger fans, who poked out the eyes of their dolls, were, as always, a close second.) The disease that had deprived her of her sight had, additionally, enucleated her : covering the empty eye sockets with a mask of green ribbon gave her a somewhat eerie appearence. She seldom smiled, and her inability to respond to others' emotional cues was, at times, embarrassing. Moreover, her late acquisition of language stamped her written communications with a peculiar "accent" that her contemporaries found "Latinate" and more recent biographers as "like the communications of an intelligent alien". Most distressing of all was her voice -- unable to speak in the manner we usually think of, she emitted husky growls whenever she felt frustrated, angry, or fractious, a tendency that her handlers tried to discourage as "unladylike" and glossed over to the public as "pet names" for her mentors. So much alarm was caused by her vocalizing that, when a barrier was erected between her and a large crowd of onlookers, Laura was known to have signed "Are the ladies so afraid of me, then?"
This is not to downgrade her achievement, which stand quite well by themselves, but serve to show exactly why Helen Keller is an icon, while Laura Bridgman is a footnote: Helen, when all was said and done, was cuter.