by Jennifer K. Bauer
“Luke Skywalker was my baby sitter,” said Suzie Corbitt, 49.
Mark Hamill, 61, wasn’t yet a famous jedi when Corbitt met him decades ago.
In the early 1970s, Corbitt and Hamill both lived on a U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, where their fathers were stationed. It was a small, close-knit community and everybody knew each other, Corbitt remembers. She was around age 5 or 6. The Vietnam War was raging. All too often, military officers came to notify families of deaths. Hamill and Corbitt’s older sister were tasked with watching the younger children so all the mothers could gather to console the bereaved.
It was scary for the kids because each wondered if this time it was their dad who had died, Corbitt recalls. Hamill quickly shooed away their fears.
“He’d entertain us and joke around. He would make sure we were all laughing pretty quick,” she said. “He never treated us like stupid kids.”
Hamill was in high school at the time. The next time Corbitt remembers seeing him was in San Diego where her father and Hamill’s family were later stationed. She was at a production of “The Wizard of Oz” at Serra High School when suddenly the audience was full of noise. She turned around to see what was happening and found Hamill sitting behind her. He’d come to see his brother who was playing the munchkin mayor.
Hamill shouted her name and picked her up and gave her a hug, she said. She asked him what happened to his face, now scarred by a motorcycle accident. The “Star Wars” films “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” were out and breaking movie history but Corbitt hadn’t heard of them.
“No one took me to the movies,” she said, with a shrug. “The next day I was the most popular kid in school. I had no idea why. Kids just kept saying, ‘You know Luke Skywalker.’ ”
In 1983 she finally saw “Star Wars” and realized how famous Hamill was.
Corbitt, a Lewiston homemaker, is a fan of the films and said she made sure her two children, ages 14 and 16, are too.
She remembers watching her son play with Luke Skywalker action figures when he was little and thinking how weird it was.
“That this guy is going to be so famous that your little boy is going to play with his toys,” she thought about the twisting paths of life.
She’s very happy for Hamill and his success. When she sees him speak in interviews she sees and hears the same down-to-Earth guy she remembers. She’s planning on seeing “The Force Awakens” but she’ll wait until the lines die down.
“I just think it’s so funny,” she said. “I know if he saw me again he would remember.”