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Topic: Small World

London, UK

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While working at Universal instruments in 1987, I had accumulated enough frequent flyer mileage to get two tickets to London. I purchased two more tickets so the entire family could go to London for about 10 days. By the third day, the weather was good enough to go watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. While we were standing at one of the side gates, the Queen passed by within 15 feet of us. She was in an open-top limo, dressed in pink. Of course, we were changing batteries in the camcorder at that moment so we missed getting that on tape. After watching the changing of the guard, we were walking back towards the hotel down Buckingham Palace Road, when someone behind us called out my name. I turned around, and there was Guido Groppo from Italy. My family was amazed, saying that "someone in London knows you?" Guido and I had worked together in southern Italy six months before. He and his brother were sitting in a restaurant next to the front window eating lunch and saw us walk by. They had brought his brother's wife to London for medical treatment.



This story is a pre-sequel to the London story. I was in Battapaglia, Italy, in the early part of 1987. That was when I worked with Guido Groppo, installing some Universal Instruments equipment. When we were finished, Guido drove me to a hotel in Rome, where I spent the night. The next morning I took a cab to the airport. Since we were going to land in Milan, we were not allowed to do any duty-free shopping in Rome. The seat I was assigned on the 747 was about the third row back on the right side, in the nose part of the cabin. After the doors were closed, the seat beside me was empty. After landing in Milan, I went into the terminal to do some duty-free shopping. When I returned, there was a passenger in that seat. About the time the doors closed, the passenger decided to move across the aisle where there were two empty seats, mentioning that we would both get little more elbow room. As he returned to retrieve his briefcase, I noticed the initials on the front of his briefcase, A J K. While he reached for his briefcase, he asked, "Do I know you?" I replied, "Yes, Alan, I used to work for you at Electra in Cumberland, Indiana." I realized who he was when I saw the initials on his briefcase. When we worked at Electra, he was the General Manager and I was an Automation Specialist working in the Manufacturing Engineering group. We manufactured Bearcat Scanners.



In early 1965, I was on TDY to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. KC-135 tankers were flying B-52 refueling missions in support of Vietnam. It was my turn to ride a launch truck one night. A launch truck is a step van with bench seats down each side. It is occupied by technicians from each of the avionics shops, for instance, one from the autopilot shop (me), another from the radar shop, and so on. If any of the aircraft had any last minute problems before launch, we had a few minutes to diagnose and repair the problem. I struck up a conversation with the driver, whose name was Bill Skutnik, from the radio shop. I mentioned that I used to deliver newspapers to a tavern owned by a William Skutnik. Bill said he had an uncle by that name. I asked him where he lived, and he told me Kewanee, Illinois, our hometown! Come to find out, it was the same William Skutnik that owned the Scoot Inn on 8th St. As the conversation progressed, we discovered that we both worked for John Rash at different times. John ran a TV and appliance store and repair shop in Kewanee.


Bloomington, IN

My wife, Joan, has been riding the school bus as a bus monitor for the last 19 years. In November of 2004, she was riding the bus through Bloomington, when she noticed a sign on the side of a house that read, "Tim Terry Jewelry". She remembered that I had a classmate by that name. Tim and I went to grade school and high school together. The last time I talked with Tim was at the 30th high school reunion in 1994. He was living in Binghamton, New York at the time, which is coincidental in the fact that Universal Instruments is based in Binghamton. When I worked for Universal, I visited the factory three or four times a year. Had I known that Tim was there, we could've had some nice visits. The day before Thanksgiving, my brother, Marty, and I decided to see if it was the same Tim Terry. We drove to the house with the sign and entered through the front door. When I spotted the head of white hair, I knew it was Tim. He and his wife Ladi had moved to Bloomington three or four months prior to our visit. Tim is a silversmith and makes jewelry. We've been hanging out ever so often, just like old times.

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