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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Brushes With Greatness, Part One

I have come to the conclusion, over the years, that celebrities just like me. They must. After all, for someone who has never lived in either New York or LA, I've had an enormous number of meaningless encounters with people who are well known, either from show business or politics (if there's really any difference), over the course of my life.

The first one, I guess, was the then center for the then San Francisco Warriors, Nate Thurmond. The then owner of the then Warriors was then a parishoner at the Catholic Church that sponsored the school that I was attending. Then. As a result of this connection, Nate Thurmond, all 6'11" of him, sat at the dais in our school gym at the year-end sports banquet. I was there to be awarded certificates for having been ejected from both the 5th grade basketball and baseball teams for refraining from appearing at practices and games. (I was also bounced from being an altar boy for similar reasons. It was a banner year.)

I also that year, as part of the annual Christmas Seal drive, sold the aforementioned seals to the maid of then-Councilwoman Dianne Feinstein, who lived a few doors down the hill on Lyon Street. I know this may not completely count since I never met the lady herself, but I did meet her front door and her maid, which is more than most people can say. And just for the record, pretty nice digs.

Of course, a few members of The Jefferson Airplane moved in about half a block from us on Washington Street in 1969. I don't think I ever saw them, but I might have seen the moving van.

And remember when George Harrison led a procession of Hell's angels and assorted hangers-on around Golden Gate Park in the summer of 1967? Well, I was conveniently located only half-a-block away on 36th Avenue at the time. And I'm sure that, as George promenaded around Spreckel's Lake that day, that he was heard to inquire about that "that lad who lost his boat here." All right. Maybe not sure.

Moving to Rhode Island in 1970 really put a crimp in the activities of my celebrity stalkers, although I did come to know a fair number of local TV and radio folk over time. I did, also, once meet a true player on a national level, former U.S. Senator John O. Pastore, who stopped into a gas station I was working at to ask directions to Bishop Hendricken High School. He was very nice and I was somewhat less than helpful. He thanked me anyway.

I also knew a guy who was Meredith Viera's stalker back when she worked at Channel 10. He also stalked Caroline Kennedy. I fully intend to discuss this fellow with Meredith some day, God willing.


Anonymous said...

Let the name dropping begin. I won't tell you the stories, I'll only list the names of those famous people I've met.

Mayor Art
Captain Beefheart
George Seifert
Tony Gwynn
Robert Prosky
Dianne Feinstein (!)
Barbara Boxer
Herb Pedersen
Ice from American Gladiators
Ray Fosse

That's all I can think of. I was in a restauarnt in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago and seated across from us was a dead ringer for Walter Becker.

-Bernie "Super Fly" Fagan

Len said...


Great list. Seeing Ray Fosse's name actually reminded me of one that I forgot from my Pawtucket, RI adolescence. I got Cecil Cooper's autograph after a Pawtucket Red Sox (hereinafter "Pawsox") game the summer before the fall that he got called up to the bigs. Nice guy. Great hitter.

As far as I know, the autograph is somewhere in the middle of a landfill now. Just one of those things.

Anonymous said...

Once, during the mid-1970s in a men's room at a Lake Tahoe restaurant, I was minding my own business at my urinal when I sensed the presence of a man next to me who must have been 5' 16" tall. First I saw the split cowhide coat, then the silver hair, then the shiver of recognition: Peter Graves of Mission Impossible! I was cool and didn't do the song. I've also bowled on the lane next to Roy Rogers and overheard Dale swearing at the staff of their museum gift shop. I met Buzz Aldrin. And yummy Elizabeth Hurley. I got a mango for Carlos Santana. And a drunken car ride from Boz Scaggs. I've watched boxing with Beefheart. I've spoken on the phone with Fess Parker. All of this is true. Take me now lord, my life is full.

Haney Geron

Len said...


I think I once whizzed in a urinal that was next to the one being used by a celebrity, but I can't for the life of me remember who. Cap Anson? Marjoe Gortner? Jimmy the Greek?

Of course the modern, hip, comedy answer would have been Bea Arthur, but I have too much respect for that great lady to demean her in a such a way.