Your brush with history

Mine: my dad was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

He had joined the Army Air Corps in the summer of 1941, after President Roosevelt’s radio request that able-bodied men enlist. Dad was especially pleased that he was stationed at Wheeler Field, Hawaii when he completed basic training. He wasn’t so pleased on the morning of December 7th, however, when he had to dive into some dense bushes to avoid getting strafed by two Japanese fighter planes.

He had been guarding the radio station at Wheeler. From his vantage point, he could see Pearl Harbor. At first, he thought the attack was an unscheduled readiness drill. As the attack progressed and more fires broke out, he thought that perhaps some hangars were burning and the planes he saw buzzing 'round the base were being moved out of harm’s way. Only after the aforementioned strafing run did he realize that the island was under attack. More Japanese planes had to fly over before the sergeant operating the radio would believe Dad’s story.

What’s your family’s brush with history?

My grandfather was a metal cutter at Grumman’s on Long Island. He cut the parts for the LEM’s that landed on the moon. I always thought that was the COOLEST thing in the world. It’s great to look up at the moon and know that there are things my grampa built up there.

Uh… I was at Quebec City…

Well, my great-uncle was in the infamous Polish Cavalry when Hitler invaded, and subsequently escaped from a Nazi POW camp.

Other than that, we’re fairly quiet people who try to stay as far away from history as possible.

A friends father was working at one of NASA’s remote island tracking stations during the Moon Landings. He used to joke that there was one road on the island, which was so small that before an American car could peel out and get up to speed, it would be in the ocean. He also told us that you could buy any gun you wanted there, but not take them off of the island so a shallow, clear lagoon was littered with hundreds of guns, discarded by Americans going home over the years.

Anyhow, he brought souvenirs home for us and mine were 3 crew patches from one of the lunar landings, used by the mission crew, identical to those worn by the astronauts. Back then, NASA was not selling any crew patches and they were impossible to get. I still have them.

I once owned a rifle, a 9 mm magnum, that I bought for 30 dollars from Woolworth’s, part of a big rifle sale of war surplus guns they got in. After cleaning out the cavoline preserving grease, I bough ammunition for it and fired it and discovered it kicked like a mule and made huge craters in the local ditch. It held 5 shots in the breach, was single fire, had a barrel over the actual barrel to protect one’s hands from the hot barrel, and a threaded cleaning rod shoved ramrod fashion under the breach. It was equipped to hold a bayonet.

In cleaning it, I found it’s maker was English and there were Arabic letters stamped into the block. A little research and I discovered it had been used in one of the wars between the Arabs and the English!! It or it’s type had also been used in WW1.

I no longer have it, for being stupid and selling it for $60 to a guy because it was too expensive to shoot. Back then, in the 70s, a box of bullets for it cost $20 with only 20 rounds. It’s probably worth a few hundred by now.

From the wear on the gun, I’d say it had actually been in heavy battles. It even had the adjustable, ladder sight on the breach.

Chimayo, New Mexico? The little church there was started by one of my great-great-etc. uncles. There is a little room on the side that has a hole with dirt in it. The dirt is supposedly holy. There is a related story on why, but I don’t remember it all. The amount of dirt in it never goes away, even though millions of people have taken jars of this stuff home with them. But then it is in New Mexico, land of a thousand dirt holes. It might just fill itself in. My, I do sound cynical.

I am sure my family has done something way more interesting than this…

My family owned some bakeries in Baltimore that supplied bread to General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the War Between the States. (I still own one of the bread boxes that was used to transport the stuff via train.)

On a side note: if we were smart, we’d have sold to the Yankees as well!

I fell asleep on Mrs. Nixon.

It was in all the papers.

I’m serious.

And my father was the editor of the only divisional newspaper published from the front lines during World War II.

My mom was a nurse at Texas Children’s Hospital and took care of David, the “bubble boy.” She gave him his first haircut.
My mom’s cousin went to the University of Texas in the sixties. She was on campus when a man grabbed her and yanked her into a doorway. She freaked, but he said he wasn’t trying to hurt her, there was someone shooting. It was Charles Whitman, firing from the Tower.

As a young girl, my fiancee’s mother used to be constantly hit on by the mass murderer Charlie Starkweather. Luckily for her, she had better taste than Caril Fugate seemed to.

I was on the last American merchant ship,the SS Hong Kong Mail, to leave Saigon a couple weeks before the North Vietamese entered the city. Our skipper said we could take refugees with us to Manila but a few hours before we sailed the security forces came aboard and searched the ship and kicked all non-crew off. I could never understand why they did that.

My grandfather was a physicist who was in the Air Force in 1941 when he was asked whether he wanted to join a top-secret project. Unfortunately, he was stricken by pneumonia shortly afterwards and never had the opportunity to learn further information. He still thinks that it was The Manhattan Project.

My other grandfather was in the German Army during WWII. In July of 1944 he deserted his unit and went home. He was the only member of that unit to survive.

There was a fence between our backyard and a baseball field. Micky Mantle leaned on the fence once (from the other side).

A family friend says that George W. Bush tried to hit on her while she was in college.

My dad was stationed in Quebec during the October Crisis of 1970. He tells all sorts of scary stories about that…

My grandfather drew maps for the bombing of Hiroshima. He also was the officer that lead the troops liberating Korea at the end of WWII.

His brother was supposedly in the first flight to break the speed barrier. It was before Chuck Yeager’s, but wasn’t as famous since it didn’t go faster than sound continously, it went up, broke the speed barrier, and then dropped immediately.

My father’s second cousin was the Israeli hero who was largely responsible for driving the British out of Mandatory Palestine. He led the Akko prison break, blew up the King David Hotel, liberated Jaffa, etc.

My great-grandmother told the story that she was related to Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father. I have not been able to confirm this in my genealogical research.

Another unconfirmed family story is that we are related to Helen Suzman, the South African anti-apartheid MP.

My father was friends with Julius Erving (Dr. J) in college. They used to play ball together. Bill Cosby also went to the same school, but they weren’t friends.

My uncle is the president of a minor league baseball team.

A distant relative shot President Lincoln.

This is a great idea for a thread, and very interesting so far.

My father has been travelling to troublespots in the world for a while but his mist intimate brush with history has to be during the coup attempt in the Philippines, shortly after People Power #1.
He saw the rebels retreat into a large hotel and since he was there as a political scientist he decided the best thing for him to do would be to run after the rebels and barricade himself in with them. I’m still kind of pissed at him for that move, as was his entire family at the time.

A hostage situation ensued, with tanks and artillery surrounding the building and continuous calls for surrender. It all ended with the surrender of the rebels who were to sign the relavant papers on live TV. Only one problem, they needed a boom operator for the sound, because the news station could only risk bringing in a single cameraman.

Yup, my dad did his first and last boom operating job the day the revolution ended :smiley:
He later met the president and Cardinal Sin (I love that name :D)

— G. Raven

My grandfather performed the first electron microscopy at the University of Pittsburgh.

And I almost made the National Spelling Bee. :smiley:

Really? And who, pray tell, was that? I wonder.

History: over there.
Me and mine: over here. Very far away from that pesky History.

My maternal grandfather swears up and down that he (and thus I) is a distant relative of Jesse James. I don’t believe him, but that’s another thread.

My maternal grandmother had a great grandfather who was a medic for the Union during the Civil War. He was also a medic for the Confederacy off and on, depending on which side paid him more.

The Donner Party struck out for California from a spot about a mile and a half from my house.

I was working in the Piedmont Center office complex here in Atlanta when frustrated day trader Mark Barton shot up a securities firm in the building next door and one across the street. Building 7, where our office was located, and Building 8, where the shootings took place, are really one building on floors 5 through 7, and a bridge connects the lower levels at the second floor, where the All-Tech Investments office is located. Our first indication that something was going on was when one of the shooting victims (one who survived) came into our office bleeding from a gunshot wound to the arm. We locked down and soon found out that no one knew where the shooter was. We spent the next five hours wandering around the office trying to pick up what information we could from the radio and Internet feeds of CNN and the local TV stations. It was really weird being smack in the middle of national news story and knowing as little about what was really happening as someone half a world away. The difficult part was that the restrooms were in the common hallway area, which couldn’t be secured – you had to risk your life to take a leak.

Our office was the last one in the complex to be evacuated. At about 7:50, almost exactly as Barton, cornered by police at a convenience store 20 miles or so away, shot himself, the SWAT team finally secured our floor and began escorting us down the elevators.

It wasn’t until later that I realized how close I’d really been to being more directly involved. At about 2:45, I’d escorted an acquaintance downstairs and walked part of the way to his car with him. Less than 10 minutes before Barton crossed the street and entered the All-Tech Investments office and started shooting, I was standing less than 100 feet from that office. If we’d chatted just a couple of minutes more, I might well have been standing there when the bullets started flying.