Second- or third-hand brushes with history

Somewhat along the lines of “6 degrees of separation,” we sometimes meet somebody who has some sort of association with a historic person or event.

I have two:

I took a philosophy class in college–the teacher was a somewhat-older lady. Her father was one of the judges at the Nuremberg Trials.

I worked at Burger King about 18 years ago. One day I served a lady who was a Holocaust survivor. She was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and I saw the tattooed number on her arm.

I’m a messianic jew. I go to a messianic jewish congregation and there was a gentleman who attended for a while who was the second person inside the gate at one of the concentration camps that was liberated by allied forces. There used to be another lady who attended who was a prisoner at the camp that he liberated.

I’ve a vague connection to the Holocaust. I was a frequent houseguest of a woman who lost many relatives in the camps and contributed much to the Holocaust museum. And she was a classmate of Peter Schiff…

In her Diary, Anne Frank reveals that she was smitten by a boy named Peter; they had been ‘inseparable’ for a whole summer, walking hand in hand through their neighbourhood in Amsterdam.

Little was known about Peter Schiff but his name; more than half a century later he was identified and the few living classmates who could be found contributed their memories to the Holocaust museum.

I met Paloma Picasso (Pablo’s daughter); my brother went to Woodstock. My parents met Princess Diana when they were in London.

I had breakfast with Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins.

I’ve met Al Gore twice.

My father was on the USS Eldorado, the flagship at the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The photo of the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima was developed on his ship.

I gave a tour once here in Panama to a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

A high school classmate was a fire chief who died at the WTC on 9/11.

I was at Woodstock and a couple of marches on Washington in 1969 and 1970. I guess those count as first hand.

My dad took a dump with Lester Maddox in a public restroom in the 70’s. He said it smelled about like you’d expect.

I walked in on Alan Greenspan, in Ayn Rand’s bathroom. He had left the door ajar, and was sitting on the toilet in the dark. I don’t remember the smell.

You can’t just put a thing like that out there without the backstory.

I actually have had Howard Stern cut me off in traffic. He Really Is an Asshole (and/or a very bad driver).

During a tour at Tule Lake, we met a woman who was in that Japanese internment camp during WWII.

I served with a man who was on board the USS Frank Evans when it was cut in half by an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea during the Vietnam War.

In college in 1983, I took a Criminology class taught by George J. Reed, who had twice been Commissioner of the United States Parole Board (1953-1964, 1969-1978). Fascinating man. He had met Charles Manson a few times.

I once wielded power over the United States ambassador to Indonesia. Back in the 1970s, our school was doing a summer stock play (possibly The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail), and I was taking tickets. I was told that we couldn’t start until the ambassador and his wife showed up.

A man and a woman came up and without even trying to give me tickets, reached to open the door. I said, “Excuse me, sir, but they haven’t opened the doors yet.” He said, “OK,” and then turned to chat with some other people. About 10 minutes went by and people were getting restless. The director stuck her head out of the door to ask me if the ambassador had shown up, yet, and then blanched when she saw the man and his wife.

I got a royal chewing out, but, in my defense, I was not an embassy brat, so I had no idea what the ambassador looked like!

I used to hang at a bar where Roger Clinton was a regular.

I almost fell off a ladder once. I was almost history.

A high school friend of mine was Bob Dole’s legal counsel and might have been Attorney General or chief of staff had the 1996 elections gone differently.

So no chance for a Proustian moment? Bummer.

OK, that’s kind of a sick burn if you meant it as a second-hand brush with history…

I graduated college with guitarist Joe Walsh.

Well, I got my BS and he got an honorary doctorate. On the same day on the same stage. :slight_smile:

My uncle twice removed, survived the experience of the Lost Battalion. One of my uncles died in Bataan Death March. Another uncle was the bombardier on a B-17 that dropped its load on Berlin. My FIL served during the Korean Conflict. Two of my cousins pushed helicopters off of ships decks in the last days of the Vietnam Conflict. Another cousin, from the other side of my family, flew one of those helicopters. His brother is MIA.

I took a Physics class from one of the men who put Sputnik in space. I took a Statics class from a NASA statistician who worked on The Space Shuttle Program. My shop teacher in HS drove two US Presidents around. The Physics teacher worked on the Manhattan Project. I later worked in a Math & Science Museum with three other Manhattan men. They all knew my HS Physics teacher. I got them together online.

I have eaten breakfast with Chuck Yeager. He was at the table next to me at a restaurant in a town in Northern California, we nodded at each other. I have met his daughter, Jeana, & Burt Rutan as well. I shook their hands.

Growing up, on the street corner nearest to my house, there were four veterans of WWII. One Marine who served on Iwo Jima among other places. One Sea Bee who also served in the Pacific Theater. One man who served in the European theater. Last but not least, one man who along with his mother, father, brother, sister, & wife were interred here in Colorado because his ancestors came from Japan. He served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. They all got on with each other & had neighborhood barbecues that I attended while I lived there. I mowed the grass for all of them, as well as delivering their papers.

Not people, but machines, I have worked on some historic aircraft. The Hughes H-4 Hercules, AKA The Spruce Goose. A few of them served in WWII, two C-47s, one Grumman G-44, AKA a Widgeon, & many bombers that later served as slurry bombers in the PNW fighting forest fires. That is where I met most of them. While working for Boeing, I operated a manual lathe that had a tag stating that it was the property of the USAAF. The tag was dated June 1942.

I could list more, but these few will seem like bragging to some folks.

But Seriously, Folks.

FYI, there is no family relation between Chuck Yeager and Jeana Yeager.