At times, we think ours has been an uneventful life, a life that’s included no significant, or historic events that we’ve been party to in our lives, but looking back, we may be able to discover that we have, in fact, been privy to much history somewhere along our way.
Looking back at my own life, I feel I’ve experienced history in some way, shape or form, in various areas, which doesn’t necessarily validate my life, but it’s something I feel good about, having been a spectator of history.
I recall the following (in no particular order) as being some sort of historically connected experience, big or small, I’ve experienced, many of these happening in this community…
1.) Seeing/hearing Robert F. Kennedy at the Jamestown Municipal Airport in 1964.
2.) Meeting Congressman Charles Goodell in the 1960s.
3.) Seeing many future MLB players, MLB All Stars, Hall of Famers, World Series MVPs and other baseball players who made their mark in other Professional Sports, but played baseball first in the PONY/NY-Penn leagues in Jamestown.
4.) Meeting numerous amazing authors through involvement with the Robert H. Jackson Center, including Karen Levine, Gail Jarrow, Jerry Spinelli, Lois Lowry, Jane Yolen, Phillip Hoose, Charles Shields, and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson.
5.) Meeting/spending time with/listening to Mr. & Mrs. Gabriel Bach. In 1961, Mr. Bach was appointed as Deputy Prosecutor of Adolph Eichmann.
6.) Meeting/spending time with/listening to, Sam Yasgur, (also at the Jackson Center) son of Max and Miriam Yasgur, owners of the farm which they opened up to thousands as the hosts of Woodstock in August of 1969.
7.) Listening to Budd Shulberg’s presentation (Jackson Center) discussing his role in putting together film footage of the atrocities of the Nazis for use at the Nuremberg Trials.
8.) Meeting Hall of Fame Baseball Players Lou Brock, Bill Mazeroski, Bob Feller, Brooks Robinson, Gaylord Perry, Yogi Berra, Ferguson Jenkins, Bob Gibson, Enos Slaughter and getting autographs and/or photos of them.
9.) Being part of the Record Setting Consecutive Attendance Sellouts (455) at Cleveland’s Jacobs/Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians (’90s to early ’00s). Attended games 1 and 455 of the streak and many in between.
10.) Attending a number of games during the 2017, twenty-two game American League Record Winning streak of the Cleveland Indians.
11.) Seeing Nolan Ryan’s last win in the Major Leagues.
12.) Seeing Ken Griffey Jr.’s last home run in the Major Leagues.
13.) Attending two World Series (one game in 1997, three in 2016)
14.) Seeing the USA and Russia play in the Junior Ice Hockey Tournament at the now Northwest Arena in Jamestown.
15.) Being part of two local high school sports programs whose athletes achieved Sectional Championship Success (1990 Jamestown High School Baseball, 2013 Falconer Softball) – (Local History)
16.) Serving as Baseball Camp Director for the Jamestown Jammers (1994-1998), and having worked with the likes of Dave Roberts (Current manager of the LA Dodgers, and Brandon Inge, former Detroit Tiger who played in the 2006 World Series.)
17.) Being from the same hometown/area as Lucille Ball, Robert H. Jackson, Roger Tory Peterson. Though never having met them, I’m proud to say they were from my hometown.
18.) Having Husband and Wife Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skating Champions, Alan Jenkins (1956) and Carol Heiss (1960) visit our annual Wax Museum (this particular one’s theme being The Olympics), at Jefferson School.
19.) Having the opportunity and pleasure to invite, meet and listen to former World’s Strongest Man, Don Reinhoudt, numerous times, as he addressed students about his successes and how to be a good person, live good, clean lives, set goals for themselves, and work hard to achieve those goals.
20.) Having had the HONOR of meeting/hearing numerous survivors of the Holocaust through programs in the Jamestown School System and Robert H. Jackson Center.
21.) Having had the honor of being in the same room and listening to Judge Ra’id Juhi al-Saedi, the Chief Justice of the Iraqi Tribunal, speak about his issuing of the indictment against Saddam Hussein.
22.) Having had the opportunity to facilitate youth in the People to People Program (2007 & 2008) in Washington, DC, and while in Washington (’08), sitting down and talking to former U.S. Congressman William Clinger (from Warren, PA) and “chew the fat” about our neck of the woods.
23.) Seeing a Presidential motorcade (transporting the President and the Pope) pass by while standing on a sidewalk in Washington, near the White House, during a People to People Program.
24.) Having the chance to sit in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., looking at the place occupied by local lawyer, later Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson.
25.) Having had the opportunity to attend addresses of the past two Supreme Court Chief Justices (Honorable Chief Justices Rehnquist and Roberts) at the Robert H. Jackson Center.
26.) Having had the chance to share a night of baseball at the Robert H. Jackson Center viewing and discussing the movie The Natural, filmed in South Dayton and Buffalo, with many local connections including roles played by the grandfather of JHS Baseball coach Dave Roehmholdt, and Ron Nero, NY State Trooper, and former Head Baseball Coach at Medaille College (who was my son’s first college baseball coach.)
27.) Having been given the opportunity to visit the Saudi Arabian Embassy (two consecutive years) in Washington, DC as part of the People to People Program (2007 & 2008).
28.) Having had the privilege of sitting in the gallery of the House of Representatives Chamber as a bill was being discussed and a call for a vote was made. I was able to see how legislators not in the room during discussion were called to the hall to cast their votes and we got to see the “ballot board” tally the vote and keep count until the entire roll call was completed.
29.) Having had the honor and pleasure to listen to Anthony Alaimo’s story at the Robert H. Jackson Center. Mr. Alaimo, a relative of the Geraci family of Chautauqua County, was a WWII POW, held in Stalag Luft III, and was part of the planning/execution of the Great Escape (retold in a 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.)
30.) Having had the privilege of serving with, and listening to, Mr. James Johnson, former President and CEO of the Robert H. Jackson Center and who served as Chief of Prosecutions for the special court for Sierra Leone.
31.) Witnessing the March 15, 2009, Space Shuttle, Discovery, Launch.
32.) Attending the 1999 Baseball HOF inductions of Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, Orlando Cepada, Smokey Joe Williams, Nestor Chylak, (you and me both HOFers Johnny Bench, a.k.a. Michael Zang.) and Frank Selee.
33.) Having umpired behind Shane Conlan when he was the catcher for Frewsburg High School.
34.) Having been treated like a king, by former NFLer, Jim McCusker, numerous times at Jamestown’s version of Cheers, a.k.a. The Pub.
35.) Being selected and introduced as one of the Starting Nine Season Ticket Holders at Progressive Field in Cleveland (2013) and getting to run out to an assigned position (2B) before an Indians game to meet the player at that position. Ironically, it was Jason Kipnis who began his baseball career in the NY-Penn League, so we talked about Jamestown.
I’ve been fortunate to have had millions of “normal” day to day opportunities in my life, let alone adding all these historic experiences to my lifeline as well. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life, wonderful family and wonderful friends. I worked a rewarding job, met many awesome people and experienced many amazing opportunities connected with my life and the people in it, and have also been able to experience all of these special historical connections as well. I thank everyone who has been a part of my life and all the great things I’ve been able to experience. I ask all of you reading this narrative, when you think your life is boring, to look at all of who and what have in your life, what you’ve been able to be a part of, and experience, in this life, in this community, and you may find that in some way, shape, or form, you have been a part of, associated with, or connected to, some kind of history. When I did, I found my life has been anything but boring. I venture the same will go for you.