8-22-2012 (Originally posted 3-7-2012)
During the past several weeks “short subjects” have been playing in the movie theater of my mind. While everyone around me believed I was engaged in the moment, I have been “off” on a vacation of sorts. With an unlimited ticket, I have been traveling through sixty years of my life’s archives, and feeling no guilt for being gone so long. These unending life clips have been a source for reflection, and entertainment as well.
On March twelfth I turn the page, and begin a new chapter in my life, “The Sixties.” I join the others, who have crossed into this decade asking–“Where has the time gone?” I may look differently, but my inner child still holds the *magic* of an active imagination, and a desire to follow my “yellow brick road.” My resent trips have required no baggage, and each stop has fed my soul, or tickled my funny bone. I am giving you each a ticket now; it is stamped “1956.”
On this journey there is a spunky adventurous four year old living in a black and white world. Yes, photos at this time captured our precious moments without the fairy dust of color, allowing imagination to pick from its palette. On this particular day all the neighborhood kids heard the buzz, and curiosity drew them towards our house. Buck Rogers was the television space hero of the times, but today I would wander space. I was headed to the moon.
My brother, my mentor, had the delicious idea that my tiny feet, that were fitted with well worn red Keds, should be the first to kick around the moon dust. As for me, the pioneering spirit must have run through my veins, because there was NO thoughts of fear. The possibility of swinging on a star trumped everything. As the word spread the “alley way” behind our house filled with young spectators. All were in awe of my “heavenly” journey, and I felt like a star.
In my four year old head, the moon, and all the twinkling wonders along the way, captivated my imagination, and blinded me to any dangers. Yes, the first space traveler would be from GlendalePennsylvania, and she only had two questions.
“Would my mom and dad see me waving from the moon?” And…
“Would the moon children play with me?”
As my brother and his elite sophisticated bunch of neighborhood nerds constructed my space craft, I stood patiently. In my eyes, these young men, age eight, were the “all knowing.” To be asked to spend time with them was an honor, and to be chosen for this major event in my little world, made me feel like “Queen for a Day.” My brother always had the most creative ideas…yep…I idolized him.
As the kids made their way to the “launch sight”, they handed over a nickel to one of the launch team members. They were then directed to the best tree limb for viewing this historic event, this “neighborhood spectacle.” With great care these space aces assembled my craft. Its basic structure was a wooden crate from my father’s store. I thought it “true genius” to use this strong crate, that was once used to store apples. The control panel consisted of a rusty steering wheel from an old kiddy car, and the knobs were from old television sets and radios. Making it look more official were gages from an old furnace and a couple of used thermometers. Also attached was a side view mirror, so I could see earth as I raced to the moon. It was a sight to behold!
Before I started to say my good-byes, my brother ran off for the final touches. He returned shortly with a pillow for me to sit on, my dad’s belt to strap me in, and a brown bag with Fig Newton’s, Oreo Cookies, Bazooka Bubble Gum and a jar of water. I was real impressed with him now! As for the craft, he brought the remaining pieces to make this flight possible. With their keen know how “the elite” attached a car antenna, and hammered two rusted exhaust pipes to each side of my space vehicle. I was in complete awe, and a Hershey Bar high could not touch my “wonder buzz.” It was launch time, and I was proud and prepared.
The kids were yelling, “Good-bye!” and “Good luck.” I fearlessly stepped in and was handed an old football helmet that looked like it already traveled to the moon and back. Along with my dad’s belt, I felt safe. Before putting on my helmet, the launch crew stuffed the rusted pipes with Kleenex tissue, and got the matches ready to ignite this powerful fuel. Then, my helmet was secured, and we saluted each other.
I sat with my big eyes looking toward the heavens, and all the laundry on the neighboring clothes lines. As I clutched the wheel, I listened to the crowd counting down.
“10-9-8-7-match lit-6-5-4-tissue lit-3-2-1 BLAST OFF!”
I could smell the tissue burning and anticipated the “thrust” of the space bound ship. I was a kid ready for an adventure, and thrilled to be chosen. But, at the peak of all the excitement, there was no thrust, there was no noise, it did not move. The flames from the tissue turned into a light smoke; the launch failed. My “elite” group stood perplexed, and the crowd started to jeer. Embarrassment and my disappointment erased my wonderment; I started to cry. In my mind, the imaginative mind of a four year old, it was real. Playing amongst the stars and moon children, all of it was real.
If I had a black and white photo, it would look like a shot from the old “Our Gang” show. My brother and I laugh when we recall “the launch.” With clarity after fifty six years, we can slip back in time and remember the details as well as the disappointment. They were simple times, times of innocents, times that “playing amongst the stars” was possible because we believed we could.