From the Beatles to Capt. Sullenberger

Published 9:37 am Monday, June 18, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

I have had close brushes with celebrities. I had a moment of nostalgia when reading an area newspaper’s tribute to their 125th anniversary. This newspaper listed momentous moments in the state of Minnesota throughout their 125 years.

One of the momentous moments took place on Aug. 20, 1965. I happened to be present for that historic event. It was the Beatles concert at Metropolitan Stadium. The paper listed it as Aug. 20 but the Internet news lists it as Aug. 21. Whatever the date, I was there. I was screaming along with all the other fans not knowing how famous the Beatles actually would become in history. I wish I would have kept my tickets.

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For those of you young whippersnappers who possibly may read my column, you probably will not have heard of many of the celebrities who for moments I was near. You will have to Google to see who they were.

I thought about the Beatles concert and, yes, I didn’t get to touch them, but there were other moments in my life where famous celebrities were close. It started when I was 5 years old. I got to shake hands with Hopalong Cassidy, a western hero from the ’50s. I watched him every Saturday morning, and I actually got to shake his hand and touch his horse during the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

It was a long wait before my next brush with a famous person. That came during my early teen years when my cousins and I were playing miniature golf right next to Walter Matthau. Again those California vacations paid off.

My aunt, on the same trip to California, gave me the driver’s license receipt copy for Ray Milland. She worked in the Culver City Drivers License Bureau. It was signed by him. He touched it, she gave it to me, and I touched it. That was my next touch with fame. I still have it.

My next brush with fame was via the teen idols Paul and Paula. I met them at the State Fair and was able to shake hands with them and get their autograph. I was so excited.

The Beatles concert was next, and then I got to meet the Sandpipers. Remember their song “Guantanmera”? Who wouldn’t swoon at those beautiful voices? I got to meet them for a few minutes by default. A friend and I were in the front row of a concert and after the concert they wanted to meet her and one of them actually asked her out. It was so exciting but she said no.

In my adult years my brushes got mellower. Bob Barker of “The Price Is Right” called on my husband to ohh and ahh for him. I was right there next to my husband. Oprah’s producers interviewed me over the phone for a show on spirituality. I didn’t get to go because we were stormed in, but they called back and apologized. I don’t know what my earlier letter said to tweak their interest.

As SADD adviser for New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva High School, I helped students put together a successful video of the people in the community pleading the word “Please” for then Gopher basketball star Kevin Lynch to come and visit. This gave me the opportunity to spend a day with a very nice young man.

I forgot to mention that when I was in eighth grade I got to shake the hand of Hubert Humphrey Sr. and then again as SADD adviser I had opportunity to spend an evening talking with Hubert Humphrey Jr. and Mark Dusbabeck of the Minnesota Vikings at a party we won for the entire community. Yes, I have had many brushes with impressive people.

We idolize celebrities especially when we are young. I may joke about wanting to meet Robert Redford (I actually do), but I don’t think I would get all fluttery and as impressed as I was when I was a teenager.

We meet impressive, celebrity people every day. That title seems to be reserved for people who have had it hyped up by the media. Why else would the Kardashians and many reality stars now be celebrities?

The surgeon that saves a life or the doctors who day after day make a difference in people’s lives should be our celebrities. The firefighters, emergency personnel, ministers, parents and maybe the next person we meet on the street should be our celebrities. They don’t make the money those who we idolize do and their deeds day after day aren’t reported in the news but what they do is newsworthy.

Capt. Sully Sullenberger was not a celebrity until he landed his U.S. Airways plane on the Hudson River and saved many lives that day. But in my eyes he was a celebrity before that happened because every day this unsung hero landed many flights bringing people down from the skies safely as his every day job.

We want to meet those unattainable celebrities, but we come face to face with those who fit into the background performing heroic deeds every day. They may not make it into the latest adventure movie, the latest TV sitcom or the latest awards show, but we can give them an award every day by noticing them and saying “thank you.”

Who is your next American Idol?


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at