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02TH August 2017

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Two Fathers, Two Sons, Two Wars; A trip that bound two families forever.


The are WHELKS at les Vapeurs, Deauville FR

These are WHELKS
Les Vapeurs, Deauville FR

Did you ever wish you had deep a lasting relationship that takes root based on some common ground and grows over a lifetime? Me too.

Have you ever heard of the Foxhole mentality, where sharing a common, at times harrowing, experience binds people for life? Which experiences of yours have done that? For me, it was Little League BaseBall Championships, the boarding school experience, and this one trip I took in 2003[?- greg].

People often ask the origin of my Facebook photo, in a leather aviator’s helmet and goggles at the control of a WWI-era Gypsy moth. I usually just answer… it was a 15-minute flight over the English Countryside near Duxford. But, the story is much longer than that. It began a friendship that spans generations, that has sought out new worlds and new civilizations, that has gone where few people from Central Pennsylvania have ever journeyed. And it almost never happened.

My Father would die before my mother, I reasoned at the time. He had been ill and recovered, but I just had that feeling (I was quite wrong). So I decided it was time for father and son to retrace the steps of Herbert Spencer in the Great War. We’d start by seeing the Spencer ancestral home in Northamptonshire, see some British War museums, cross the channel to Normandy, re-conquer Paris, and continue to the Somme River Valley where a ‘kraut machine gunner unloaded five rounds (his words) into Herbert’s torso and legs. He lived, you can read that story here. While this seemed a worthy itinerary, we needed some extra personnel to make it happen. And then the universe intervened in the form of a phone call from the superstar media-relations pro named Matusky. Greg Matusky. His father had been shot out of a B-24 bomber over Nazi Germany, held as a prisoner, escaped, and hadn’t been back since. Paul was sorta Dad’s age. They both loved history. I suggested, more than once and with increasing conviction: we should cook up “2F2S2W”, an epic father-son journey to retrace the steps of our families and the war(s).

It was worth a try, we reasoned. What could go wrong? We didn’t even know if they’d get along, but once we heard them say…“Hold on- you went to your prom with Mary too? Well, I took her to mine! In a neighboring town in Pennsylvania. A week later.Holy sh*t!… and at that point, we knew we had a winner.

Courtesans, they are not

Courtesans, they are not.

Paul and Art were born and grew up a few miles apart in Central PA coal country. They had lived through hard times and tremendous challenges, and were now headed to Europe with their sons. What resulted was summed up in this wacky video that to this day gives me chills, as two families learned of their common history, made total asses of themselves across the continent, and inspired each other to do more. The producer of the video is none other than Jono Matusky, at a then age of 15, with whom I now work in Havana on the Innovadores Foundation. Many a great adventure was spawned by that one trip, I am constantly reminded. But more importantly, two fathers and two sons grew incredibly close. The sons of the sons are next.

Do that with your father your son, or your friend, any chance you get. What could possibly go wrong!

 

 

 

 

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