“Six Degrees of Separation” Pared Down to Two

(All that’s left of the bridge that spanned the river to Oresman Bros.)

“We’re ALL Closer Than We Think”

Another term for it is the Small World Theory. It rests on the premise that if one were to send a package to a stranger across the country, via people (instead of Fed Ex, UPS, USPS, etc.), it would take between 5 and 7 individuals to get it there, rather than hundreds.

Oh, the sender could know the name, occupation, and general location of the recipient but that was all. He would need to choose his person based on his suspicion the intermediary might know the recipient and he had to know the intermediary on a first-name basis. The end-result? It took between 5-7 persons to get the package from first sender to receiver…always.

It’s a popular theory that a book, computer games, plays, and websites have been modeled on.  Simply put:   There are only –ever–six degrees (or people) separating us from one another.  

But that theory never affected my world……. until now.

Recently, I got an e-mail from Patricia Bayles Toth, a woman in New Jersey who purchased 2 Christmas stockings at a yard sale in her neighborhood. They looked like vintage 60’s, had an Oresman Bros. tag inside, and sported an image of Santa on the red plush fabric.

That tag prompted her to sleuth. She put the company name in her computer browser, along with “Christmas stockings.” And lo and behold, a newspaper story I’d written two years ago, popped up in the list of entries. She clicked on it and read.

In “Christmas Lessons from the Factory and Post Office,” I mention the fact that all people don’t share the same zeal for the Christmas season.  I relate my own experience as piece worker in a Christmas stocking factory, coming home from long days at the mill, with red plush (from Christmas stockings) lodged in the creases of my hands.

After reading my story, the New Jersey woman plugged my name into Facebook (my name’s pretty unique) and e-mailed me a message, explaining how she’d come by the stockings, asking if I knew details about them and the factory:  “How old are they?” and “Is the mill still in operation?

I e-mailed her back, telling her the year I worked at the mill and told her, too, that the only remains of the factory are a vacant building, scattered brick debris, a bell tower, nearby, and the memories of those who worked there.  Then, too, there are these various Christmas artifacts that turn up now and then, in yard sales, across America.

I offered, too, that I very well may have screen-printed that Santa image on her stockings—especially if it’s fuzzy and imperfect, because I held that position for a short while. Mill management elevated me to it but busted me back to piecework, when they discovered I couldn’t get the transfers right.

I’m pretty sure, however, that some of my creations missed the cutting table.

At that, we ended our “conversation,” but I sat, in amazement. The stranger in New Jersey had connected with me, another stranger who used to work at Oresman Bros., almost 50 years ago……in 2 steps.  She did it using the powerhouse clout of the world wide web and Facebook.

Biddy intends to master this new technology (or at least get passable skill with it) so she, too, can ride the wave….This blog is her start.

For story “Christmas Lessons From Factory and US Mail” that generated above, click on the following link (or cut and paste it into your browser):

http://www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/CT_mellorfix_12-28-08_5PCPCJI_v5.c672f1.html

(Nearby remains of decaying brick walls and tower, aside the Christmas factory; photos by CKMellor)

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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