"I have this kind of trick ear"
James Stewart as George Bailey in 'It's a Wonderful Life'
Public DomainJames Stewart as George Bailey in 'It's a Wonderful Life' - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This is a reference to James Stewart's character George Bailey in the film It's a Wonderful Life. An always selfless character, Bailey lost his hearing in one ear after rescuing his brother from drowning.

It's a Wonderful Life was released in 1946, making this another curious instance of a character in Gravity's Rainbow making reference, either consciously or unconsciously, to something that they should not yet be aware of.