Longtime Gypsy Journal and blog readers probably already know that I am fascinated by those small world encounters that we have or hear about all the time.
You know what I mean, those chance conversations with a new friend in a campground, where you suddenly realize that you both worked at the same company 20 years and 3,000 miles ago. Or discovering that the longtime acquaintance you have always nodded to at RV rallies when you cross paths is your second cousin’s brother-in-law. Or pulling into an RV park and finding that the folks in the next site are people you shared a volunteer project with last summer. I call it small world syndrome, and we have had it happen to us more times than I can count.
Among my past publishing endeavors, years ago I put out a racing newspaper. I was standing in the press box of a small town dirt track once and got to talking to a gentleman who was visiting from out of state, looking for a race track to buy, which would be the fulfillment of his longtime dream. He said that now that he was retired from being a school administrator, he finally could get his racetrack. Can you imagine the surprise we both got when we talked a bit more, and discovered that he had been the incoming principal of my high school back in Toledo, Ohio the year I graduated early to join the Army?
Just last summer, Terry and I were helping our buddy Al Hesselbart by playing tour guides to a group from the Heartland Owners Club at the RV Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. One custom built RV on display at the museum has emblems from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York incorporated into the design.
One of the men taking the tour pointed the emblems out to his wife and said that they reminded him of his old days in the Army. I spent a couple of my Army years teaching firearms and close combat at West Point, and after hearing his comment, we got to talking. It turns out that he left the Academy a few years before I arrived, and I had taken over his old job!
It has happened to us more times than I can count. We have pulled up to an intersection and looked over and seen friends sitting in their RV across the street; been filling our motorhome’s fuel tank and had other RVing friends pull in to the fuel island next to us; and stopped in roadside rest areas for a stretch and potty break, and met up with fulltimers we have crossed paths with all over the country. None of these unplanned meetings were expected, they just happened.
We had another small world encounter yesterday. We drove 100 miles north to Cordes Junction, Arizona to meet Bill Smith, head pressman for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper in Flagstaff. Because there is so much snow on the ground up north, and we don’t have snow tires on our van, Bill had volunteered to drive 100 miles south to meet us halfway and deliver the new issue of the Gypsy Journal to us.
I have known Bill close to 20 years, ever since my newspaper days here in Arizona, and Terry has known him over ten years. Yesterday we were telling Bill about our travels, and he asked if we ever got up to Maine. We told him we had, and about visiting Saint Johns, the old grade school Terry had attended in Bangor.
Bill said he had grown up in Bangor, and then shocked us by telling us that he had gone to the same school! Of course, Bill is so old he has moss growing on his back, and Terry is only a few years out of puberty, so they weren’t there at the same time, but it was still fun listening to them reminisce.
Bill asked Terry what part of Bangor she had grown up in, and she told him that her father was stationed at Dow Air Force Base there, and they had lived in post housing. Bill blew us away again, when he said that when he joined the Air Force, he had been stationed right there in his hometown, at Dow!
I know our experiences are not unique. How many small world encounters have you had?
Thought For The Day – Many of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us. Sing your songs now.