28 May, 2016

Josephine Baker, The Black Pearl Coincidence

Josephne Baker

I must admit that I didn't know much about Josephine Baker (1906-1975) but I had read that Ernest Hemingway said she was, "The most sensational woman anybody ever saw." I then, by chance, came across a review from 1981 of a biography of Ms Baker by Lynn Haney - and this in turn led to a coincidence story.

First though, Josephine Baker was an American born French dancer, jazz and pop music singer and actress. She became known as the Black Pearl, Bronze Venus and Jazz Cleopatra. There is much more to her though, which I won't go into here, other than to say she was supposedly the richest black woman in the world and the biggest American star to hit Paris, France.

Anyway, the coincidence:

When Lynn Haney was researching her subject she rented a motorbike and went villa-hopping in order to find people who had lived near Miss Baker when she had Les Milandes, a 15th century chateau in France's Dordogne Valley.

However, she found out more, much nearer home. One of her strangest meetings happened at Nathan's Famous, Brooklyn, New York City. Miss Haney was there having a bite to eat when she noticed an older black man reading some old Broadway handbills. She explained:

"It turned out he had been on the old black vaudeville circuit at one time. I asked him if he had ever run into Josephine Baker. He looked at me and smiled and said, 'Why, I was her manager.'

I don't believe in the occult but that was the most remarkable coincidence. And, of course he gave me lots of stories about her."

That's it! But isn't life strange, how things turn out, I had no idea what to write about today when by 'chance' I came across the story of Josephine Baker and this led me to the coincidence that Lynn Haney was talking about. Funny old world.

The book is still in print on Amazon: Naked at the Feast by Lynn Haney

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27 May, 2016

She Saw Her Neighbour After She Had Died

Smiling old lady

A short story from my cuttings of how a lady claims to have seen her neighbour - after she had died.

"I once saw a dear neighbour - a lovely, elderly lady, who had been very ill - standing at the edge of the pavement outside her flat and looking towards my house with a big smile on her face.

I remember thinking how well she looked and smiled because it seemed she was now better.

I didn't pull back the curtain to wave because I had just got up and was wearing a tatty nightie and my hair was a mess!

How I wish I had because a few days later her daughter told me that her mother had never recovered from her illness and had died in hospital before the time I saw her.

But I did see her - and I can still see her now. I can't explain it."

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26 May, 2016

General U.S Grant And The Pumpkin Pie Coincidence

A light and fluffy story today, which I saw in a 1938 copy of a St Petersburg Times newspaper:


Lieutenant Wickfield, Union Army Officer, one day in the early part of the Civil War, stopped with a group of friends at a Missouri farmhouse for refreshments.

To impress the housewife, he represented his party as General U.S Grant and Staff. The men virtually stripped the farmhouse of victuals. Only a delicious pumpkin pie remained; the men were too full to eat it.

By coincidence, Grant himself the same day stopped at the same farmhouse - and found the cupboard bare, except for the pie. The housewife told the story of Wickfield's visit, so Grant set out after him.

With the Army at attention Grant read the following order:

"Lieutenant Wickfield, having on this day eaten everything in Mrs. Selvidge's house, except one pumpkin pie, is hereby ordered to return with an escort of 100 cavalry and eat that pie also."

The order was carried out.


I also saw this in the same newspaper:

"It is a scientific fact that gravitational pull on the earth varies at different latitudes. Accordingly, the pendulum of a cuckoo clock set to run on time at one latitude would swing faster or slower in another, depending on the gravitational variation."

If the gravitation effects clocks, wonder what difference it makes to us humans at different latitudes?

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25 May, 2016

A Minute Either Way And This Coincidence Would Never Have Happened

Ryanair plane taking off

It's strange how sometimes we meet up with someone from the past as if it was destined to be. Who knows the reason: closure perhaps or to reignite the friendship? Here's such an event, a coincidence if you like, that brought two people together for a brief meeting. The story is by Cecil Webb.

I met my future wife, Doreen, at Heathrow airport when she was flying with Hunting-Clan Airlines.

I had a great (female) friend who worked for another airline, but when I met Doreen our friendship faded as we found other interests,

I left Heathrow and, after Doreen and I married, I was working at Gatwick airport and Doreen was in the crew rostering office of British United Airways that was formed after Freddie Laker drew various independent airlines together, including HCA.

During the late Sixties I had to travel to Heathrow for a meeting. I stopped at a roundabout to give way to another vehicle and the driver and I looked at each other in astonishment.

It was my old friend from Heathrow and, what was more, we were driving similar vehicles. I followed her into a lay-by and we both got out and, after a friendly hug, we exchanged updates of the past ten years during which we had both married.

I was running late for the meeting and she was rushing to the airport to meet her husband coming off a shift. We said a brief farewell and never thought of exchanging phone numbers or addresses.

If I had arrived at that roundabout a minute earlier, or a minute later our paths would never have crossed.

~ Cecil Webb

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24 May, 2016

The Fisherman's Coincidence Of All Coincidences

Fishing boat with colourful floats

Here's a mighty strange coincidence in a story from John Henderson, It all begins on a deep-sea fishing boat as it pulled away from the docks at Calabash, N.C. In his own words:

My two brothers and myself were on the boat when another boat came by, and the gentleman next to me remarked, "That sure is a coincidence." The name of the boat was 'Three Brothers'.

The gentleman, pointing to other gentleman with him said, "We're three brothers."

I said, yes, and pointing to my two brothers with me, explained that we were three brothers too.

I introduced him to my older brother, Bill, and he introduced us to his older brother, Bill.

Then I said my youngest brother's name, Bob and he said his younger brother was Bob.

I said I was the middle brother and he said, "Don't tell me. Your name is John." He was the middle brother and his name was John too.

We got talking about our families, and it came out that the wife of John in that family had suffered a stroke. Well, my wife has suffered a stroke. It's almost too much to believe, but honestly, it's a true story. It has to be the coincidence of all coincidences.

~ John Henderson

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23 May, 2016

A Curious Coincidence About The Warning Of World War 2

Soldiers of the German Wehrmacht at the border
crossing between Poland and the Free City of Danzig, 1 September 1939
Here's a letter I came across that was sent to The Glasgow Herald on July 17, 1939. It is headed "A Curious Coincidence". (As a side note World War 2 began on the 1st of September 1939.) Here's the letter:

Sirs, It is a well known fact that history has a habit of repeating itself. and curious coincidences do occur. I write to draw attention to the fact that on July 20 to 27 1914, the British Medical Association met in Aberdeen. Before the meetings were over doctors were called away for military service in the Great War [World War 1].

Within a week's time the British Medical Association again meets in Aberdeen - the first since 1914. Does this interesting coincidence presage an approaching Armageddon?

The European situation today is far more dangerous for us than in July 1914. The existence of the British Empire is at stake. Within weeks we could be in a life-and -death struggle with Germany, and no mercy will ever be shown us this time. If the dragon's teeth get a grip of this country, those patriotic men and women who say they cannot give time for National Service, as it interferes with their golf, tennis etc. will sing a different tune, it they sing at all.

Many will regret that Mr Churchill's warning went unheeded for years, that conscription was not introduced last September, and that the Minister of Propaganda, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, was not in being a year ago instead of at the last minute when it seems all too late.

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21 May, 2016

Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Remarkable Coincidence

Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

A quite remarkable coincidence story from my cuttings. This one is from Mr V.L Coombes of Devon, England and features his brother.

My brother Murray was in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and fought right through the North African campaign. Subsequently his unit was sent to join the fighting in Italy.

He was riding in a convoy to Monte Cassino when a couple of enemy planes strafed the lorries. Murray threw himself into a ditch at the side of the road.

However, it was already occupied by a soldier lying face down in the mud. When the bullets stopped whizzing overhead, the original resident turned around and said, "Hello Mur, nice of you to drop in!"

Despite the muddy face, Murray recognised him as the lad who, years before when children, had spent years sitting beside him in a double desk in our small school and whom he had not seen since the day they left.

Now, there's a coincidence!

~ Mr V.L Coombes

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