Of Dogs and Celebrities

This meme has little to do with the topic of Slim Randle’s guest post today, but he talks about dogs, right? And who doesn’t love Snoopy.

I’ve been laid up with severe back pain the past three days, and it’s still hanging around, vying with the trigeminal neuralgia for attention. I just wish they’d both go away. So, I’m always grateful to my friend Slim who shares his work so graciously. In this story he meets someone pretty special. Enjoy…

When the distinguished-looking elderly gentleman walked into the Iditarod Race headquarters (a room at the Roosevelt Hotel in Anchorage), I had no way of knowing this smiling man was going to lead me to my most embarrassing moment.

It was during the 1974 race, and my wife, Pam, ran race headquarters. I’d run the race in 1973, without managing to impress anyone. But hey, I was a dog musher, and here was a guy with a Boston accent, asking about the race.

His name, he said, was Norman Vaughan and he had just moved to Anchorage.

Well, I taught Norman Vaughan for the next hour how to drive a dog team. He smiled and nodded and listened patiently. Before he left, he told me we were probably going to see a lot of each other in the future and thanked me for the information.

Not twenty minutes later, the radio announcer let everyone know that the guest speaker at the mushers’ banquet that evening would be Colonel Norman Vaughan, who drove a dog team to the South Pole as part of the safety plan for the Byrd Expedition.

Byrd named a mountain in Antarctica for Norman, and Col. Vaughan took some young people down there and climbed it on his 100th birthday.

Embarrassing? I suppose, but at least he learned the correct way to handle a dog team, right?

Brought to you by Dogsled: A True Tale of the North, Slim’s first book.

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