Chance Encounters

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Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

 
For myself, it was entirely a chance encounter – but extremely memorable.  While I am not entirely sure of the date, the Google reference cited below places it likely in 1976, during a series of symposia held in Kresge Auditorium at MIT.  My friend and former house-mate, Alan Jeffreys, tracked me down in Watertown and asked if I could get us into the auditorium.  My backstage experience with Tech Show 1968 provided more than enough "insider knowledge" of the auditorium, and I had been an avid reader of Arthur Clarke's science fiction for many years.

There was no chance at all of getting into the session as regular attendees, but I managed to get us into Kresge at the stage-left door, backstage.  When Sir Arthur came offstage after his talk, Alan and I created a mystery for the hosts.  Alan grew up on Sri Lanka as a next-door neighbor; Sir Arthur was surprised and wonderfully pleased, greeting Alan as a long-time friend and catching up on events.  The official crew of local hosts had no clue who we were or what the connection could be.

After the talk, Sir Arthur and the entourage went over to the snack bar / lounge on the third floor of the Stratton Center (long gone, by now).  I found out in conversation that Sir Arthur also knew my brother, Jeremy.  Alan and Jeremy were classmates in Pelham High School in the mid-1960s; on more than one occasion they had stayed in Arthur's (private, reserved) hotel room in New York City – with permission, of course.

For most of the after-talk affair I was an uninvolved bystander, but it provided some amusing commentary on celebrity to note the curiosity – "Who is that? Should we know?"

Sir Arthur Clarke at MIT

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Copyright 2016 by David B. Tuttle, Reading MA
This page last updated 19-Mar-2016

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