Friday, February 24, 2017

When History Shakes Your Hand

Originally I was going to write about that cute Dally and Spanky Store Special Set, but I was just looking at the BreyerFest Blog – ostensibly to check out today’s post about the Sunday Raffle Model Rangoli – but I found that the post from the day before… was directly relevant to something I had been trying to write about for a week.

I guess now is the time!

On the blog yesterday they announced the addition of the author Elizabeth Letts to seminar schedule. She wrote The Eighty-Dollar Champion, about the famous show jumper Snowman, who has been made into a Breyer model a twice over – and I own them both. That alone would be reason enough to have her as a guest. (And get my copy autographed!)

But she’s written another book, The Perfect Horse, about the rescue of the horses – primarily Arabians and Lipizzaners – seized/kidnapped by the Nazis for their equine breeding program. I’m sure most of you are familiar with or have seen the movie The Miracle of the White Stallions? That’s part of that story.

Prior to seeing that movie in elementary school, World War II was an abstraction for me. Most of my relatives (Belgian, Polish, Hungarian) had left Europe earlier, and those relatives that did serve never spoke of their service, at least not when the kids were around.

Anyway, as I’m walking in to work one day last week I overhear two coworkers talking – about horses! This is not unusual when I am present, but (obviously) I had not been present when this conversation started.

This was completely unknown to me before, but apparently the family of one of my coworkers – an older, soft-spoken lady who is also a professional clown – owned a Lipizzan farm in Poland just before World War II. Their horses were among those seized by the Nazis. Her family eventually left Poland for the U.S., but not everyone made it out alive.

I wasn’t quite rendered speechless – I ended up filling in a few incidental details about the story to the other coworker – but I did end up walking around in a bit of a daze for the rest of the day.

As the title of this blog makes abundantly clear, history is my thing. Most of the time I have to hunt and peck for it, but other times – like last week – it walks up to me and shakes my hand.


timaru star ii said...

Congratulations! That must have been quite a thrill. My husband's hobby is board wargaming and WWII is his favorite, so I like to say I'm married to a war historian. And yes, I have Letts' Snowman book and Snowman (Idocus version).

Corky said...

That is unreservedly awesome. It's so amazing that you have someone who witnessed that terrible time right there. I hope you get a chance to sit down and talk to her about it sometime!