A chance meeting in November in a New Jersey rest stop parking lot between two Mainers — one a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and the other a shipwreck buff — led them to bond over an Italian liner that sank 55 years ago.
Bob Wallace, 75, of Penobscot, who retired in 1973 after a 20-year Coast Guard career, saw another driver getting out of a car with a Maine license plate. The two struck up a conversation.
The other Mainer, Richard Glueck of Winterport, noticed a Coast Guard decal on Wallace’s truck, which led to a discussion of Wallace’s career.
One of Wallace’s most important memories, he said Thursday, was the morning of July 26, 1956, when the 80-foot Coast Guard cutter he was on, the Evergreen, responded to calls that the Andrea Doria of the Italian Line had been rammed by the Swedish liner Stockholm late the previous night off Nantucket, Mass.
“[Glueck] happened to be an Andrea Doria buff who was just 6 years old when it happened,” Wallace said.
When the Evergreen, which had been pulled from oceanographic research to help with the rescue effort, arrived at the wreck site, Wallace grabbed a camera and snapped pictures as the Andrea Doria slipped beneath the waves.