It is refreshing to have our youngest daughter, Christine, and her husband, Ben, both born-and-raised Syracuse kids, back in our home with their children for a season. The best part is re-experiencing the imagination of child play. Their play rekindles memory of my own “childish” actions.
It was 1957, thereabouts. The Russians placed Sputnik into orbit.I was a devout fan of Flash Gordon on this new-fangled gadget called the television. I remember sitting up late one night with my mother and watching a black-and-white movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still,first viewed in theaters in 1951, but now being broadcast on TV the first time. It was an intervention of sorts. An Alien from another galaxy is sent to Earth to warn inhabitants against the misuse of nuclear power. Earth was put on notice that it would be destroyed if it couldn’t live peacefully.
In 1958 NASA began the Mercury Project. Its mission was to put a man into Earth-orbit. Finding itself behind in the space race, the US pushed for exploration as a result of the ongoing Cold War. The imagination of NASA scientists was not limited to engineers. I draw your attention to the image and ask: “What do they have in common?”
Mom left my year-younger brother, Craig, and myself home to tend our three-year-old sibling, Scott, while she ran to the neighbor’s for sugar. That combination was always explosive. To us, mother’s new electric dryer looked like a space ship. Craig and I hoisted Scott into the dryer and closed the hatch! The problem was: WE DIDN’T KNOW HOW IT OPENED! Luckily, we didn’t know how to turn on the appliance or Scott would have burned up on reentry! He was trapped and now screaming, awaiting Mom’s return. Not knowing the meaning of the word “beratement” then, I soon knew its fury! It’s tough being the oldest.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Man’s Landing on the Moon. I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was!Perhaps you do, too. I celebrated the event once, with the delivery of Christine. Jayne did all the work, but I was in charge of timing. She was born July 20, 1987. Eighteen years earlier in 1969, preparing to leave for Germany to serve a mission for my church, I was learning language skills in Provo. Black-and-white TVs, normally taboo, were authorized. It was in the wee hours of the AM, local time. Neal Armstrong wrote a prepared statement:“One small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” In the excitement of the moment he left out the single-letter word “a.” You know the rest of the story!
For many, now, this story is a given; not having lived it. I felt your frustrations with the D-day celebrations this year. Ask one present on July 20, 1969 to tell you his or her story! You may not have lived the event, but it is part of your heritage.
Mayor Michael Gailey