Is It Serendipity, Or Atavism?

What do these two men have in common?

Al Capp

Abba Eban

The gentleman on your left is Al Capp, born Alfred Gerald Caplin, and known for his comic strip creation, Lil’ Abner.  The one on your right is Abba Eban, born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban, a well-known Israeli diplomat.  What I guarantee you won’t find in Wikipedia is that these two gentlemen were cousins.  Although the familial connection between Al Capp and Abba Eban may seem obscure, you’ll discover it in a fascinating YouTube video.

Go to the 27:00 minute mark of this interview between Robert Krulwich of NPR and the celebrated author Oliver Sacks, another cousin of Abba (Aubrey) Eban, for a real treat.  Sacks and Eban, themselves first cousins on his father’s side, were invited to a large family lunch by the Capps.  They came from opposite ends of the table, making a beeline for a beet salad in the center than no one else would touch.  Eban remarked to Sacks that when he saw him approach the salad he reminded him strikingly of his grandfather, a distinguished Torah scholar, Eliyahu Z’ev (Oliver Wolf) Sacks, with whom Eban spent considerable time as a child in London.  Oliver Wolf Sacks the celebrated author indeed bears the Hebrew name Eliyahu Z’ev.

Sacks in turn told Eban that he saw more of his grandfather in him, and as they conversed more of himself in Eban than in his own siblings.  When Sacks asked Eban why this might be so, Abba simply replied “Atavism“.  A sidebar to the Krulwich interview of Sacks, but an intriguing one nonetheless.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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