Celestial Contact

Today’s post comes from Anna.

I have touched the moon.

No really. I touched the moon. Well, part of the moon. Okay, fine, a rock from the moon. A little piece of rock from the moon. For the record, it was very smooth and shiny, not at all like I expected a piece of the moon to be.

My lunar adventure began with a trip to Houston for work. The co-worker I traveled with is a huge NASA fan and has been to a couple other NASA sites. I will not pretend that a trip to Johnson Space Center was not part of the motivation to fly in early to our conference. With a little work from our hotel’s concierge, we were set up with a rental car for the day and off we went, into Houston traffic, after being warned by the clerk at the rental car agency that something like 1 in 4 drivers in Texas does not have a license. Did I mention that Houston traffic is crazy and there were traffic jams by my hotel well into the evening? Yeah. This wasn’t like driving to Duluth.

In the never-never land between Houston and Johnson Space Center (and Not-Quite-Galveston) there isn’t much. Several purveyors of boots. Various and sundry “adult” businesses. More boots. The previously mentioned crazy traffic. Another place to buy boots.

spacesuit

And then, the Space Center. We got there too late in the afternoon to take the tram out to see the building that houses “mission control,” but we did get to climb into the cockpit of a shuttle (decommissioned, sliced off, and all the fun buttons behind plexiglass…so no button pushing for me, dang it). shuttleinteriorA piece of the control console from the Apollo era is also on display with an explanation of the work necessary to change a single button to do task B instead of task A (makes you appreciate how much computing power you likely have in your pocket or purse…computing power you use to play games and check blogs, perhaps more power than was used to get us to and from the moon). There was a progression of space suits and re-creations of the International Space Station – all sorts of good stuff to make a space nerd happy.

And then, yes, tucked back in a corner of the visitor center is the tiny bit of the moon that you can touch, shiny from all the fingers that have grazed it. touchingthemoonI met the man who brought that piece of the moon and he was about as unassuming as the rock he brought back. Harrison Schmitt – the only professional scientist to have gone to the moon and one of the last to stand on its surface (he was on the last Apollo mission). He was in the Twin Cities a couple years ago for an event and apparently didn’t have the patience to wait for his official autograph time at a table, so wandered the floor of the event chatting with folks. I am sure his politics and mine are not at all similar, but he brought back a part of the moon. And I have touched it. And that is a pretty cool thing.

When have you had a brush with the stars?

109 thoughts on “Celestial Contact”

  1. I am not sure about my brush with fame. I had paul newman walk ito the bar at the holiday in in brainerd yers ago. He was on the other side of the bar and I was looking too hard at him trying to decide If it was really him. He was too freckle faced and not paul newmanny enough but he must have been used to it because he looked up gave me the twinkle eyed wink he is noted for and sipped his beverage. I didn’t bug him he obviously came in to relax I concluded. In hindsight he may have coem down to interact and I failed him. You never know about folks. I went to the nasa thin in florida for a middle of the night space launch years ago and the next day they had two or the apallo 13 (tom hanks movie) astronauts signing the books on the day their stamp came out commerating the big day. There were 100 or so of us there to celebrate them. It was col , none of my family remembers it. 2 am launch 4 am sleeping in the van in the parking lot 7 am waling around in space shuttles and looking at museum stuff. Noon astronauts 7 pm back to mickey mouse and stuff they cared about.
    Met lots of famous people at concerts and book signings. I remember the traffic concert I went to with my friend who wanted to meet them. We were waiting for a ride home outside the minneapolis conventon center ( pre driving days… geeze I was 15) and out came traffic to crawl int their limo. I asked my friend if she wanted to go get theor autograph and she hesitantly said sure so across the street we went with a program form the show in hand. We got there before the door on the limo closed partly because the boys were a bit incapacitated. They had a good buzz going and giggled as the signed and handed the program to the next member of the band. We got the program back and stevie windwoods signature was recognizable. The others were like an idiot scrawl in a windstorm. We went bck across the street to wait for my mom and that was my moment with that rock star. It was cool to catch people you looked up to being as normal as the folks you hung with every day. Squirrely little boys who got to paly guitar dfor a living. Enlightening.
    Yo yo ma. Louden wainwright, anne lamott, garrison, president carter (nice eyes), al franken, miles davis, herbie hancock, they all handle interaction in their own way and I guess come to think of it , so do I. you do create an impression and the first impression is often all you get or all you get to give.
    I will file that one away to take wit me today. Thanks anna.

    there is a leave a comment button way up top to the right on the top line of the daily blog below the title to the right of the date.
    took a while to find it but there it is. i think jim pointed it out last time this happened

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My brushes with fame are linked to both politics and books. When I was younger my dad was very active in Democratic politics in Missouri; because of this I’ve met Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Thomas Eagleton – just your basic intros – no conversation.

    When I was in the bookstore, I managed B Dalton #1, the big flagship store that used to be at Southdale. So I’ve met quite a few stars/authors: Leo Buscaglia, Garrison Keillor, Brook Shields, Gary Larson, Roselyn Carter, Max Weinberg (E Street Band), Robert Schuler.

    Some of these folks were really remarkable, some seemed like normal folks in extraordinary circumstances. I will say that seeing up close the kinds of security that being a big star/famous person entails, I prefer my non-celebrity status!

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    1. Carribean someplace but brain is failing me. PJ will know.

      I know there is a Danish island because there was a family at church who had ancestry there (not that many Carribean Lutherans).

      Virgin Islands?

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  3. One thing I`ve notices about celebrities is they are first noticed by the mega watt smile they always seem to wear just in case someone snaps a quick pick. Once this woman walked in to a restaurant where I was seated close to a bar and I noticed her because she had on a crazy grin and was making eye contact with the patrons. Mariah Carey. Have seen it on Julia Roberts as well- who is somehow much prettier in person. Some of the male stars must stand on boxes for filming…

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    1. Good comment, Emily. I once was startled when I ran into a spectacularly handsome, smiling guy in the cafeteria line of my college. For a second I was too stunned to recognize him, but I knew I was looking at a celebrity. It was Gene McCarthy.

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  4. Actually, my family has had so many contacts with famous people that it was a problem for me when I wrote a book about my family. There were too many such contacts, and at some point they were distracting, so I threw many of them out of the final draft. I guess the world used to be a smaller place, so it was once easier to have close brushes with celebrities.

    Examples: my grandma saw John Dillinger enter the theater the night he was gunned down; my dad talked to FDR and rode with “Dutch” Reagan in a reserve cavalry unit; I hunted snakes with Nick Nolte and was a casual friend of actor/PBS narrator Peter Coyote. There are many more.

    The most significant personal brush I’ve had with famous folks was an incident that now makes me uncomfortable. I once outraged Harry Truman so badly that he exploded in an incoherent hissy fit. I wasn’t trying to be a smartass, but that’s how Truman chose to see me. Oh well, he’s probably forgotten all about that now.

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      1. Someone who once read my family memoir called it exactly that, Lisa. She said I had a “Forrest Gump” problem, with too many mentions of famous people. That’s when I edited out some of them, which is hard for a storyteller to do. For example, my dad once saw Ronald Reagan too drunk to get up on his horse. If you read about Reagan all you hear is that he didn’t drink. But my dad was not a liar, ever. My guess now is that Reagan got messed up with alcohol when he was quite young and simply decided that was not for him. He was about 24 when my dad knew him.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. i remember the story
          give us a gump version grooms remembrance. that would work. its not good for the rest of the world but here on the trail we can suck it up.

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        2. Truman visited my college one day, showing up in my Constitutional History class. We were asked if we had any questions for him. I stood and asked why he dropped the second bomb, the one on Nagasaki. Some people have wondered why that was deemed necessary when the US could have dropped the second bomb on an uninhabited atoll (after the first bomb demonstrated the lethal power of atomic bombs).

          Truman exploded and began shouting defensive comments before the class bell rang and everything stopped. He heard my question as an impudent challenge to his basic decision to use atomic bombs against Japan. I didn’t mean to ask that question or to be disrespectful.

          Now that I know more about history, I understand Truman’s response. I think my question was naive, even if I meant no disrespect. I wish I could apologize for the insult, even if it was unintentional. That’s what Dale seemed to dislike. He has better judgment than I about such things.

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  5. I once received a deed to a star for Christmas. It didn’t have a name, it had a number. I suppose I still own it, but I’ve never been able to pick it out midst the stars in the sky.

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  6. Oh, those other kinds of stars…hmmm, Rock Hudson, Jessica Lange, um — Garrison, Dale & Jim Ed (probably don’t count since I worked with them for the same company). My favorite stars: poets (friends of) Robert Bly and Louis Jenkins; met up close and personal Galway Kinnell, Seamus Heaney, and Bill Holm. I was taken aback at MPR when NYTimes columnist Thomas Freedman walked out of the studio after an hour with Gary Eichten. Blurted out “You’re Thomas Freedman!” He was also taken aback, but perhaps a little pleased at being recognized?

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    1. I can imagine running into Jessica Lange as she’s quite frequently in the area, but what were the circumstances of seeing Rock Hudson?

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  7. Good morning. I ran into Lynne Rosetto Kasper when attending an annual gathering at the Seed savers Exchange headquarters. She was one of the speakers at that meeting and she was wandering around looking at some seed collections by herself. I knew who she was from listening to her public radio food show.

    I found out that the radio personality voice she uses when broadcasting is her natural way of speaking. After meeting her and hearing her talk at the gathering, I purchased the cook book that tells about the time she spent learning traditional cooking in Italy. That book has become one of my favorites as a source of information on Italian cooking and on cooking in general.

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  8. OT: Sorry I missed the recipe discussion on Saturday…but I was sorting recipes (lol). I had a huge pile of pages I’d torn out of magazines, sitting around gathering allergens, and decided it was high time I went through them and put them in a ring binder where I could actually see them. I ended up throwing away more than half of them because they were old (like from the early 90s, when I first went vegetarian), and veg*n cooking has progressed leaps and bounds since then. Remember the days when TVP was the only meat substitute, every recipe required a dose of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, tahini was a prized exotic ingredient to be deployed at random, nothing had more than one clove of garlic in it, and a handful of parsley was considered sufficient flavoring for a kettle of soup? Unfortunately, I do…

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    1. I do and I still kinda like some if those things (I don’t always Bragg’s my TVP, just throw it in the chili pot).

      S&h will request walnut cheddar loaf from Diet for a Small Planet.

      Not crazy about lots of the faux meat stuff, except sausages chopped into a bean something, mostly for flavor/texture. Quorn fascinates me but is also a little strange.

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  9. And back on topic: thanks to my long association with science fiction fandom, I’ve met quite a few well-known writers. Probably the biggest name I’ve met and exchanged a few words with was Ursula LeGuin. There was also the time when a friend of a friend had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the past she’d been close to Samuel Delaney, but they’d fallen out of touch some years before. He was in town for a book tour, and because my friend couldn’t go to his reading, I was delegated to tell him about the mutual friend’s condition and give him contact information. I believe he did get in touch with her before she died, so that was the good part about being the bearer of bad news.

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    1. Oh, I forgot, years ago I embarrassed Neil Gaiman on a panel at a con. Maybe I told this story before, but it’s been a while:

      The panel was on censorship in comics, and he’d just joked about how hilarious it was that the Comics Defense Fund and all those sweet little librarians from the ALA with their hair in buns, were working on the issue together. This was in my cute, slender, high-goth days. I was standing against a pillar in plain view, wearing skull-buckle boots, leggings, a corset top (might have been my red spider brocade one, I loved that thing), tattoos, and a silver bird-skull-and-claws necklace. Naturally, I couldn’t NOT raise my hand and say, “Excuse me, but I’m a librarian.” The entire room cracked up, and he turned a most interesting shade of red. For a couple of years after that, whenever I saw him at an event he got a vaguely worried look on his face, like he should remember who I was but couldn’t dredge up the reason why. So that’s my real claim to fame.

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      1. In one of the early years of the July convention (which I shall leave unnamed) Mr. Gaiman was one of the guests of honor and my pals and I planned the programming. He was kind enough to sit on a panel with us to talk through a Joseph Campbellian deconstruction of “Neverwhere” (I think he agreed, at least in part, because we had a couple solid “friend of a friend” connections). He was delightful. Partway through he paused and looked up and down the table and said something along the lines of, “this is a parlor game for you lot, isn’t it? I just wrote it…” Not sure he really knew what he was getting himself into ahead of time, but it seemed like he had a good time. 🙂

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  10. Lots and lots in my opera/theatre career. I know what a fair number of them look like in their underwear and they may have never known my name.

    Odd business to be in.

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    1. PJs post just reminded me of the political stars I was in the same room with when living in DC.

      Went to Christmas Eve service with the Clintons one year while he was POTUS and worked the Opera Ball once when the Notorious RBG was in attendance.

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  11. Once when I was shopping in a gift store near home I recognized a famous person in the shop. Sarah Jane Olson had been an “urban guerrila” with links to the Patty Hearst kidnappers. I decided the only gift I could offer her would be to respect her anonymity by not showing her I knew who she was. Which is the gift tim offered Paul Newman.

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  12. As Steve galantly pointed out to me years ago when we were first getting to know each other, most of the “stars” that I have met will give you the idea that I’m no spring chicken. In fact, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, Pat Boone and Garrison Keillor, they are all dead now. That gives me pause. Of course, the longer I live, the more dead people I know.

    I’ve already told you about my encounter with Barry Watson the Jamaican painter I met in Basel. He wasn’t famous then, but that shouldn’t disqualify him, should it?

    During my time in Moscow I had the opportunity to spend time with “stars” more established in the firmament. It was these “stars” that Steve was alluding to when he made the above comment. But to my mind, having rubbed elbows with Marlene Dietrich at a stag party where she and I were the only two women present is an evening I’ll never forget. Nor will I forget having breakfast and lunch with John Steinbeck, or a talk about poetry with Yevgeny Yevtushenko at a cocktail party. I was introduced to Barry Goldwater at an embassy party. He seemed cordial, but I really didn’t know anything about him. A little over a year later upon arriving in the US, this became my point of reference:

    The list of musicians I have picked up at the airport, squired around town, had a drink or two with and/or hosted at our home or arranged concerts for, is long. Some of the ones you might know are – in no particular order: Dave Van Ronk, Eric Bogle, Rosalie Sorrels, Mike Seeger, Harry Manx, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Andy Stewart, Paddy Keenan, Pete Morton, Martin Simpson, Ray Bonneville, David Francey, and Connie Kaldor.

    Once when Rosalie Sorrels was staying at our house, she wanted to go to a reading by Terry Tempest Williams at the Hungry Mind. They knew each other somehow. After the reading we were invited to Terry’s hotel suite at the Whitney hotel for refreshments and a long talk.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I obviously misspoke about how many of the stars I have met who are now dead. Several of the musicians and Terry Tempest Williams are still very much alive.

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        1. Not rude, but you did manage to convey that you were not impressed. Here’s your verbatim comment to my revelation that I had met Dietrich, Steinbeck and Yevtushenko: “Relatively few Americans remember Marlene Dietrich, but it is important to note that her name had long-lasting luster in Europe in a way it did not here.” Not a word about either of the other two.

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        2. Interesting observation, but I have no idea what you’re referring to, Renee, when you say there’s lots of room for misunderstanding. It seems pretty straight forward to me. What am I missing?

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      1. It’s an interesting phenomenon, Lisa. One thing leads to another. By putting myself in the ex-pat community in Moscow, which at the time was behind the ominous Iron Curtain, I automatically became part of a select group of people I would otherwise never have associated with. The same dynamic was in place in Greenland. Any celebrity visitor (including the two princes) automatically became accessible.

        In truth, I’m not very good at recognizing “famous” people, and I’m reasonably certain that I’ve actually met more than I was aware of. If I were to meet any number of today’s stars – regardless of their genre or the occasion – chances are I wouldn’t have a clue who they are.

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      1. Not really much to tell, BiR. Steinbeck was a house guest of the American family I was a nanny for. I had read several of his books (Cannery Row, Tortilla Flats, and East of Eden) and was pretty awestruck to be under the same roof and at the same table with him. I do remember telling him which of his books I had read (in Danish translation), and he encouraged me to try them in English, and suggested that I might also like Grapes of Wrath. He asked me if I was familiar with Faulkner, and I had to admit I was not, something I have since remedied.

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      1. In the early 1990s I volunteered at the Cedar Cultural Center. That involvement grew, and I later became interim executive director. Back then The Cedar was in dire financial straits, and simply didn’t have the financial resources to accommodate the performers. Volunteers picked them up at the airport, drove them to their cheap motels or private accommodations (supplied, free of charge, by volunteers), and accompanied them to any radio interviews that had been set up for them. (That’s how I first met Dale.)

        After I left the Cedar, some performers who The Cedar would no longer book contacted me. Some had previously stayed at my house, and wondered if I could perhaps arrange a gig or two for them. I really had no experience doing this, and was reluctant to do it, but did my best. Some gigs were wonderful successes, some spectacular failures. Doing this work taught me a lot.

        Ultimately what it boils down to is this: I love folk music and adore people who dedicate themselves to this perilous pursuit. Even the few who are successful – by folk music standards – are teetering on the brink of failure all the time. Right now, it’s mind numbing to know the number of renowned, hard-working musicians I know who are struggling because of medical issues for which they didn’t have insurance. That’s one reason why I support folk music as enthusiastically as I can.

        This may well be way more info than you want, but there you have it.

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  13. Back in 1974 I worked for a CPA firm in the 1st National Bank Building in St. Paul. At that time the case against AIM activists Dennis Banks and Russel Means was taking place in the Federal Court House just down the street. I saw William Kunstler and Harry Bellafonte standing in line and eating lunch at the ground floor cafeteria just like the rest of us.

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    1. PJ, did you ever buy magazines, newspapers or greeting cards at 1st Things, on the skyway level of the1st National Bank Building? My dad owned it, (moved up from a tiny card shop and a hole in the wall magazine stand on the first floor) and when he died in 1972, my husband and I took it over and ran it (eventually into the ground) for about ten years. I well remember selling William Kunstler a Wall Street Journal and a New York Times every morning during the trial. I missed Harry B. though. That would have been fun.

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        1. I’ll bet I waited on you. We were in the shop Minday through Friday, 7 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. We were across the hall from 1st Barbers and next door to 1st Daisy. Quite the original naming scheme, don’t you think?

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  14. I actually, in a manner of speaking, had the opportunity to direct Peter Lawford. It was for a commercial for Northwest Airlines and I was the art director. In addition to the commercial, we were doing still shots to use in an accompanying set of print ads. Peter Lawford was the celebrity we were using because he was the most recognizable star within our budget. Unfortunately the commercial never ran. Donald Nyrop, the then president of the airlines, was so archly conservative that when he saw the commercial, he was afraid that it would be construed as endorsing the Democrats via Lawford’s marriage to a Kennedy. So he killed the ad. But my contact with Peter Lawford gives me only one degree of separation from the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe and the Rat Pack. In the same vein, I once worked with a man who had worked with Buster Keaton when Keaton was doing commercials for Northwest Orient Airlines. So one degree of separation from Buster Keaton.

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        1. Well, by knowing you, now all baboons knows someone who … pick whatever connection you’d like to flaunt. Not sure of the mathematics involved, but does that make it two degrees of separation?

          During one of his annual do-nothing trips with a couple of friends, husband and his friends were visiting the Iron Range. One of the guys thought he knew where Rudy Perpich’s cabin was, and they drove around the area for a while to try to find it. They returned reporting that they almost saw it.

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  15. Peter Falk (Columbo) was in community theater in the Hartford area before he went big time. My father was in the same theater company so he ended up in my living room once. I was 5 or 6.
    I worked for KSTP in the accounting dept for about a year. I was once in Stanley Hubbard’s office when HHH dropped by.
    A degree of separation: my sister was an extra in When Harry Met Sally, though I don’t know if she met any of the stars. She also worked brieftly for Martha Stewart but was fired for overwatering plants that she had never watered.

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  16. Afternoon–
    That sounds like a great trip Anna.
    I remember going to DisneyWorld and then the NASA complex the next day; I had a real problem that the mannequins at NASA weren’t as realistic as the Disney stuff.

    My favorite ‘brush with fame’ story comes from the days I was a stagehand so I was often standing backstage when the performer walked by.
    So this one time, backstage, I stood next to the guy that John Denver patted on the back. Haha– That’s my favorite.

    I pushed Kelly Rogers to the stage in a box when he was doing his shows ‘In the Round’.
    Opened a door for Wayne Newton and his entourage.
    Talked with Dana Carvey before a show.
    And talked with Dale Connelly too.
    When Peter Paul and Mary were there we all had to move down to the end of the hall and not look at them. This was way before the days of cell phones and pictures everywhere.

    Saw Fred Foster (CEO of ETC Lighting) in the airport.
    Talked with lots of famous theater people: Richard Pillbrow, Loren Schrieber, Bill Sapsis; famous in the theater community.

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    1. My brother, (Producer / Director in AV at The Mayo Clinic) pinned the microphone on the Dali Lama a few years ago. (There was a woman actually working that event, but since women can’t touch him, my brother got to do it.)

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      1. No, that was when we were in Scotland twenty five years ago. It was our second day in the country and we were in Inverary, seat of the Argyllshire Campbell’s. We had gone to Inverary Castle to look around. It was early in the year, just before Easter, and the castle wasn’t yet open to tourists, so we were just exploring the grounds. A Range Rover drove up and a tweedy fellow got out. He looked kind of like what you would expect the gamekeeper to look like. In a dismissive sort of way, he asked us to move our car elsewhere so that he could launch his hot air balloon. His affect was such that we remarked to each other, “Who does he think he is, the Duke of Argyll?” Later, looking through a picture book, we discovered that that’s exactly who he was.

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  17. When I was working in Greenland, Prince Knud (brother to the then reigning king of Denmark, Frederik the 9th), and his son, Prince Ingolf, came to the base to see the base dentist and do a little salmon fishing. Prince Knud was pretty much known throughout Denmark as a bit of a social misfit with prominent buck teeth and not very smart.

    One of my coworkers in the kitchen of the airport hotel was marrying an American GI from the base; they invited both princes to their wedding, and they both showed up for the ceremony. I have a picture, taken in the church of Prince Ingolf sitting in the pew right behind me.

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  18. When I was very young (maybe 3 or 4) my parents took me to see Burl Ives at the St. Paul Hotel. My dad used to play the guitar and sing to me, and The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night was a particular favorite of mine. Burl sang it to me by request that night.

    There are some others, but they aren’t coming to mind. Most of my brushes with stars are a degree (or two) of separation removed.

    My cousin’s wife worked at Benson Optical in Edina and sold more than one pair of granny glasses to Henry Deutschendorf before he and Annie moved to that other state.

    My sil worked in the gift shop at Hazelden and met lots of celebrities, but if she told me who, she’d have to kill me.

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    1. A friend of mine was a high mucky muck at Hazeldon. He even appeared on Oprah once on behalf of the institution. So like you, Caroline, I am one degree separated, through him, from countless inutterable celebrities.

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  19. People in the media have many contacts with celebrities who hope to influence publicity about their causes. When I edited a magazine Rudy Perpich invited me to lunch at the Governor’s Mansion (the one Jesse Ventura hated so much). Perpich seemed like a well-intentioned guy whose grasp of environmental issues was embarrassingly bad.

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    1. Perpich and his wife toured the place I worked. His wife seemed the sharper of the two. Perpich had a deer in the headlights quality.

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  20. My mom once pumped gas for a vanload of pro wrestlers, Vern Gagne and those guys, sworn enemies who acted like they would tear each other to pieces. All riding together from Thunder Bay to the Twin Cities.

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    1. My brother sold programs for All Star Wrestling for a few years on and off – easy way to make money in an evening. I think he got a cut of every program sold (a good friend’s dad was one of the promoters as I recall). He met Andre the Giant back when he was wrestling – said he was like a huge, gentle mountain who called everyone “boss.”

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  21. Like most of us, I have met a few authors, been in the same room as a few notables, and have had brushes with minor politicians (Steve, you had dinner with a governor – I only managed the back lawn for a performance during the Quie administration for a group of school kids and Mrs. Quie). The one meeting that had me tongue tied and falling over myself in a girl geek way was meeting Miss Manners. She was, of course, gracious – but gosh I just couldn’t manage to smoothly say, “your my hero….” And she has the same dry wit in person that she has in her column. Now she is someone with stories to tell, I’m sure.

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