Aug 12, 2008

Anybody got anything on famous people sightings?

I like your idea of "close encounters of the famous kind". That would make an interesting topic of discussion. I'm sure some in this group could spin an interesting tale of contact with famous (or newsworthy) people.


To start the ball rolling, excluding my Hoppy (Hopalong Cassidy) encounter (BTW, I did not have my photo taken with Hoppy, I was only in the group that was photographed around him. If I recall correctly, you might be able to see the back of my head in the photo!)

I remember actually bumping into Mickey Rooney on St. Catherine's Street in Montreal in the early 1960s. And I rode in an elevator at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax with Mitch Miller (remember Sing along with Mitch?). He was easily recognized since minutes before I saw an interview with him on TV.

Then there was the chance meeting with Don Ho in Honolulu in 1970; and, of course who can forget the brief encounter with Alexandria, the Great (48) in Perth, Western Australia (need I explain any further what the 48 stands for?) The CBC recently broadcast a mini-series called "The Geologic Journey" and three of the five people who were the main players in that series were either workmates, university pals or drinking buddies from my years working in geology in Newfoundland. Not to mention Marshall Kay and J. Tuzo Wilson, also of geological fame.

I could go on, but I don't want to bore everyone to death! Let's see what response we get with that!

- Jim Butler, Class of 1959


Jim: I remember meeting at a distance, Princess Elizabeth, now the Queen, in Halifax, when our Brownie group took the train to Halifax in the late 1940's to meet her at the Halifax Forum. Even then I was in ah of her, in fact I remember feeling faint.  Probably 9 years old.

I was lucky to get a ticket to see Princess Dianna and Prince Charles at an Anglican Church in Halifax, through my brother iin law, Cal Pretty,  maybe 100 people were invited; and I had tickets for dinner with Prince Andrew (dinner was in Sydney) while living in Port Hawkesbury.  Now these dinners were with a few hundred people eh!

 I waived to Pres George Bush at the Halifax Airport when his car pulled up to AirForce 1.  Maybe 20 people in that area!  And he waived back, sure he did.

So as I jabber on here, maybe I did meet famous people, but not shake their hand. What is considered famous?

-          Audrey Mingo Grantham, Class of 1958


I can't think of meeting anyone famous really. Although we flew back from Carolyn's wedding in Calif. with Kirk Douglas on board our plane. Daughter Cheri went after him as he walked by (in the terminal)  and asked him, “Are you Kirk Douglas?”  He said 'Yes'. So that was confirmed. Of course it was one of those PanAm jumbo jets and we were in 'Steerage' (not with him of course)

Oh, I actually shook hands with one of the Everly Brothers (Don or Phil of ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ fame) after a concert when they were reunited in later years.. And, oh yes, I worked at CBC in Halifax (after living in Gander) with the Don Messer gang and was on speaking terms with Charlie and Marg Osborne. (Does that count for anything)? Vic Mullen, who also appeared in that show, grew up in the little fishing village of Port Maitland, NS where I was born. ‘Bout it.

-          Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959


That takes us back a few years, Faye. The Messer gang  are all gone now. But I sure would have liked meeting Don and Phil. Who do you know that harmonized as well as them? Maybe Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young? Anyway, you lucky person you.

-          Bob McKinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961.


And we heard that even some people are related to those more famous.


OK, here's the poop. My GG Grandmother Margaret Burke was a sister of Mary Jane Burke, the G Grandmother of Clarence Eugene (Hank) Snow (1914-1999). Do you suppose I get all my talent from him? I would like to have jammed with old cousin Hank but he moved to the U.S. and got famous.

-          Bob McKinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961.



I have a family tree, tracing me back, on my mother's side, to Ulysses Grant. A Republican too! Actually it is his brother that we are related to.  There are a lot of Grants on Mom’s side--will fish out that tree and let you know more.

- Audrey Mingo  Grantham, Class of 1958


Bruce is a second cousin to Stompin' Tom. Me, I guess I don't have anyone except maybe Joe Lewis, Just kiddin'. Oh my Lewis side can trace back to William the Conquerer (remember your history—1066)...Can't everybody?

-          Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959


Hey did anyone see that British de Havilland DH.100 Vampire fly over?.  Those came out at the end of the war but not used in it. That was the second jet-engined aircraft commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War (the first being the Gloster Meteor). The Vampire served with front-line RAF squadrons until 1955.

-          Bob Pelley, Class of 1962


(Sorry Bob I just needed to be reminded that we’re supposed to be talking about Gander stuff here, so thought if anyone is bored by all of this they might like that bit of information that I had left over from you for a previous column. Shame to let good facts like that go to waste – Faye.)


    I had only one experience of hob-knobing with the elite. You will remember that, in the 50`s, the international terminal in Gander was the hub for entertainment. We used to go down there from the base in the evenings with the hope of seeing someone of prominence.

One evening Bob Hope had a one hour stop in Gander on his way overseas to entertain the troops. Newfoundlanders, as you know, aren't the least intimidated by celebrities. It wasn't long before a group of the locals were gathered around. Bob just to chat with him. That evening Bob entertained us for about an hour with quips, jokes, and one liners - just feed him a line and he would come back with a funny answer. He was a very funny man and very approachable. It was a very memorable occasion.

    Dave Gilhen, RCAF Gander 1957


And then there are those toys we wish we’d kept. I asked Jim if he had any ‘Hoppy’ Souvenirs like this plate….



I don't have a copy, but would love one! My collection is currently a few movie posters downloaded form website. and about half of Hoppy's movies on DVD. I also have Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and, who can forget, The Lone Ranger! I do, however, have an autographed photo of Hank Snow hanging on my computer room wall! I keep looking for old western movie posters at flea markets, but apart from John Wayne, I can't find anything of interest.

-          Jim Butler, Class of 1959


I still wish I had my "Lets Pretend" fairy tale book.  My brother, or someone, threw it away when we moved to the new house on Cotton St.  I have never forgotten about that book and it reminds me to call that lady who looks for old books on the internet again.  Oh well, some people never grow up!  

Elizabeth Bursey Lyons, Class of 1960


I have a favorite thing, I got when I was about 6-7 years old. A sewing box, handmade from England, with my name painted on top. It was from 'Auntie Shackleton’ (yes her husband was related to that famous explorer). My dad was billeted with her on the Isle of Wight during WW2 with the Canadian Air Force. And 'Auntie Shack' always kept my mom in Canada informed of the goings-on in England at the time (much of what could not be written home in Dad's service mail). After the war, my mother still corresponded with her and she always sent us special gifts at Christmas time.

My brother also kept his copies of Rupert Bear books that she sent. When mom died, Auntie Shack continued to write to me up until she passed away at age 97. Anyway, I never was much good a sewing, but this little box inspired me to do it. It came complete with needles threads etc. The little handmade needle holder is still inside as are the memories that this special lady instilled through her words and kindness to us Canadian kids that she never got to meet.

- Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959


OK folks, anything you want to add to these topics or any others that you might suggest are most welcome by writing to  We’ll get them posted. Promise. FLR