6 Degrees of Connection to John Stamos
Sometimes I find myself getting lost in all the research I do with my family tree. For some reason I have a great capacity for remembering names of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of relatives that I have added to my tree. This is amazing only because I can forget someone's name when they are introduced to me in person faster than you can say "forget"!
Such was the case when I was filling in names of distant family members last night when I came across the surname "Howland". The name rang a bell for me and, sure enough, the bell went off for good reason. Howland is the surname of one of the original Mayflower descendants - John Howland to be exact. He was the 2nd of 2 Mayflower passengers that I ran across on the same branch of the family, with the other being William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony.
Both Bradford and Howland had certain degrees of separation from me. In the case of William Bradford, he married Alice Southworth (nee Carpenter) the widow of my 5th cousin, Edward Southworth. Edward and Alice had 2 sons, Constant and Thomas, before he died, and with Bradford Alice had 3 children (William, Mercy and Joseph).
Another Southworth cousin, Elizabeth (who was the daughter of Thomas, one of Alice and Edward's 2 sons) married Captain Joseph Howland, son of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley., 2 more of the original Mayflower passengers (Elizabeth's parents, aunt and uncle all died during that infamous first winter in the New World, leaving Elizabeth an orphan.
Why does any of this matter? Well, from a historical standpoint I find this to be of great interest on the surface alone, but on a more personal level, it provides me with another "6 degrees of separation" moment to another Hollywood celebrity that I admire: John Stamos.
While John Stamos is not a direct relative of mine (at least from what I have discovered thus far), John Howland was John Stamos' 11th Great Grandfather on his maternal side of the family. This means that some of my distant cousins are also distant cousins of John, so there is the 6 degrees of separation factor.
What makes this important to me is that I, and a few other members of my "extended" family (very close family friends that, while not related to me by blood, are still family to me) were the recipients of some very kind actions from John way back in 1984. The previous year, on October 28th, 1983, a good family friend and 2 of her 3 daughters were returning from picking up dinner when they were hit head-on by a drunk driver. The resulting crash took the life of our friend, Jackie, injured her youngest daughter Jennifer, and left my other "cousin", Melissa, with a fractured back leaving her a paraplegic. Missy's twin sister, Michelle (Shelly) was at home with her father at the time of the accident. t was a horrible day for our family and extended family, and one that none of us will ever forget.
It was the following year that I found out that John Stamos would be making an appearance at a local auto show in Toronto. I remembered the girls saying that they used to watch the soap opera "General Hospital" on TV with their mother. I knew very little about John Stamos at the time, but it was advertised that General Hospital star John Stamos was putting in an appearance so I went to work. I was determined to at least try to get the girls a signed autograph from Mr. Stamos, but what I ended up with was so much more.
While I now may write about celebrities in my family, back in 1984 I was just another teenager and the idea of trying to contact a celebrity of any kind never occurred to me. However, I went to work trying to figure out how to get the girls his autograph. I wasn't (and still am not) the type of person to ask anyone, let alone a celebrity, for their autograph so standing in line with hundreds of crazy fans wasn't my thing. I decided to try my luck with contacting a local radio station that was promoting the auto show (CHUM for fellow Torontonians!). I got very lucky and the receptionist took down my details and shortly after I was called back by a lady (I forget her name) who handled public relations. When I explained what I was trying to do, she said that she would try to help me out.
A couple of days later I got a return phone call from the lady at the radio station and she said that she spoke to John Stamo's manager and that John was sending her signed photos for me to pick up. When I went to the radio station to pick up the autographed photos, she asked me for the telephone number of my cousins - John Stamos wanted to call them directly and speak to them, which he did. It was amazing how John's phone call to the girls gave them all a sense of hope and excitement during a very dark period in their lives. John even told the girls that he was going to visit them at their house (he never did, of course) which gave them even more hope and happiness.
While this may seem like a minor act of kindness, I don't think that it was. Having a celebrity reach out to 3 girls who really needed cheering up was a big thing. John wasn't as big a star back in 1984 as he would later become, but he was still a busy celebrity. This simple act of kindness for people that he had never even met has always meant a lot to me, and to my cousins.
So...this is why I am excited to at least find a tenuous link between my family and John Stamos. Even without a link in a family tree though, John Stamos will always be considered family by me and my cousins.