Tuesday, June 27, 2017


One should be careful about asking people if they are "related" to other, well-known people. I'm usually only prompted to do this if it involves an unusual name. 

A local attorney who was the former County Prosecutor is named Eckstein. Now, Eckstein is NOT a common name. When I met him, I asked, "Are you related to Billy?" and he said he'd never heard of him.  I did not believe him and I later heard from a mutual acquaintance that he was NOT amused by the question.  

Sometimes people do not share my particular sense of humor, but oftentimes it's a rewarding experience.

Years ago, at a political event I met a man named Fred Strahorn. I asked, "Are you related to Billy?" He laughed and said, "Even though it's spelled differently, I always say I am!" We exchanged business cards and I noticed that his name's spelling was without the "y", like Billy Strayhorn's.

Fred asked, "How many people in here do you think even know who Billy was?" I answered, "Well, they SHOULD!" We discussed Billy Strayhorn's work with Duke Ellington and he said, "You must be a jazz fan." We compared likes and dislikes. Another person at the meeting asked, "HOW do you guys know these things?"  Fred and I stay in contact via Facebook. 

My favorite example is when I asked a colleague, Carl Hauptmann, "Any relation to Bruno?" Witty and quick on the uptake, he answered, "Oh, you knew UNCLE Bruno?"

However, to me it's sad when people do not know the famous--at least I think they are famous--people. I asked a person named McCullough, "Any relation to David?" Just because I think David McCullough--the Pulitzer Prize winning historian--is famous, doesn't mean that other people named McCullough do. Another time I asked a person named Furness if he were related to Betty and he said he'd never heard of her. When I told Les, he said, "Or, perhaps, others do not retain such minutiae!" I said, "But if you ever hear of someone famous with your surname, I would think you would remember!" Les said, "He's probably too young!"

I did NOT ask Governor Brian Schweitzer if he were related to Albert and did not ask Lilly Ledbetter if she were related to Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter). 

Sometimes I do behave myself!

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