[Moderator Omega - Wristscan]
Who is . . .
. . . this man? The gentleman on the right, receiving the box.
I met him, once. And therein lies a tale.
* * *
It was in the early fall of 1985, downtown Los Angeles. It may well have been a Thursday, as that was when the Original Pantry . . .
. . . served corned beef and cabbage, a favorite in those days. I found a seat at the end of the counter, and after ordering lunch, opened my copy of Robert Caro's Path to Power,
the exhaustive first installment of his biography of Lyndon Johnson. Shortly afterward, a man walked in and pulled up the next seat. He was an older gentleman but vigorous, and carried himself erectly without a hint of his age, which I guessed to be in his seventies.
I don't remember how the conversation started, but it was over current affairs, and distinctly remember discussing either Vatican or Papal developments then consuming the headlines. As we were winding down our meals, the conversation took an unexpected turn. He asked if I was familiar with Freemasonry, and pleasantly surprised by my unusually well-informed reply; as a history buff, I'd made a connection between The Craft and several critical events, which apparently pleased him to no end. He then asked if I was interested in learning more about the fraternity, to which I expressed surprise - we had just met in a café, after all. His reply was telling: after noticing my choice of reading material and as a result of our conversation, he felt comfortable raising the topic, and asked for my address, which I gave.
A week later, a letter came in the mail. It was from the gentleman I'd shared a meal with, and typed on letterhead from a business firm (or, so I assumed at the time). The text of the letter was an invitation to a casual meeting at a lodge somewhere in Los Angeles. As it happened, though, I was just about to leave LA for an extended trip overseas, and never replied; it would've been awkward to accept his invitation but then decline any further involvement. After returning from overseas a year later, I recall looking over the letter again, but then tossing it out as it would've been equally awkward to contact him after a years absence.
The years passed, and the incident became nothing but a distant memory.
* * *
Fast-forward to February, 2011. I happened to be in a part of Los Angeles that I hadn't visited in decades, the city of Whittier. It so happened that I had a bit of free time on my hands, and while driving along Whittier Boulevard, passed by a pawn shop. Now, I must've driven past a thousand such places over the years, but this one inexplicably beckoned. After dropping off my lady friend at her appointment, I returned to the pawn shop, and walked in. The story was told on our Omega forum . . . omega.watchprosite.com
. . . back in April of that year. What I didn't
share, though, was the inscription on the back.
I understood the significance of the engraving. This watch had been presented to the Worshipful Master of a State Lodge for completing a year of service as Grand Master of that State's Masonic Lodge. No mention of the State, though, and the name Leo E Anderson meant nothing to me at the time.
A year later, on a Saturday afternoon in February, 2012, I again had a bit of free time on my hands, and the Seamaster was on my wrist that week. Just out of curiosity, I decided to search online for information on Leo. The first inquiry brought up an obituary . . . www.google.com
. . . from the Los Angeles Times. There were many clues in the obit that lead to further discoveries, including legal briefs he'd written and are now part of the curriculum in California law schools. The tastiest tidbit, though, was the name of the law firm he represented, Meserve, Mumper, and Hughes. I plugged the name of the law firm into Google search and came up with their website, which had their address in downtown Los Angeles.
Not ten minutes walking distance from the Original Pantry.
For the first time in decades, memories of the meeting with the old gentleman came flooding back. His
name was Leo - that much I clearly remembered. Could this possibly be the same man? The meeting place, his age (he would've been 83 at the time), name, and the subject of our conversation all matched. Feverishly, I looked thru reams of entries, until discovering the photo posted above, from the University of Southern California archives.
It was the very same man. Younger in the photo than when I met him, of course, but the visage and profile were identical. A watch is apparent, but unfortunately, the date of the photo is March, 1958, and the Seamaster would've been awarded at the Grand Lodge meeting in October of that year, so it's not the same Seamaster on his wrist. Still, the sheer magnitude of the coincidence was, to say the least, utterly fantastic. What are the odds of having a chance meeting with a complete stranger, and then coming face to face with him a quarter of a century later with his watch on your wrist?
Incalculable, I'd say.
* * *
Mechanical watches occupy a unique place in our lives. They are objects, to be sure - not flesh and blood, not animate. Unlike any other material object, though, they convey a sense
of time. Time: universal, practically undefinable, yet ever present. Nothing seems to carry the memories of the past more deeply than a watch, pocket or wrist. We remember our fathers and grandfathers by them. Chances are that a watch was a gift that marked a rite of passage. It may have been only a gift at the time, but means so much more as the years go by, and even more when the person who granted the gift passes on. A watch is not just a machine that tells time; it is a repository - of memory, of fondness, of ourselves.
That box found in the attic is not just a collection of antique artifacts. It is - as much as an inanimate object can be - living history.
The Piaget family must be immensely proud of, and touched by, the discovery.
This message has been edited by Dr No on 2014-05-15 11:13:48