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Category Archives: Totally random
This story, Diane Silfen says, is like one of those amazing things that always happen to random strangers.
But — thanks to a random stranger — it happened to her.
Diane’s Westport roots are long and deep. Her mother, Elise Barnes, graduated from Staples High School in 1936. As Diane Haehl, she followed in 1965. So did her 2 siblings: David in 1969, and Janet 3 years after that.
Diane runs the Haehl Insurance Agency — the longtime family business — here. But she’s riding out the COVID-19 crisis at her Key West condo.
(It’s tough even there. With the beaches closed and the tourists gone, it’s like a ghost town.)
On Wednesday morning, Diane’s phone rang. The call was from Illinois. Suspecting a telemarketer, she almost did not answer.
For some reason though, she did.
The caller said, “I’m looking for Diane Silfen.”
“I’m Diane,” she replied.
He asked if Illinois or Colorado meant anything to her. No, she said.
The man said he and his wife once lived in Illinois; then they moved west. With time on their hands while self-isolating, they’d been going through storage boxes.
At the bottom of one was a Staples class ring, from 1969. It bore the initials “DWH.”
“That’s my brother!” Diane said.
“I know,” the man replied.
“We know he’s deceased. We want you to have it.”
As Diane listened in astonishment, the man — she was too stunned to ask his name – described what happened after finding the ring.
He and his wife went online. They found Staples High School in Westport; tracked down the list of ’69 grads, and saw the name David William Haehl.
Researching further, they learned that he died 12 years ago. The obituary included his sister’s name. The couple plowed ahead, and found Janet.
How the ring ended up in the bottom of their box is a mystery. They asked Janet if David traveled a lot.
“He went everywhere — but only for scuba diving,” she said. That ruled out Illinois and Colorado.
The man said he’d sanitize the ring, put it in a box, and send it to Florida. Diane will give it — proudly, lovingly, amazingly — to her son Seth.
That is indeed the kind of story that usually happens to other people. But David seems to have led that kind of happy-coincidence life.
Diane noted that when he was in Westport, David never missed a Staples football game.
When he died, the family held a memorial service at Compo Beach. The high school band was there, practicing loudly.
Someone suggested asking them to stop for a while.
“Of course not!” Diane replied. “It’s like they were playing there for him.”
It’s April 1. But given the state of today’s world, there’s no way I can make light of anything.
Of course, we still have to laugh. Click here to relive the past 10 years of April Fool’s jokes, “06880” style.
… alert “06880” reader Richard Bailey was pleased to find face masks available for purchase on Amazon.
On the other hand, when he looked closely he was surprised to see exactly where they came from.
Meanwhile, as 1st Selectman Jim Marpe says often: “Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands!”
Richard Wiese has spent his career bridging cultural gaps.
Traveling to all 7 continents, he’s tagged jaguars in the Yucatan jungles, led expeditions to the Northern Territory of Australia, joined the largest medical expedition ever conducted on Mt. Everest, discovered 29 new life forms on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and cross-country skied to the North Pole.
The Weston resident is host and executive producer of “Born to Explore,” the award-winning PBS television series produced on Main Street. He’s also in his 3rd term as president of the Explorers Club, a 116-year-old international organization dedicated to the 4 corners of the earth — plus oceans and outer space.
Yet on Tuesday, Wiese created an important cross-cultural connection with just one person: the woman sitting next to him on a plane, stuck on the tarmac in Oslo.
The woman was brought on the Norwegian Air flight in a wheelchair. When she was seated, a flight attendant spoke to her in English. It was clear to Wiese that no matter how slowly she talked, his seatmate did not understand a word.
The woman fumbled with her phone. Wiese was able to figure out she was from Bangladesh.
He typed, “Can I help you?” — and then used Google Translate to ask the question in Bengali.
The woman wanted her son to know she was on the flight, as they waited out a delay.
Wiese contacted her son — in Bangladesh.
Weise then learned she was lactose-intolerant. “That was an unusual translation,” he says. He told a flight attendant, who found a special meal for her.
Wiese texted the woman’s son when they landed, and made sure she got off the plane okay.
“JFK is not the friendliest place in the world,” he notes. It was nice she had someone who cared — even if he “spoke” Bengali only with a smartphone.
“It felt good to help someone,” Wiese adds. “It was as easy for me to do that as it was to answer emails. And it’s nice to know you can use your phone for something other than that, and games.”
Spotted on South Morningside Drive, near Greens Farms Elementary School:
But the question remains: Is this guy rooting for or against the 49ers today?