You Can’t Take it with You: Accidental Pioneers

Jim Nayder 1954 to two-weeks-ago Thursday

“Annoying music is like a train wreck,” Mr. Nayder once said, “You don’t want to look, but you have to.”  He discovered as much as the host of NPR’s ‘The Annoying Music Show,’ bringing to the nation’s ears such gems (surely of the semi-precious variety) as Tiny Tim’s ‘singing’ “Hey Jude” or the Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble of Leningrad’s unexpectedly earnest “California Girls.”  Jim leaves behind the wide dissemination of this, my favorite of William Shatner’s many works:

Lonesome George  ~1912 to two-weeks-ago Monday

At 8:00 am on 24 June 2012, Lonesome George–the last of the Pinta subspecies of giant tortoise–was pronounced dead of heart failure.  The Galapagan centenarian terrapin was dubbed by PBS the rarest creature in the world, literally one of a kind.  I guess something else gets that award now.  Three times in the last decade they put George in a cage with some lady tortoises, but even with George carrying the tag of only remaining member of his species, they refused to procreate the last of his species on earth.  LG leaves behind an unclaimed reward of $10,000 for finding him a suitable mate.

Lancelote Miguel Rodrigues 1924 three weeks ago Monday

We Jesuits run a seminary in Macau, that gambling mecca just a stone’s throw from Hong Kong.  Its alumni include a cardinal and more six bishops.  But I guarantee the life of Father Lancelote will be the seminary’s greatest legacy.  He didn’t really like us, having to spend “13 years in St. Joseph seminary furtively smoking, pining for girls and suffering Jesuit discipline.”  Perhaps he wasn’t unique in that regard, but his love for gambling, ‘Scottish water’ … okay, maybe he wasn’t that different.  Rodrigues became famous for his work with refugees.  From the Portuguese fleeing Mao in the 40s to the Chinese escaping the same two decades later, from the Vietnamese boat people to the recent East Timorese, Miguel Rodrigues was the St. Peter of Macau, welcoming the recently displaced into a new and better life.  He found them jobs, built them houses, and scored them visas from countries in Europe and North America.  Indeed, he even once boozed up a Canadian official to quicken the visa-issuing process–at 11am.  He leaves behind the more than 10,000 refugees he was able to resettle.

Jean Stapleton  1923 to five-weeks-ago Saturday

In her role as Archie Bunker’s wife Edith in the immensely popular television comedy ‘All in the Family, Ms. Stapleton was ”the soul of justice.” At least in her own words.  At first glance it’s tough to understand how this could be true, Edith, with her “high-pitched nasal delivery, frequently baffled expression and hustling, servile gait that was almost a canter, especially when she was in a panic to get dinner on the table or to bring Archie a beer.”  Yet at the same time she leaves behind this, one of the most famous prime-time tv statements of feminism:

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Cover image of All in the Family can be found at Wikipedia Commons here.

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