Knowing Famous People

I would bet that more “everyday” people have a connection to famous person than one might realize. After all, most famous people attend high school and college. They grow up somewhere, play recreation soccer, work at McDonald’s during a summer or two. A guy who was a year behind me at Loch Raven High School, John Kassir, went into acting, and is perhaps most famous as the voice of the Cryptkeeper, and Meeko in Pocahontas. He also won the 1985 Star Search competition for best comedian, beating out both Rosie O’Donnell and Sinbad. In fact, he has a very impressive list of television, film, animation, and video game credits. My personal connection to John is that we ran one year of indoor track together.

And then, there was Ana Montes, who graduated with me in the Class of 1975.

She is one of the most famous—or more accurately, infamous—people, about whom you have never heard, despite the fact that a book has been written about her, the title of which will tell you all you need to know: True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy. Author Scott Carmichael was the lead investigator into Ana’s activities at the Defense Intelligence Agency, activities which included sharing American secrets with Castro and misleading American intelligence regarding Cuban activities. According to the book’s summary on Amazon, “When she was finally arrested in September 2001, she became the most senior American intelligence official ever accused of operating as a Cuban spy from within the federal U.S. government.”

Ana Montes is currently serving 25 years at a Federal Penitentiary in Texas, although her crimes were so serious that she could have been sentenced to death.

One very big reason that you probably have never heard of Miss Montes is that her arrest came 10 days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. In fact, it’s only been fairly recently that I heard about her traitorous activity, and only then as part of a Facebook discussion about people who attended Loch Raven High School. I don’t remember her at all, although the chances are strong that we had at least a couple of classes together, but there she is in my high school yearbook; a future Cuban spy whose “favorites” included summer, chocolate chip cookies, and having a good time with funny people. How did Ana Montes go from being such a typical high school girl to a Cuban spy? The same way the rest of us got from high school to wherever we are now I guess—a few big choices with many, many little choices along the way.

Who are the famous people in your lives?

About Austin Gisriel

You know the guy that records a baseball game from the West Coast in July and doesn't watch it until January just to see baseball in the winter? That's me. I'm a writer always in search of a good story, baseball or otherwise.
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8 Responses to Knowing Famous People

  1. Shea Steele says:

    You know me


  2. Dick Snyder says:

    I became (and still am) very good friends with a young pitcher then in the Baltimore Orioles organization. We continue to be in contact with each other even though he is about to be enshrined withthe highest honor any professional athlete could ever achieve! Even though he’s a very down to earth kind of guy, he has never forgotten his “roots” (and my Mom’s slippery pot pie) here in Hagerstown. I’m not a name dropper . . . . .


    • Give my best to Mike, but don’t tell him that my wife never forgave him for going to the Yankees, lol. He certainly said some very gracious things during his big moment in January.


  3. Jerry says:

    While I am absolutely certain there are many many famous folk who have crossed my path, there are only two that I can positively identify, one of whom is probably more famous than the other. I am sure that you and Al will recognize them. In my far distant youth I had the missforutune to compete against Bill Freehan and Hal Lanier in HS and Pony League baseball. It’s slightly possible that Bill might recall my name as we lived close enough together that we saw each other on local playground diamonds. He was a BEAST in HS!


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