Six Degrees of Dorothy

Some of you know I have a fondness for Dorothys (is it Dorothies?) having yet to meet one I didn’t like. It’s just one of those names that seems to attach itself to good people. Here’s the story of my very first Dorothy encounter.

I was selling real estate in a small firm in Massachusetts back in the 80s when a new agent joined us. We introduced ourselves and the conversation went like this:

Me: Hi, Dee. Wow, you’re the third Dee I’ve met this week.

D: Yes, I’m really Dorothy, but on the plane going over to Germany after college, I decided to become Dee instead.

Me: Oh, you went to Germany after college?

D: Yes, I used to be a teacher. I taught in Army schools over there.

Me: You’re kidding. When?

D: Oh, way back in the sixties.

Me: Where?

D: (probably feeling a bit interrogated) On a small base just outside Stuttgart.

Me: You’re kidding. I went to Army school near Stuttgart in the sixties. What grade did you teach?

D: (Now surely feeling interrogated) Elementary school. On a little base called Boeblingen.

Cue the Twilight Zone music now.

download (2)

Me: You’re kidding! That’s where I went to school. Kindergarten up to fourth grade. My second and third grade teachers were Miss  Hamilton and Miss Dressel. You didn’t know them, did you?

D: Know them? They were my roommates! We were the best of friends.

Fade to Rod Serling speaking in that smoky voice of his…..we never know how we are connected, do we? 


So here’s the fun part. I went home and got these pictures for her.


I was convinced Miss Hamilton was the most beautiful creature on earth.



Here is Miss Dressel. And the soon to be General Quinn.

And she brought me black and white photos (you know the kind with the ruffled edges?) of her and the glammed-up Misses Dressel and Hamilton out partying in Germany. What I wouldn’t give to have copies of those photos right now.  Over the years, Dee had lost touch with the two ladies, so I have no idea where they might be now.

And I can’t help but wonder…..what if I hadn’t met two other Dees that very week? We wouldn’t have had this particular conversation which led to our connection. Would we ever have put two and two together?

How about you? Have you had a Six Degrees moment? Do tell!

Thanks for reading,


About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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47 Responses to Six Degrees of Dorothy

  1. srudin123 says:

    Can I just say how adorably cute and happy you look in both those photographs, especially that delightful smile on the second one. And those pigtails on pic 1 – Oh my word. Just the sweetest.


  2. When we were visiting friends in Central New York last month, I mentioned my first job was in a bank. Holly said she worked at one right across the street on the next corner. I mentioned a friend who worked there and her boss. Holly knew him and might have known my friend. Yes, Barbara, it is a small world. Your story of Six Degrees of separation was far better. 😉

    Love the photos. Where are you in the bottom photo? (Is that you in the 1st row in pigtails in the top photo?)


    • Not at all! I love hearing how we discover the connections we all have to one another. And good eye there, Judy. That is me with the pigtails. And the yellow sweater my mother made that itched. Isn’t it funny the things we remember?


  3. Not quite a six degrees moment, but similar. I met a girl in college who I had gone to preschool with. I had skipped a grade since, so was a year ahead of her, but she recognized me from across the chapel.


  4. Also, I really enjoyed this post. And, for me, “that name” has always been Elizabeth.


    • Thank you, AFG. I would be predisposed to like an Elizabeth too. There are one or two other names that have the opposite effect on me, but I won’t go there…..

      And how great that all those years later the former little preschooler recognized you!


  5. dorothy says:

    I recently was at the antique mall and recognized a girl I knew in high school. She couldn,t believe that I called her b y name. That was many years ago as you can tell because that name became obsolete long ago. Maybe the reruns of The Wizard will revive DOROTHY once again. Let’s give a cheer for all the DOROTHYS out there and for all the names that have been erased from the Book of Names.


  6. nrhatch says:

    Thanks for a wonderful share, Barbara. Amazing coincidence that you uncovered through your love of the name Dorothy.


  7. Wonderful post, Barbara! And all because of a name. I always wonder what the purpose of these moments truly mean in the big picture. 🙂


  8. Serendipitous! And all through a name!
    No such happenings for me…though a friend has e mailed me to say she met my husband’s doppelganger at her local supermarket Always thought his father got around a bit….


  9. dorothy says:

    I failed to forward the rest of my comments: THAT precious little girl on the front row named BARBARA grew up to be beautiful inside and out,


  10. Love this story, Barbara. Which one are you in the 2 pictures?
    Having lunch one day with a literary agent in the late 70s, near Gramercy Park in New York, I commented that I was about to go away for vacation. He said where are you going, in an offhand way. I said I’m going to Cape Cod. He said oh really? Where on Cape Cod? I said Brewster. He said Brewster? You go to Brewster? I said yes, I do, I have all my life. He said well I have gone to Brewster all my life too. I said no! Where in Brewster? He said my parents have a house in Brewster Park. I said well that’s where I’m from. And then I looked more carefully at him and realized that he was the little boy I had never really known but had seen frequently at the ball field, on the tennis courts or on the “little kids” raft at the beach.


    • Hello Susanne! So nice to “see” you here! OK, I am the little pig-tailed girl in the yellow sweater in the color picture, front row. In the second picture, I am third row back, fifth from the left. Peter Pan color, don’t you know.

      I love your Brewster story and the fact that had you not mentioned you were going there to this literary agent, the connection would never have been made.

      I sold a house many years ago – a quite lavish mansion actually – to a man who subsequently took a trip up to DC to visit friends. Key fact: he bought the mansion fully furnished, art and all. Anyhoo. He was showing his friends the color brochure when suddenly the wife, an artist, shrieked that she had painted the family portraits shown in the brochure. Pretty cool, huh? The family portraits didn’t convey.


  11. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, These coincidences seem to happen all the time. My last home in Ohio was a small village of about 3000 people. When I went to England, I met someone who, as it was discovered by degrees, had a good friend my street (of about 12 houses). Also, after I moved to Taiwan, I met someone who had lived on the next street over in the same village.


    • Hello Jim, nice to hear from you. I love your description of “discovering by degrees.” Not third degrees, like me? No, I’m sure you are much too nice for that.

      When I was taking Mandarin lessons here in Richmond, my Taiwanese tutor was very insistent on learning as much as possible about our Taiwanese friends….she was sure there had to be a connection and, who knows, she may be right. Barbara


  12. I knew a Dorothy who was known as Dot for many years. One day she decided that people must call her Dorothy because being called Dot made her feel insignificant and she was not!

    I competed in Oxfam Trailwalker in 2012 and while on a training run around the river, I bumped into an old friend from school whom I had long since lost contact with. We got chatting about what we’d been up to and talk turned to Trailwalker. “Oh, my sister-in-law is doing that!” my friend said. It was then the surnames hit me. My school friend’s sister-in-law was my team mate! They had married two brothers. “Yes, she is,” I said. “She’s in my team!”


    • My friend Dorothy is just that, or maybe Dorothy Jane to really old friends. Never Dot!

      Here in the South, they are less likely to abbreviate names which I really like. Your Oxfam Trailwalker story is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. You just never know.


  13. Pat S. says:

    It is uncanny, isn’t it? Your tale gives credence to Six Degrees of Separation. I have had so many similar things happen,but will mention two that stand out. When we moved to Virginia twelve years ago, we discovered that our new neighbor was from the same city in New York State; that I had attended kindergarten through high school with one of her cousins; that my husband had taught another one of her cousin’s sons and that he had worked at the same high school with that cousin. More recently, on a dinner cruise off the coast of Maui, a young man from the crew asked where we were from. When we responded, “Richmond”, he was blown away. Then he said he was from Midlothian and that his mother taught at James River high school and that he had graduated from there. Coincidentally, my husband had supervised student teachers for JMU at James River HS and had probably encountered his mother at some point along the way. Also, at a winery in HI, we met a young man who lived in our daughter’s and son-in-law’s college town; had grown up in a small town next to my college town; and had a friend who owned a restaurant that we had been to in yet another town where our other daughter attended college. My apologies for the lengthy entry and three tales instead of two, but these encounters do prompt a lot of head scratching. Just think of all the connections that have been missed along the way because of no comments about knowing Dees or inquiries about where you live.


  14. I had an amazing connection a few years ago: we drove to Minneapolis for a convention. One of the waitresses had a Caribbean accent and I asked her where she was from. she was from the same small island my ex-husband was from. So I asked her, do you know the “M… Family.” Her eyes grew big and round and she said that she had been married to one of the M…boys, an older brother of my ex-husband’s while she lived in New York City. So I met my ex-sister-in-law after we were both divorced from the two brothers we were married to, years afterwards! I never even knew about her since that particular ex-brother-in-law seems to have been married multiple times, I lost track.


    • OH MY GOSH!!! Annette, this one takes the cake. Are you kidding me? I would have had to sit down with a glass of wine and compare notes. Or maybe not, come to think of it. That is amazing, truly!!! And if you hadn’t asked about the Caribbean accent????


      • Right, we would have missed each other like two ships in the fog 🙂 Unfortunately, she was on duty and we were leaving the next day, so no chance to spend much time together. Still, it was such a sweet connection in a place where I thought I didn’t know anyone….


  15. Back again! I’ve missed you. We are moving to DE, so I do not think I will make Farmville trip. But I will be back in VA.

    I love this. Just on Facebook, somebody posted a pic of my 5th grade teacher–105th birthday. The shout-outs poured out. So many people from long ago posted their memories. Any teacher who reads this–Yes, you do matter. Every day.

    My teacher encourage my love of history, literature, and writing.

    My thanks to every K-12 teacher. I would like to see every parent walk a day in your shoes.


    • Catherine, so nice to hear from you. I have several friends who are teachers – and they tell me just how much it means to hear from former students. This is just wonderful for your 105-year-old teacher!!

      Delaware, eh? One of my BFF’s lives in Lewes. A very nice state, indeed.


  16. Correction on past tense in 3rd paragraph: “encouraged.” I do not want Mrs. Mitchell to find my blooper.


  17. Dianna says:

    Isn’t it interesting how these things happen?! We’ve had several instances like this, but, of course, at this moment, I can’t recall any of them! Fun post!


  18. Sheryl says:

    What a fun post! Sometimes things like this just seem to happen.


  19. Margie says:

    What a great story! I love the school photos – they really do look like just about any group of kids in any school during that time period.
    I met a women at a party when I lived in the Middle East. My conversation with her was pretty much like the conversation you had. I poked and prodded her to narrow down where her previous home had been in Canada, and when we finally got down to the exact location, she lived just a few miles from us!
    You used the word ‘serendipitous’, and it is moments like those, where you discover something happy by chance, that makes life so interesting. I recently renamed my blog to ‘Serendipitous’ because that really is the best description of how my day goes when I turn on my camera or sit down to write a blog post. I never know what kind of happy thing I will come across.


    • Oh, I’m glad you told me about the blog name change. The changes look great, by the way. Serendipitous discoveries are everywhere it seems, if you just pay attention. And poke and prod enough! Thank you, Margie.


  20. suzicate says:

    I love when that happens! Recently, the hubby and I met a blogging friend and her hubby whom we’ve never met. While out we came upon mutual acquaintances and while talking found we knew several of the same people, including relatives!


    • I am starting to believe that if we ask enough questions, we’ll find that “six degrees or less” connection with anybody! I’m enjoying meeting my blogging friends too – only two so far – and there seem to be a lot of us VA girls in the blogosphere!


  21. markbialczak says:

    I agree. You would never have put it together if not for that timing, Barbara. I am a fan of the … cue it … doo-doo-doo-doo — moments.


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