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The Wisdom of Pete




By Tom Soter


“Hey, Tom,” my brother Pete said to me softly. “Look over there. Isn’t that Barbara Feldom?” He pointed across the crowded theater lobby at a tall woman chatting with a couple of people. Sure enough, it was “Agent 99” from a favorite TV comedy, Get Smart.

“Yes, it is,” I replied, always amazed at Peter’s ability to spot a celebrity.

“Would you like to meet her?”

“Sure, but how – ?“

Before I could finish speaking, he was waving and calling out loudly, “Barbara! Barbara! Over here!” She made her way over to us, smiling, and said, “How are you?”

“My brother, Tom, here, just wanted to make your acquaintance,” he said breezily. After that, the three of us chatted smoothly for a few minutes until Feldon, obviously consumed by curiosity, asked Peter, “Say, I can’t remember. When did we first meet?”

“Just a few minutes ago,” said my brother without missing a beat. And as he explained to me later: “These celebrities meet so many people that they forget who they know. If you act like you’re somebody who might know them, they respond rather than being embarrassed.”

Now, how did he know that?

July 24, 2010




Carol Gardiner is one of those people who always seem to have been in one’s life. I have known Carol since before I seemed to know anybody (I was three when we met) and she has been a stalwart friend in both good times and bad. She was a fellow social worker when my mother met her in 1959, having recently arrived in the U.S. from her native England. Daughter of a lord, she never put on airs and was usually present at every Soter Christmas, bringing a cabload of gifts to the three Soter children (and parents), undeserving as we were. When she moved back to England in 1980, my mother jokingly called her a traitor. We missed her, but she was never that.  

His name was Tom Sinclair but everyone called him Siny. It was third grade but I was still old enough to think the spelling was odd (shouldn’t that be Sinny?). Still, spelling aside we both liked the Combat! TV series, Marvel Comics, and Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan) and we were soon hanging out together. Siny was later joined by Alan Saly, a brainy type, and Christian Doherty, a wild kid who was highly creative. We recorded such audio dramas as Planet of the Nuns and The West that Wasn’t, filmed such movies as Visual Horror and You Made Me Hate Myself with a Super-8 camera, and stayed buddies for 40 years. They were the lifelong friends of my youth – and are the youthful friends of my middle age.

July 29, 2010