Strange Encounter

Etha baton 1953Jack SeibertCheerleader 1966

Thirty-eight years ago, my first cousin, Etha (named after my mother) and her husband, bought a van from a young salesman named Jack S. at Duryea Motors in Brockport, NY.  The two of them didn’t know they had met before, but I am sure they had.  Etha lived in nearby Albion, NY.  Jack lived about twenty minutes away.  I, living in Tonawanda, NY, one and half hours away, was out of contact with both of them at that point in my life.  All three of us were busy having babies at that time.

Etha was settled in Albion for life.  Jack was in a period of flux.  He was my childhood pastor’s son.  Etha visited our house annually for a few days, and she attended church with us. She likely met Jack who was best friends with our cousin Jerry.  Jack, three years my senior, went to Roberts Wesleyan College near Rochester, NY.  That is how I heard of that school, and ultimately decided to attend there as well.  While Etha, the same age as Jack, attended Houghton College which is thirty minutes from my hometown.

Jack became a teacher after graduating, but was disenchanted with a teaching career.  He took a leave of absence to try some positions in business.  He applied for a Finance and Insurance position at the Duryea dealership.  However, they required all employees work in sales first.  That is how he happened to be selling used cars when Etha and Sid came shopping.

Last summer, Jack found me on Facebook.  We have been warming our keyboards ever since with our long stories, catching up on the many years between our last meeting.  Both Etha and Jack joined in with comments on a silly, extensive thread I started about how to pronounce the word “flan.”  Etha noted Jack S’s name and posted she had purchased a van from him way back when.  I posted, “Jack S., a used car salesman?  LOL  He graduated from Roberts.  He is the reason that I knew about Roberts!”  Little did I know he really had been a used car salesman.  That had not been mentioned in our long discourses yet.  He responded to me off Facebook with, “It is interesting that this would come up now.  I look back at those days and recognize it as when the Lord was moving me on to where I was supposed to be later, like Arizona.  First of all, I am either flattered or embarrassed, and I don’t know which, that your friends would remember me after all these years since the fall of ’76 when they purchased their van.  I would not remember a detail like that in hardly any such transaction.  I wonder what made me so memorable.”

So I wrote to my cousin to ask how she recognized their car salesman’s name from so long ago!  Her response:  “I remember Jack because, early in our inspection of the van, the salesperson, Jack S., told me I reminded him of someone he knew, Nina May Herne.  Now I was the shocked one!  I told him you were my cousin! Who wouldn’t remember such a coincidence? A month or two later we went back to the dealer and inquired about Jack, only to be told he moved to Arizona! Who wouldn’t remember that?!  Simple, but that’s it.”

Now it is my mouth that has fallen open!!!  I wasn’t aware Etha and I shared any visible characteristics.  There are many other things we share — love of music, God, genealogy, and family, plus her childhood clothes.  I rarely had a dress which was purchased for me.  Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my two older cousins whom I adored:  Etha and Marlene. (Marlene is the subject of a previous post —  I had such a beautiful wardrobe from them that my second grade teacher told my mother she did not need to send me to school in such pretty dresses!  I learned to twirl baton, because Etha did.  Etha had a cabinet full of trophies proving her expertise.  I also took piano lessons using her John Schaum and John Thompson books passed on to me.  My baton twirling came to an end in eighth grade when I outgrew my uniform.  My parents said they would not buy me a new one, because Christian girls should not wear such short skirts.  Thankfully, cheerleaders in those days wore knee-length skirts!  Jack did not know I wore Etha’s clothes, twirled, or played piano because she did, so what obvious characteristics do we share?  Quite likely our mannerisms could be similar as our mothers were sisters.  I think we both smile a lot, and our vocal and facial expressions may have some similarities.  Something else all three of us share is the love of Jesus in our hearts!

Jack wrote, “Kind of reminds me of the picture where sometimes there are two sets of footprints in the sand, and other times of just one set in your walk through life.  When you look back at the footprints, you know you were carried a few times!  I think that especially applies to not only me through that rough time just mentioned, but to you, now restarting and getting your after-spouse life back together again.  So reassuring.”

I replied, “I had not thought of it in that way, but God certainly was carrying me after my daughter Karin died as I helped her husband remove her belongings and reorganize his life.  When my spouse was misbehaving, God gave me encouragement with promise after promise.  Through the worst of his behavior, God sent me three young women who moved in temporarily until my lawyer told me to lock him out.  I called them angels, and they called me Charlie!


About 9awalsh

A genealogist and writer who has uncovered legacy stories which must be told. I also write a blog, Deciphering Life, trying to figure out why life becomes so tangled --
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