Too close to history

There was nothing special about Harry Wheeler. He lived in the Bronx and made his living as a furrier. Nothing too exciting ever happened to Harry…until 1927. In May of that year, Harry Wheeler traveled to Paris to buy rabbit pelts for his business. While he was there, he heard that an American named Charles Lindbergh was attempting to be the first person to fly the Atlantic to Paris solo. Thinking that would be something interesting to see, and that he would be a part of history, Wheeler made his way to Le Bourget airport to see Lindbergh land. Unfortunately, thousands of others had the same idea, and the place was wall to wall people. So crowded was the field that Lindbergh at first thought he had the wrong place.

When Lindbergh finally landed, the mob was in a frenzy. They grabbed the aviator and carried him, all the while grabbing pieces of his clothing as souvenirs. His flying hat was snatched off his head and was never found. Lindy was finally rescued by some fellow aviators and spirited away from the crowds. Much of the mob was unaware of this development and was looking around for a tall, thin, American with thick sandy hair.

By an unfortunate coincidence, that description fit Harry Wheeler perfectly.

Thinking he was Charles Lindbergh, the mob then turned its attention to the hapless furrier from the Bronx. The protesting Wheeler was carried and manhandled all around the field, finally being passed through a shattered window missing his coat, his belt, and half of his shirt. What clothing he had left was hanging in torn strips.  Harry Wheeler suffered no permanent damage, and emerged with a story to tell, but just the same, was glad it was over.

Being part of history wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.


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