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Join date : 2011-12-25
|Subject: The mechanic who almost handed the Nazis victory in WWII (and other anonymous history changers) Mon 26 Aug 2013, 13:33|| |
On December 13th 1931, while in New York and looking for the apartment block in which financier Bernard Baruch lived, Winston Churchill (just at the outset of his political "wilderness years" and with his future Nazi counterpart yet to rise to power) ordered his taxi driver to stop in the middle of 5th Avenue so he could get out and examine the nameplate on a building across the street. Momentarily forgetting he must check to his right rather than his left he stepped out into what he thought was a relatively clear gap in the traffic.
Edward Cantasano, an unemployed mechanic from Yonkers was at that moment driving at moderate speed along 5th on his way to a job interview. Approaching from the politician's right, he hit him full in his side, fracturing two ribs immediately. Despite braking violently the force of the impact sent Churchill flying. He landed heavily several yards further up the street incurring a serious scalp wound as he did so. A semi-conscious Churchill, tended by Cantasano and others who had witnessed the accident, managed to identify himself before passing out and being taken by ambulance to Lennox Hill Hospital. Interviewed by police upon regaining consciousness he acknowledged that he was entirely responsible for the incident from which he had emerged lucky to be alive at all. On hearing that a contrite Cantasano had tried to visit him nevertheless, and that the man's slim chances of finding work would be even less should he be identified as the man "who nearly killed Churchill", he also agreed to meet with the unfortunate mechanic and have their photograph taken together. He made the man a gift of an autographed copy of his book "The Unknown War" and the two parted company never to meet again. For both men the whole incident could be consigned to that list of small misfortunes life tends to throw our way.
But in historical terms how fortunate indeed! An extra few miles-per-hour on Cantasano's part; a slightly different angle of impact as the heavy-set Churchill landed on the asphalt; how many other small variables could have conspired that day to end the life of the Conservative MP for Epping? And if they had, what exactly might the ramifications have been?Churchill after his New York accident, 1931
History must be replete with incidents such as this, in which seemingly trivial events instigated, affected or resolved by otherwise anonymous people, have yet had global implications that can be readily traced.
Any you know of?