It is a small world after all

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

It is a small world isn't it? That came home to me a few days ago when my phone rang just after lunch. I said hello and heard a friendly voice on the other end.

"Can I speak with Nancy Blackmon?" said the deep voice.

"This is she," I answered.

The man told me who he was and proceeded to explain his call and how he found me.

"My name is Bob Russell," he said. "I live in Birmingham."

Since his name didn't ring a bell, I waited to hear exactly why he was calling me from Birmingham.

"My son sent me a copy of a column you wrote for the Andalusia Star-News," he said. "I'll bet you didn't know what you wrote had an Andalusia connection." (I'm not quite clear on how his son got a copy of the column).

He explained that his son is Scott Russell, father of the family featured on an episode of a National Geographic show.

The bell went off in my head and I remembered the column. The Russell family from Birmingham was in the premiere of "Worlds Apart," a reality show that takes American families to remote cultures so they can experience a lifestyle that is different from the way they live.

In the first show, "Birmingham, AL meets Ghana," the Russell family went to the village of Longo in Ghana, a country located on the inner crook of Africa.

Scott Russell, a financial adviser, his wife, Lynne, a volunteer director for a marathon; their son R.J., who is 15 and daughter, Alex, 12, stayed with the Bawa family, a member of the Frafra tribe.

I found out about the show because the National Geographic channel sent me a press kit. A year or so ago, I wrote a story about one of their reporters, Tom Foreman, who graduated from Opp High School. Since that time, I get information if there is anything coming on the channel that has an Alabama connection.

When I received the information about the family from Birmingham, I thought it was interesting and wrote about it in my column.

Now, back

to my conversation with Bob Russell and the Andalusia connection to the story.

"We lived Andalusia," he said. "My mother was Grace Larson who owned the Gable's."

"I knew your mother," I said. "I met Grace when I first went to work at the Star-News in the late 1980s. I remember her well."

He went on to tell me about a trip his family made back to Andalusia when the First Methodist Church celebrated its 75th anniversary several years ago. They were members of the church when they lived here.

And Mr. Russell's mother wasn't the only link to Covington County.

"My son's other grandmother was Ruby Fay Foshee from Red Level," he said. "We still know folks down there."

I asked him about his son's trip to Africa and he told me how much was involved with filming the show.

"I wish I'd known about the Andalusia connection when I wrote the column," I said. "I would have put it in because I think people would have been interested."

As I hung up, I thought about the coincidences that led to the phone call.

National Geographic took the Russells to Africa and in a round about way that brought them back to Andalusia where the family started.

Now if that doesn't make this a small world Š