Saturday, November 3, 2012

11/3/21, the date of Charles Bushinsky's birth.  Grew up poor around the coal mines of Central PA.  Went to the mines at 16 and grew large worker's muscles, lean but well cut.  Almost died in a cave-in and had a life-long fear of enclosed spaces.   Drafted into the Air Corps in 43 and became a tail gunner in a B-29 with 25 missions (think of the horror of "Memphis Belle" as his working chore).  Won some medals and used the G.I. Bill to study art in Pasadena (a life long passion for this "Brute") and then moved over to acting.  He then changed his name to Bronson, the street's name that leads to the famous Paramount Gate.  Retired in 98 when he had a hip replacement followed by the Big A, Alzheimer, and died in 2002.

So what?  A man has haunted me since around 1955 or 56 when I was 16 or 17 and delivering shoes supplies to shoemakers, the family business, in the coal regions around Summit Hill, PA.  There was one shoemaker in this suburb of Mauch Chunk, now known as Jim Thorpe.  I entered a small shop and sitting there in a sleeveless undershirt in the most relaxed position possible, obviously doing no work., was the most powerful man I had ever seen and as a football player and construction laborer, I was used to seeing well built men and boys but this guy had them all beat and was not even close to flexing his muscles, they just rested where they lay, bursting with potential power but he was chilling, an easy smile on his face.

He explained that he was just baby sitting the shop and knew nothing about the ordered supplies that were usually paid for when delivered.  What to do?   He didn't have the money, best as I can remember, and shoemaker's usually only ordered what they needed for a particular repair, so what it was down to was, do you trust this guy or not.  His way with me won me over.  Confident, at ease, friendly.  I gave him the goods and wondered to myself, who was that cool guy with that winning smile and all those muscles?  I believe his name was Charles Bronson.   I could be wrong but I have mojo with meeting famous people before they are famous like Striesand and Dylan.  I don't know for sure if it was him but I do know a man I met won me over in a heartbeat and isn't that what a star really is whether known or unknown to the world.

Simply,  Simon Gribben

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