This may not interest all of you, but here goes anyway:
This past Saturday my wife and I attended the Santa Rosalia festival in Monterey, CA. It's a festival celebrating the patron saint of the fishermen there, mostly Italians.
While there listening to live Italian music I started to chat with a fellow I guessed to be in his late 70's, 80 tops and in really good shape at that. He started telling me of his youth, World War II experiences, and his immigration to the USA in 1949. Of particular interest to me were his experiences as an Italian military paratrooper in North Africa. While serving there he was captured by British troops led by Montgomery in 1942 and spent the rest of the war as a POW.
Once I understood what he was saying (his English was good but accented), I asked how it was possible. Surely he wasn't old enough to have had such an experience. Turns out he's 95 years old! After telling me that, he told his wife, "Come on. We gotta go." Then he looked at me and said, "We're playing in the Bocce Ball tournament in 5 minutes." We smiled at each other, shook hands and off they went.
I only spent about 45 minutes talking with this fellow, but I was deeply impressed. He was firm in body and mind, clearly understood the world far better than most, and had survived hardships that would kill most of us. I was very fortunate to encounter him and have an opportunity to talk with him, even if only briefly.
Probably about 20 years ago I had a similar experience at a comedy club when I started talking to an older couple at a table next to us. He was a German soldier captured in Africa and shipped to Texas where he sat out the remainder of the war as a laborer from a prisoner of war camp. He was with his American wife whom he met in Texas while he was working as a farm worker on her families farm. He told me at the end of the war he was released but couldn't get back to marry his sweetheart till 1947. Knowing the war ended in 1945 I asked why it took 2 years to get back to Texas which he had told me he had fallen in love with the state as well as his sweetheart. His answer shocked me. Turns out he wasn't released to go home to Germany, he was shipped to England and spent 2 years cleaning up bomb damage before he earned his freedom and was allowed to go where he pleased. They don't teach that one in the history books I've read. Even after all that he returned here, married his Texas girl and raised a large family and built a successful business in his new adopted home.
My neighbor across the street was a marine pilot in the pacific. He passed last year at 98, we are losing them fast gentlemen talk to them often and learn as much as you can. You would be surprised what is not in the history books
G.R., pretty much nothing very correct is in the history books. Only what they wanted us to know!
In our travels we are honored to meet the most incredible people over the years.
My wife and I are dyed in the wool Seattle Seahawk season ticket holders and have been for many years. Our tickets are in the club level and have doors from the club leading out to our seats.
We have the nicest and most unassuming door usher. We have enjoyed him for many years. Last year I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with him.
As a very young air force officer back in the '50's he was singled out and asked to take on a special assignment.
From that point on he became the very first helicopter pilot for a President of the United States and his passenger was Dwight D Eisenhower.
He went on to tell me how nervous he was the first time he flew over Washington DC and landed at the White House.