It’s easy when working on a personal history project to get caught up with the seriousness of it. After all, we’re putting together something that will carry our legacy forward several generations. That’s important stuff.
But, don’t forget the small stuff, too. Especially those tiny moments that briefly take us in an unexpected direction, those detours from our life’s highway that propel us down an unfamiliar, yet memorable, path.
I’m thinking today of brushes with celebrity. Have you ever met anybody famous?
In my work as a journalist, I came in contact with many well-known people through my work.
As sports editor of The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, sometimes they even came to me. Joe Dusek, a local wrestling legend who became a friend in his days as a sports promoter, once brought Olympic wrestler Chris Taylor in for an interview as he embarked on a pro mat career. Taylor was what you might call a super-heavyweight and we had a tough time finding a chair for him to sit on. Sadly, he died not long after his visit.
I had the opportunity to meet and write about baseball home run king Hank Aaron and Alabama football coaching legend Bear Bryant during my Council Bluffs stay and had the unique distinction of sharing the restroom in the University of Nebraska football press box with Stan Musial and Red Skelton. While working at the Des Moines Register, I interviewed tennis great Ivan Lendl and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller just by virtue of answering the phone when no one else was around.
There are others: Indy car driver Scott Sharp, pro bowlers Buzz Fazio and Loa Boxberger (a long story), rockabilly singers Buddy Knox and Carl Perkins, Dion DiMucci, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Vee.
But one of my favorites had nothing to do with my writing career. On a family vacation, in my haste to get a table in the dining room at Custer State Lodge in South Dakota, I pushed aside and nearly knocked down former Sen. George McGovern. I didn’t even recognize him at the time and only did so after my wife pointed him out to me. Fortunately, this was not when he was a presidential candidate so he was without the Secret Service escort that would have undoubtedly led to my detention.
None of these encounters played a significant role in my life, but each story adds an interesting thread to the tapestry of my life. Don’t forget to add your brushes with celebrity to your work.