Esp, Coincidence Or Just Life?

Over the last few months I have had three incidents of ESP or at least what I think is ESP. It started when I was sitting in the North End listening to the scanners and all of a sudden I thought of Jeffery Curley.

He was a young boy murdered by two male pedophiles in Cambridge in the 90s. Through the ordeal I became friends with his father Bob Curley. Bob was the mechanic for the Cambridge Fire Department.

Shortly after the thought I was called to come to the office in Needham, Massachusetts to pick up a reporter. As I left the North End I made a conscious decision to go to the office via Storrow Drive instead of hopping on the Pike. From where I was parked it was a coin toss for which way to Needham was fastest.

I would be getting off at the “Coke Plant” ramp which is now Guest Quarters Hotel. As I was getting off the ramp to get on the Pike, I saw a man jogging and it caught my attention, it was Bob Curley just taking the turn from Memorial Drive onto the Esplanade of Storrow Drive going east. I rolled down my window and yelled out “Hi Mr. Curley” he acknowledged me and I just kept driving shaking my head of what a coincidence.

A few weeks later while walking my dogs I got to thinking about the movie “The Thorn Birds” with Richard Chamberlain and the scene where Barbara Stanwyck orders him to shoot one of the dogs when it was too aggressive getting its dinner. Then I started to think, whatever happened to Dr. Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) from a show that was on in the 60s or 70s? I wondered if he was still alive.

Two days later Debbie (my wife) and I were watching “Brothers and Sisters” and who makes a guest appearance but Richard Chamberlain. Another case of ESP?

Earlier this month, I was searching for a Logan Airport photo which I am writing about and came across a photo from 1977. It was of a Chelsea ladder rescue where Lt. Joe VonHandorf rescued a 16 year old girl, made July 9th, the day before my 32nd birthday. I had not seen or thought of this photo for almost 30 years. I took the photo while working the midnight shift. I was driving to the fire on Broadway in Chelsea and I could see a ladder rescue on Cary Avenue in progress and got there in time to get some images.

Two days after seeing this photo, I was sent to Sherborn, Massachusetts to get real estate footage of the scene of an earlier accident. I could not figure out exactly where the tree was that was struck and on the roadway there was a Sherborn Police Cruiser. I pulled up next to it, rolled my window down as did the cop inside and asked which tree got hit.

He asked me who I was and I said “Stanley from Channel Five.” He then asks “Stanley Forman?” I said “yes.” He then said he has a story to tell me.

We both get out of our cars and when he said his name, Chris VanHandoff the bells started ringing in my head. Then he starts to tell me I photographed his father who was a Chelsea Firefighter. I interrupted him and told him about the photo and I had just looked at it the day before. He gave some details about his father and we both were amazed at the coincidence.

July 9, 1977, Chelsea MA, Broadway at Cary Avenue

From the Chelsea Fire Department Union Book that year: On the back it says “Pulitzer prize winning photographer Stanley Forman caught this dramatic moment on July 9, 1977, at 59 Cary Ave, Fire LT. Joe VonHandorf rescues Miss Estelle Scott, 16, over the aerial of Ladder 1, over heavy smoke in her third floor apartment. (Box 34, 2 alarms, 3:30am)”.

I was also told he was five years old when the photo and rescue took place. At his father’s wake in 2005 a family friend came up to him, introduces herself and told him that his father had rescued her almost 30 years before. This was the young woman in the photo.

I am hoping to catch up with her and eventually do a story. What you think ESP, Coincidence Or Just Life?

January 6, 2011

The saga continues as this past weekend while dubbing VHS videos to DVDs from my children’s younger years I came across a Channel Five’s news broadcast of a fire in Chelsea from the mid 90s. As I am watching some of the videos as they are being dubbed there was an interview and interviewee was Lt. Joe VonHandorf.

I made a copy of the video for his son Chris and sent it off. This is the heart warming response I received today via email.

Between my Mom, sister, and I we’ve gotten so much positive feedback from your story. We can’t be any more appreciative. Also, I received your video….it was pretty emotional for me. It was the first time my young sons had ever heard my Dad’s voice and had seen him in anything other than photos. It’s a gift I’ll pass along to them someday….thank you. To kinda go hand and hand with your story, my dad’s six year anniversary is Tuesday the 11th. Coincidence or happened for a reason. -Chris

From my Facebook:

Chris Von My own personal opinion, from a cop’s perspective….there is no such thing as a coincidence, things happen for a reason. I have always believed that and always will. Thanks for the story Stan, my Dad is smiling down.

The certificate from the City of  Chelsea provided to me by Chris VanHandoff.

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