Talking tall

Bob Huggett, Sacramento Tall Club member


Not only is there such a thing as the Sacramento Tall Club, but with nearly 90 members, the local chapter is among the largest under the national umbrella of Tall Clubs International. The social organization for those of above-average height was founded in 1938 by a 6-foot-2-inch Californian named Katherine Ruth “Kae” Sumner Einfeldt (who, interestingly, was an animator for Walt Disney Productions’ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). Today, there are about 50 such groups throughout the United States. The Sacramento chapter’s former president and current publicist Bob Huggett, a 6-foot-7-inch chief engineer at the California Department of General Services, recently dished about what it’s like to be vertically gifted.

At what age did you get really tall?

I don’t think I really got tall until maybe the middle of high school. I was tall before then, but that’s when I really started paying attention to it.

Did you play basketball in high school?

I was a wrestler. I followed my brothers into wrestling; and I liked wrestling. I never played basketball until a church league after high school.

Advantages and disadvantages of being tall?

Well, advantages are, of course, being above the others, [but] you’re always looked at a little bit differently when you’re tall. I spent a couple weeks in Bogotá, Colombia, about 40 years ago, and everybody else was pretty [short], and so you’re kind of an oddity down there. I obviously enjoy being tall; it’s got nice advantages that other people don’t get.

Are you envious of short people in certain situations?

Yes, there are certain conditions when, yeah, you wish your legs weren’t quite as long, so they could fit in the seat. Not every place is built for tall people. Not every airplane I get in has enough headroom and legroom and all that stuff. I got on a plane not too long ago, [and] I couldn’t stand up straight.

When did you get involved in the Sacramento Tall Club?

I’m not sure exactly when I found out about it. I think I’d heard it mentioned a few times, and they sent me out a newsletter. [The club does] a lot of TGIFs—a lot of Friday after-work get-togethers, and I went to one of those, and I really enjoyed myself. And I got invited to an ice-cream social the next night, and it just kind of took off from there. At that ice-cream social, the vice president was very nice and sat down next to me, and we eventually got married. We met at the Tall Club. That doesn’t happen very often, [though].

Did she rope you into being the publicist?

That [happened a] long [time] beyond that. We [were] involved in the Tall Club for a number of years. We got married, went and had kids, kind of dropped out of the club for a few years, and about seven or eight years ago, we finally got back into it again. I took over as vice president, and I was president of the club for a few years. And after president, I went back down to publicity.

If someone has a spouse that’s under the height cutoff for the club—6’2” for men and 5’10” for women—can they bring them to a meeting?

Yeah, we have a few—what’s the term—“associate” members. So we don’t look down on them too much.

Who’s the tallest person in the club?

I think we have a 6’8” guy in our club. In the national [level], I know we have a 7’4” gentleman out of Milwaukee, and a 6’10” woman out of Phoenix. As for the local club, I’m not sure who the tallest woman would be; maybe about 6’5” [or] 6’6”.

Is there a personality trait that’s linked to being tall?

I don’t think so. I mean, we’re just normal people. Without the height, we’re just normal people, and there’s nothing really different about us. In the club, that’s really the only common trait we have: We’re all tall.

Is it strictly a networking club? Do you do any advocacy work to lobby car manufacturers or anything?

Tall Clubs International has [endorsed] California king beds and also tilt steering. A number of us went to Chicago a few weeks ago, [and] some people on the national level were able to work out a deal with Ford Motor Company. And they brought out one of their vehicles, the Transit Connect—which is already like a service vehicle—a small van they’re trying to convert into more of a passenger vehicle. They had a lot of us sit in it, and it had a lot of legroom and headroom. One of the ways they’re marketing this vehicle is for the vertically gifted, so they took a lot of pictures of us, and the international organization is actually endorsing the vehicle. We had our 7’4” guy in there checking out the legroom and stuff. It was actually quite roomy.