Monday, September 13, 2010
Shocking Mishap Leads Man To Find Higher Power
Electrician's Brush With Death Brings Happy Ending
9.13.2010 by Winsip Custer CPW News Service
His fleet of white Ford vans parked on Morgan Street in Cleveland, says it all...."Higher Power Electric: A Connected Electrician". But he hasn't always been an electrician.
"No, I was a nuclear physicist. My father worked on Fat Man and Little Boy, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, at Los Alamos and he use to tell me about the crazy parties with J Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves. The guys would dress in drag and sing 'Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey: A kiddley divey too, wouldn' t you?' Wasn't much to do out there in the desert you know. The wives would applaud and laugh 'til they couldn't stand up. After the war Dad went off with George Winfield who had worked on Fat Man's detonator after a forced transfer from Little Boy and a failed experiment of some kind and Mom? She was never the same, lost herself at the Synagogue," said Friesberg.
Not too much unlike his father, Freisberg had designed nuclear reactors for the U.S. Navy and even served as a consultant on the small reactor used by the Soviets in the MIR Space Station. That was before January 2nd, 1985 when he was replacing a ballast on a faulty kitchen light for his wife. "She always said I was a klutz. Two left hands and all thumbs. I stuck the screwdriver into the switch box and 'pow'. I saw stars. My hair was frizzeled for a week and my toes didn't uncurl for ten days, but it was the accident that changed my life."
Freisberg had been reading about J Robert Oppenheimer's take on Albert Einstein at the time of the accident.
"Yea, well, J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project and author of the book explained how late in Einstein's life... in relation to his growing despair over the weapons of death and destruction he helped create.... atomic bombs... Einstein said that if he had it to do over again he would have been a plumber. When I stuck the screw drive in the switch box I remember thinking 'does that mean that the most celebrated scientist of our time and the current icon of the science timeline's evolution saw something of science in the plumber's vocation? We do not talk of a 'science of plumbing' but clearly there is science associated with it...pressure gauges, flow rate formulas, verifiable effects of its practice on health and sanitation. The same could be said of electricians, but we hardly ever refer to the science of plumbing or the science of electricians yet they incorporate in their work the products of pure science's ever expanding body of knowledge," said Friesberg who continued...
"I was jiggling the screwdriver thinking about Oppenheimer saying that there was a balance in Einstein's life and remembering reading the words that... 'This was a balance of seriousness and jest that no one should now attempt to disturb. Believe me, he had no idea of what it was to be a plumber; least of all in the United States, where we have a joke that the typical behavior of this specialist is that he never brings his tools to the scene of the crisis.' Like the plumber who cannot deliver the amalgamated core of his expertise to a crisis I stuck the wrong tool into that switch box. I shouldn't have used the screwdriver. A pair of rubber handled needle nose pliers were called for, not a screwdriver," said Freisberg.
"But out of our flawed humanity can come good things. This mistake was a turning point. It was like the Titanic running into that iceberg and going down, only in this case I was lifted up by a warming of my heart that I had never experienced and by a melting of a filling in a bicuspid that needed replacing anyway."
After the accident, Freisberg immediately enrolled in Bible classes at the local Episcopal Church, then joined a nearby Lutheran Church. "They were only two blocks from the house," he said. The next August he enrolled in the Lutheran Seminary in nearby Cottagefield, Ohio and simultaneously started his training with Local 554 of the Ohio United Electrian's Union.
"My wife lasted two months into the fall semister," said Freisberg, whose wife Ruth was the daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi from Cleveland. "After the accident we didn't see eye to eye anymore," said Friesberg, "but I did finish the job and put in a nice bank of brighter lights in her kitchen. And the kids? Gerald became a Yoga instructor in Santa Barbara and Sue is still trying to find herself. I prayer for them every day."
It would take another three years for Freisberg to finish seminary during which time he met Rachael Weber, a second year or 'Middler' student from Elkhart, Indiana. Rachael had also converted to Christianity from Judaism. "My story's a little different, but still similar. A dangerous drain cover in our family spa held me underwater for four minutes and when they finally got me loose I was a different person. It was like I had been washed anew, baptized in an entirely different perspective and I saw the same person that Karl describes seeing when the smoke cleared in his kitchen. It was Jesus," she said and "Life is good."
When asked what two Jewish converts to Christianity think about the Florida pastor who proposed burning the Koran on September 11th, Rachael Freisberg said "that would break Sue's heart. She studying the Koran at the Mosque in Cincinnati and loves wearing a burka especially when she's at the grocery store. She's a little overweight, you know," said Rachael, "and a little withdrawn. We've been praying about that, too," she concluded as Karl answered a call from his office, got in his van and drove away. "And your daughter see's something in Islam that will help her self-esteem?" I asked.
"Yes," said Rachael, "a fine young man from Yemen who is studying Nuclear Physics at Cincinnati University," said Rachael Friesberg.