A relative achievement

Spencer Lehman. At age 75, a U.S. national champion pole-vaulter. My favorite uncle.

Mother’s brother, for you Norwegian-speakers (update: I misremembered, it turns out to be Swedish that distinguishes ‘morbror’ from ‘farbror’). And you know that archetype of the Malibu-dwelling hippie stockbroker that shows up in comic novels about California? That would be him.

Categorized as General


  1. The man is another reason to be thankful on today’s holiday. He’s yet another wonderful part of the universe we all share. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  2. That’s the Swedes, Eric. Norwegians say “onkel” for uncle, and “tante” for aunt.

  3. @esr – there seems to be some weird bug/feature where putting a URL in the comment forces the beginning of the line with the URL to be tab-separated instead of space-separated. I saw this in my last comment as well as comments on the Climategate2 thread.

  4. You don’t talk a whole lot about your family in your writings, ESR. Are the majority of them all anywhere near as interesting as your uncle?

    1. >Are the majority of them all anywhere near as interesting as your uncle?

      Well, one of my sisters is spending her Christmas on safari in the Serengeti Plain. My other close relatives…depends on what you find interesting. I will say this: my mother and all four siblings are all bright enough that I’d find them interesting even if they weren’t my relatives, and all of them have fought for careers in demanding fields. One brother is a commercial artist in New York City, another a partner at an architectural firm; one sister teaches English in hardship country overseas and another was a successful entrepreneur in – of all things – the artificial-flower business.

      Probably the common pattern of interest to most people here is that we’re all either engineers who think like artists or artists who think like engineers. That seems to have been a source of power for every one of us, in various ways.

  5. For those of you who haven’t tried pole vaulting. It’s unbelievably difficult. Very nice technique your “morbror” has.
    @Håvard: What? Norway dropped “moster”, “faster”, “morbror” og “farbror”? We still have those in Denmark. Should never have granted you independence ;-)
    For those of you who don’t know:
    moster = mothers sister, faster = fathers sister … you get the idea.
    Uncle/Onkel is so vauge ie. Uncle/Onkel = farbror | morbror | mosters spouse | fasters spouse, it’s nice to be able to make the distinction quickly when required.

  6. Fascinating…

    As an aging jock of limited skill but dogged perseverance I find it VERY interesting to consider pole vaulting.

    Do you know how your uncle made this choice?
    What did he do to learn this skill?

    @ Jan H. Hansen – You’re right, that is nice technique.

  7. Jill ( my wife) and I were friends and fellow stockbrokers with Spence in the early seventies. Worked for McDonnell and Co. Just before it went bankrupt. Was it us? Would love to reconnect with him. We live in Connecticut now and are coming up on our 50th anniversary in August.

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