Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rocket man: memoir 7

Friendship 7, blast off!
On February 20, 1962 astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. The principal in our elementary school planned an assembly so we kids could share this phenomenal moment in history.  Already the Russians had beat us by ten months.
     The day was foggy as we filed out of our classrooms. We crossed the asphalt playground painted with yellow lines for hopscotch and tetherball, then into the cafeteria where we sat at the tables. Everyone stared up at a speaker high in a corner, which blasted static and voices from NASA's mission control. Even the kitchen ladies stopped to listen. An aroma of spaghetti and garlic bread meant a good lunch awaited us.
     The survival gear in Friendship 7 fascinated us. It included a raft, signal mirrors, and most tantalizing to me, a shark chaser, whatever that was. I was ten. Of course I imagined a morbid ending so I wrote a story for our teacher titled, "Death in Space:"
     As the large craft with a crew of six men and three women entered the perpetual vacuum, the rocket's engines silenced and left only the quiet hum of fuel moving through tubes and pipes. When would they ever reach this new heavenly body they were seeking? Who would ever know what happened if they never got there or found themselves stranded somewhere else? The perpetual sight of stars: nothing but stars, darkness, and silence.
     Okay, so my stories filled less than a page and I didn't know how to end except to just stop, but at least this spaceship was co-ed. I like to think that if I had added another paragraph, the women aboard would have figured out how to fly the guys safely back to Earth.

From BLUE SKIES: ONE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY, to be published this Fall.

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