Edgar Sims' Mousy Ears May Look a Little Weird, but They're Better to Hear You With, My Dears
"Those ears" are a pair of Styrofoam Mickey Mouse-like appendages that Edgar developed with $9,000 of his retirement savings (he was in real estate and insurance). "They're based on the ancient principle of people cupping their hands around the ear to hear better," he explains. "After years of holding my hand or a paper or magazine or book behind my ear, it got tiresome. These ears work better than anything I've tried."
Others agree, including several slightly deaf doctors and mail-order customers as far away as Florida and New Jersey. Edgar's aural cheaters (he prefers to call them "sound clarifiers") sell for $8 a pair. "They cost me only a few cents for materials," he says, "but I feel the price is fair. People have to pay for the idea."
So far just one buyer has returned them—with the complaint "Looks ridiculous!" "They are a little unsightly," Edgar admits. "I couldn't imagine anyone wearing them out to a play or movie." His invention is "a must," he adds, for anyone with a battery-operated hearing aid. (He's tried six of the devices so far.) Since they often distort the sound they amplify, the big ears improve the reception significantly, Edgar says.
A sprightly octogenarian who still pumps iron at the local YMCA three times a week, Sims suffered his own hearing loss in 1943 while flying in an unpressurized airliner. His new plastic ears, he says proudly, are his first invention ("I can't even wind a clock without my wife's help").
Some people have a little trouble figuring out how to put them on. "You need a deft movement to loop them over your ear," Edgar notes. "There was one fellow who couldn't quite get the hang of it. He finally called me up and said, 'You forgot some of the parts. Where are the screws?' "