Every town has had its moment in history where it seemed the whole world was looking at it. Ours was not the day General Israel Putnam scampered off in flight to escape the oncoming British forces, despite what the seals says, nor was it when a man from a neighboring town put his foot on some prime Greenwich sand. In my opinion, at least in sports, it occurred back in the 1976 Winter Olympics when Dorothy Hamill took home the gold medal for figure skating. Here’s an example of her winning performances:
Pretty wild, don’t you think? Not one triple jump. Technically and physically, this would be fairly straightfoward stuff by today’s standards, but back then it was commonplace. In fact, Hamill would go on to be the last skater to win an Olympic gold without attempting the triple jump. But more than that, she really looked good too. She was tremendously graceful, which was one of her greatest virtues.
Of course, as a 9-year-old, I can’t say that that was my opinion. I don’t even recall watching those two historic minutes. Why would I? It was figure skating. But I do remember watching her car sail down Greenwich Avenue as we celebrated a good old-fashioned welcoming parade. It could not have been more wholesome and more middle America. Greenwich, at least for a few hours, stopped being one of the wealthiest town’s in the country, and enjoyed being the home to a shy and pretty girl who took the world by surprise.
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My little sister, Katy, who was 6 at the time, presented her with some kind of a gift at the ceremony at her skating rink. Dorothy gave her a little peck on the cheek. Big day in our family.