There are lots of stories about being in the right place at the right time. Here's a good one:
In 1953, at the age of 21, Bob Eminizer left his job at the telephone company and enlisted in the Navy. After 12 weeks of training, he was assigned to the USS Newport News, a heavy cruiser in the 6th Fleet. He spent the next two years on the ship working in the boiler room, converting seawater into fresh water that could be used anywhere on the ship - desalination. Bob said, "It was a good job and I enjoyed it."
In the spring of 1954, the Newport News was doing a Mediterranean cruise, visiting 12 countries and engaging in training exercises with other NATO forces in the area. Some of the ports visited were in Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Naples and Turkey. Our story begins as the ship left Naples en route to Genoa, Italy.
Coming off of watch one evening, Bob happened upon a copy of Focus magazine - he had never heard of this magazine before. On the cover was a picture of a gentleman with his 9-year-old daughter who had polio. They lived in Genoa and were trying to raise money to get the daughter to the U.S. for treatment, as there were no facilities in Genoa to treat polio.
Polio, or infantile paralysis, was one of the most dreaded of childhood diseases. Different types of paralysis could occur, the most common being in the legs. There was no cure for polio, but movement could be regained with extensive rehabilitation. (Vaccines were being developed throughout the 1950s. After many trials, Albert Sabin's vaccine was selected by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and was licensed in 1962, becoming the only polio vaccine used worldwide.)
Bob read the article in the magazine and realized, "We're on our way to Genoa." He took the article to his executive officer and asked permission to collect money on the ship to give to the family when they arrived in port. He was given that permission and given time to address the crew over the loudspeakers, explaining the mission. From there, the American consulate in Genoa was contacted, who contacted the Italian consulate, who contacted the family and arranged a visit by the Americans.
The family was taken to the ship and given a tour; the daughter had to be carried up and down the gangway. Lunch and cake were served and there were gifts, including the sum of $700 - more than enough at that time to get the daughter to New York City for treatment. The family was "very appreciative" and was then taken back home. The captain was very pleased with the positive exposure for his ship and crew.
Three years later, Bob received a package in the mail. It was a letter and a gift from Andrea (the daughter). She told Bob that she did receive treatment and had regained the use of her legs, all because a 21-year-old sailor picked up a magazine. Bob knows that Andrea would be 68 years old now. He has not heard from her since, but still wonders what became of her. Of course, the best news was that she could use her legs. Understandably, Bob considers this the high point of that Mediterranean cruise.
Bob went back to his job at the phone company and got married and started a family. The phone company was C&P Telephone of Maryland, later Bell Atlantic. Before retiring from Bell Atlantic, Bob worked as a cable splicer, testing circuits; he also worked in engineering and supervision, and was in the legal department.
At that time, telephone cables were being damaged when steam leaked from the old piping of other utilities, came into contact with the phone cables and melted them. Bob saw the extent of the damage and prepared and presented a court case that resulted in a very large settlement from the utility company. More importantly, it impacted the future operations of the utility so that the phone cables would not be harmed. Once again, one person made a big difference.
Although not originally from Carroll County, Bob is happy to call it home now. His advice to younger people is "to get established in a church, get a family, be a person who is looked up to, work hard, get educated and keep your nose clean." I would add to that: Never underestimate the power of one.