By John Schwarz

Every now and then you learn something that absolutely flabbergasts you. It happened to me last Sunday. Anita and I have a large family: two daughters, three sons, nine grandsons, and nine granddaughters. Quite a few were at our home that day. I was busy making vanilla frosties and serving them Oreos. When two of the girls, identical twins, had to go home, I volunteered to drive them the mile and a half to their house. On the way, I asked them if there were any other sets of twins in their school. The answer I expected didn’t come back to me. “There are four sets, Pa,” replied one of my granddaughters. (I’m Pa if you were wondering.)

I almost swerved off of North Street. “You’re telling me there are four sets of twins at Sacred Heart?”

“No Pa, there are four sets of twins in the sixth grade.”

I assumed they were kidding around with me, but they stubbornly maintained that they were telling the truth. I couldn’t wait until Monday morning so I could call the school and confirm that Madeline and Sabrina were the only twins at Sacred Heart. The person I spoke to said graciously, “Your granddaughters are right, Mr. Schwarz. There are indeed four sets of twins in the sixth grade.” Shaken, I thanked her and hung up.

I should have asked her how many sets of twins there were in the whole school. With four in the sixth grade, for all I know there are 50 sets at Sacred Heart!

What is going on here? I grew up in Garden City, a beautiful town on Long Island. I graduated from St. Joseph’s parochial school. Total number of sets of twins at St. Joseph’s? Zero. From there, I went to Chaminade High School. Any twins at Chaminade? None. But I then went to Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There were two brothers there who were twins. After graduating from Lawrenceville I spent four wonderful years at Duke University in North Carolina. Any sign of twins. Again, none!

For that matter, I’m not sure there were any in the state of North Carolina!

Adding it all up, between kindergarten and my senior year at Duke I crossed paths with thousands of students. After 17 years, I encountered one set of twins — and then I learn there are four sets in the sixth grade at Sacred Heart in Greenwich.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get over this shock.

The take-away from the experience is two-fold: 1) Be sure to ask your grandchildren questions; and be prepared for some of the answers to floor you. 2) I have known for some time that there have been tremendous changes during my lifetime. Television, followed by color television, man landing on the moon, ice boxes being replaced by refrigerators, night baseball, some people driving golf balls 350 yards.

But an epidemic of twins?