Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas 1968 (Blogophilia 43.6)





It was an unusually warm Christmas Eve at my Uncle Archie's house.  My family had driven to Savannah from Orlando with a car load of "Santa" gifts. I was 10, and had pretty much figured Santa for a ruse, but I really didn't want to let go of the fantasy.  It took away from my parents fighting again and my Dad had lost his job.  There wasn't a partridge in the pear tree for us, just ravens in the live oaks along the dock.

The launch of Apollo 8 was on the morning we left, so we delayed our start to see it. The cartoons that touted and mocked the inventions of the future were about to come true.  All the scoffing about lunar travel and it’s impossibility silenced for all time.  


Our house was 40 miles west of the launch pad and the schoolyard at the end of the street made viewing launches easy. We could see the glint off the fantastical machine as the craft vectored away from shore.  When the dot made 15 degrees over the horizon, the thunder of the engines reached us.  The ground shook lightly as the sound rolled for what seemed like forever.  For a kid, it was a truly a California Dream to grow and be that guy, the guy with the right stuff.  


And now we were sitting in Archie's den at midnight, watching the flickering black and white images from a fantastical place. The sliver of the Moon framed in the small window of the Command Module.  Fun and games ceased for the moment.  The gifts that were all around the Christmas Tree we ignored.  All we cared about was Walter Cronkite's narration and Frank Borman’s scratchy voice from so far away.  In that moment, it didn't matter that my parents were drunk and were likely to stay that way for the next four days.  I was a time for imagination and flight, and wondering if God himself could see our feeble attempt to touch his face. 

Here we are now 45 years later.  Our imagination seems to be gone.  We don't aspire to the heavens, or even really to this earth.  We seem to be bent on our own appetites and destruction.  Maybe we can change.


Maybe.



Merry Christmas

23 comments:

  1. I'm not completely sure we are bent on destruction - but I agree we don't have the high aspritations we once had. Maybe our kids or grandkids will find them again.

    TM

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    1. It's hard to say. Even back then, there were a lot of naysayers that criticized the project (and still do). But from it came all the computer goodies we now take for granted. We'll see.

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  2. yes the race to the moon captured the imagination of the world...maybe that was the last time it was, when we all looking up at the heaven's with the same thing in mind... how they was doing and if there really was aliens out there that would get in touch with us now we had ventured to our nearest planet Christopher... so many unknowns then... but, alas, now its all old hat and even the launches only attract a few onlookers my friend... you have a very good memory of your childhood Christopher.. something that is not readily available to me until I read your blog my friend.. now you have sparked off a lot of stuff ... you had it hard then I see, the world can be a harsh place to live in at times Christopher... but somehow we make it though ... and I feel we are the better for it when it comes to teaching the kids we come into contact with now... a very though provoking blog pal.. :-)

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    1. I still make time to see a launch if I am anywhere near. The last time I did, I was in Savannah which is about 200 miles north of KSC. With the curve of the coast and favorable sky, I got a nice glimpse of a Shuttle going off.

      I guess that Christmas will always stick with me. It was the first time we had celebrated anywhere but our house and things just were not right.

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  3. well the good news is a friend told us last night when she was hanging with some kids a while ago they preferred to use their imagination and play with sticks rather than a new shiny fire engine that one of the kids had brought.
    Maybe we just have to let kids be kids busy up their days with "educational" activities. Anyway this doesn't make sense but so be it

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    1. Yeah, there are some kids left like this. Give them a big bucket of Lego's with no instructions and they are happy for hours.

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  4. I enjoyed this. Hopefully the younger generation will aspire to bigger and broader horizons than we did. They certainly have the technology to. --Leta

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    1. It is whether they will have the passion to follow their dreams. I pray so.

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  5. well written. I liked your line about ravens in the live oaks! I remember being transfixed by this event as well, and so true, we don't seem to have the wonder of exploration as we once did.
    Jay

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    1. And it is sad. It is the imagination that keeps us going.

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  6. Tsk! Tsk! No need to fret. The future generation will soar! 8 points, Earthling!! :D

    -Marvin Martian

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    1. We can only hope, Marvin. How else are we going to defeat the PU 38 space modulator.

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  7. Yes, only Blogophiliacs are imaginative now. Sadly, most of us aren't so young anymore. Great observation! ~Ruz/Jos David

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    1. And we are considered to be doddering old folks whining about the good old days.

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  8. Morning Dave...It is Todd...I tried to comment this yesterday but my comment was lost after logging in

    I remember this well! I was 8 years old and as I watched this with my family, I was awestruck and dreamed of a future that I believe will, in our lifetime, be realized! Although on the surface, it looks like NASA has all but given up on man'd space missions, They are ushering in an age of privatized space pioneers who will carry (the ones who can afford a seat) to mars as soon as five years from now. It was these launches that sparked my love for Science and Astronomy.

    Very well written piece my friend!

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    1. Indeed! This is Christopher, the notorious (ex) Government Employee.

      I can see it "Fly Space Virgin to Mars."

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  9. Todd, this blog is Christopher's! LOL! I had to laugh. I'm in a wickedly silly mood today.

    I remember this as well, Christopher, and you know what, you're right. Not much going on in furtherance, unless you call the boom in technology being one!

    --Leta

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    1. The Tech boom going on now is about numbers, money and entertainment. Back then, it was exploring the unknown. Not knowing what was over the next horizon (or past that funny red planet).

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  10. Wish I had been there to witness such a historical event but at that time I was in a far east country doing my duty for our country. I didn't even hear that the event had happened until a year later when I returned to the states.
    Time passes, things advance while others recede. It is a give and take world

    Blue fool

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    1. Sadly, you were forgotten that night. Vietnam just became a bad nightmare that the astronauts soothed.

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  11. Recalling it well as I read your eloquent and powerful piece. Hoping today's situation changes for all the world.

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  12. You know? You're right about that. I try to dream big but it fails...Great post!

    --Diana J

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