Sunday, September 24, 2006

Who's Robert Ken Woo?

The 300 millionth American will be born sometime in October, after which Robert Ken Woo, Jr., will once again fade into obscurity.

When Woo was born Nov. 20, 1967, at 11:03 a.m. EST in Atlanta's Crawford Long Hospital, Life magazine proclaimed him the 200 millionth American. In the years since, he has worn his footnote in history lightly and well, his flicker of fame fanned anew by the approaching milestone.

"I never took it that seriously," Woo says of his place in the annals of American trivia. "To me it seemed very random."
Back in 1967, the Census Bureau projected that the 200 millionth American would arrive between 10:58 and 11:02 a.m. the Monday before Thanksgiving. Life, then America's iconic photo magazine and today a weekend newspaper supplement, dispatched 23 photographer-reporter teams to hospitals in 22 cities, ready to capture the birth that came closest to the appointed time.

In Miami, a physician pleaded with his patient, "Push harder -- and you'll be in Life magazine." In Boston, a doctor arranged to deliver a baby by Caesarean section precisely at 11. But census officials stopped the clock for three minutes so President Johnson would be at the ceremony when it hit 200,000,000. Sally Woo awoke after delivery to snapping photographers. [Link]

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