You know the game "Seven Degrees of Seperation"? You sometimes find only one or two degrees of seperation in the most unexpected of places.
Sunday, we went out to hike a trail in Cade's Cove, while here in the Smokies. It was a beautiful (and challenging) hike. It was approximately 2.5 miles in to Abram's Falls and the swimming hole, and then 2.5 miles back out. Up and down a mountainside. As we hiked, many people just passed, without so much as a word. But Gary and I always greeted them with a smile and a "Howdy!" and often I asked where they were from as well. Lots of interesting short little conversations, meeting a couple from the Phillipines, a few from Louisiana and Texas, and other various locales.
On the way back, (I was behind the rest of the group) a family began walking by me, and I greeted them. They all answered back and when I asked where they were from, a woman about 40ish responded Cincinnati, and then the older woman (her mother I was guessing) responded "Fairfield".
me: "Ahh - Ohio?" "No," the woman answered "Illinois"
And from there the conversation went like this:
me: "Illinois? Really? Fairfield,Illinois???" woman: "Yes, why?" me: "My husband's family is from southern Illinois, and his grandparents lived in Fairfield for a long time. Their last name was Osterman." woman(now with a very funny look on her face): "Did he teach in Cisne?" me(now with goosebumps on my arms): "Yes, I believe so" woman: "Sixth grade?" me: "Umm, yes, I think so." woman (now with a big grin on her face): "He was my sixth grade teacher! I loved him!"
All I could do at this point was utter a loud shriek of "Are you kidding???"
We chatted for a few more minutes about family that we had in the small towns in the area and then parted ways. She and her husband were both from that area and still lived there, while the daughter moved to Cincinnati. Her last name (before marriage) was Townes and her husband's is Johnson. And those seven degrees were never shorter than at that moment!