In the summer of 1974, I convinced my friend Rodney Thomas to explore Europe with me for a month. We got our passports, backpacks, and rail passes, and took off.
Mama, don't let your sons grow up and visit Amsterdam, especially after dark.
What's with the goofball expressions in Dachau? Maybe this was taken prior to our entering the German concentration camp.
We two Summerville boys go to the Louvre in Paris to get all "culturefied." So I'm standing there agape, looking at the Mona Lisa, wondering how much it's worth, when I suddenly hear a girl's voice say, "Hey, Greg McCollum!"
I turn around and there, lo and behold, is one of my high school classmates from Summerville - Celia Thomas. Celia was making her way home after working in Germany for the summer and stopped in Paris. It is indeed a small world after all. (Now, I've got that Disney song stuck in my head again!)
Traveling through the Swiss Alps, we stop at a little place with a train station, hotel, and not much else except for a Hollywood film crew shooting "The Eiger Sanction." I'm standing in the hotel lobby when in walks Clint Eastwood. What does an international sophisticate from Summerville say when Clint Eastwood walks up to him?
"Whaddya say, Clint?"
He gives me a Dirty Harry stare (which I later emulate as a high school teacher with mixed results) and shakes my outstretched hand. Rodney and I try engaging him in some Hollywood-style repartee, but Clint doesn't cotton to our jive and makes a hasty exit.
Later that evening, we're sitting in the little hotel bar with the cast and crew. In the corner, a man strums a guitar, singing his version of Roberta Flack, "drilling me softly with your love." Years later, I realize I was sitting in the presence of the actor who starred in what many critics consider to be the worst movie ever made (no, not "The Eiger Sanction"), the infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
If you ever watch "The Eiger Sanction," you'll see Gregory Walcott playing the idiotic government agent, "Pope," who gets his head bashed in by big Clint. If I'd gone up to Gregory Walcott and told him I was a big fan of "Plan 9," I'm sure he would have bashed my head in with his guitar.
Rodney and George Kennedy in Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland.
The next morning, we decide the Hollywood life doesn't suit us and it's time to leave. Besides, even though it's August, I've been freezing in my windbreaker jacket. Who knew the Alps would be so cold? Anyway, I'm sitting in the train station when Rodney says, "Let me borrow your camera. I'm going to see if I can get a picture of Clint."
"A man's got to know the limitations of a Kodak Instamatic."
Rodney sees Clint walking by and asks to take his picture. Clint says go ahead, make my day, so Rodney snaps the above photo. Clint also takes the time to sign an autograph to Rodney's girlfriend.
Thanks, Clint. We'll always remember our short visit (and we'll try to forget spending four bucks to see "The Eiger Sanction").
Back to Diversions page
Back to Home page
Copyright 2010 Greg W. McCollum. All rights reserved.