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  • Writer's pictureBriar Mitchell

My Mom and Gregory Peck

My mother was an elegant woman. Highly educated, quite beautiful and she had this casual, graceful way of moving that caused even total strangers to notice when she walked. Her name was Diane Clara, and sadly, I lost her over 20 years ago.

My mom's favorite place to visit was Denmark. She loved to get over there as often as she could, and it was the return flight back to New York City from one such trip that is the source for this fun story. She and my dad were flying back, and, he had been able to get the two bulkhead seats at the front of the passenger section of the plane.

As much as my mom loved going over to Denmark, she absolutely hated flying and sitting there, at the very front of the seats, helped make it a bit easier. Smoking helped her too, and she would puff away most of the trip home on these little cigars she loved so much.

On this flight back, sitting right across the aisle from them was Gregory Peck and his (assumed to be) manager. She told me that she overheard Peck say how interesting it was to see a woman smoking a cigar.

The flight back was smooth and uneventful, and, they landed safely at LaGuardia Airport, New York in the afternoon. This was in the 1950’s and those large, moveable ramps that swing over to the door of the plane were not used yet. Instead, stairs on wheels were rolled up to the door and locked in place, so people could walk down to the asphalt then into the terminal.

So, here is the fun part of the story.

As the people began to leave the plane, Peck was allowed to leave first, and everyone seemed happy enough to let him pass. Afterall, he was a big star! Since my parents were right next to him and his manager, they just followed along behind them.

Exiting the plane towards the back, Peck’s manager went first, then Peck, and my mother was right behind him. The flight attendant just assumed my mom, as pretty and elegant as she was, must have been with Gregory Peck, so she let her go right after him. They stopped my dad though, and, were holding all of the other passengers back until Peck was on the ground.

A bunch of photographers were waiting for him. Peck obliged them and stopped about halfway down the stairs so they could take their pictures. My mom was having a ball and laughing, looking back up the stairs at my dad, who just shook his head and rolled his eyes. He was enjoying the moment with her. But, of course, she did not see Peck had stopped in front of her until it was too late

She plowed right into his back, and, because they were on those stairs, and she was up behind him, my mom pitched forward and started to fall right over his shoulder. Peck reached up and thankfully caught her in time before she flew over him into what could have been a very bad fall.

My mom playing a great game of tennis.

He asked if she was alright. She told him she was, and, thanked him for what he had done for her. A few minutes later, a limousine pulled up and Peck and his manager were whisked away. My dad was already rushing down the stairs to get to my mom, and, together they hurried off into the terminal. I never knew if any pictures had been taken of her with Peck. What a fun memento that would have been, but, she still had her own special moment with him.

Miss you mom. You were the best, and, thank you Gregory Peck for keeping her safe that day!

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