A half-century ago the position of “astronaut” held the same stature as fireman, policeman, doctor or, for some us, Batman. Back then adults often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and any of these responses elicited the “big dreams” adult face.
These days I spend a bit of time wondering what to keep and what to donate or toss. Fewer belongings have meaning, but one keepsake still tickles the big dream fibers. Framed and yellowed, the front page of the New York Daily News July 20, 1969 edition hangs in the family room surrounded by “stuff” that had most likely been crude oil at that time.
Why I chose to save that newspaper is somewhat a mystery. An 8-year-old saving an 8-cent collection of news way over his head. I certainly didn’t sense the true historic nature of that day. And I was under-developed enough to think I would see the landing through my cheap “spy” binoculars. But it meant something.
There was a time when I wanted to be an astronaut. Me and GI Joe’s Space Capsule flying around the concrete jungle of the Bronx. I hear you loud and clear, Houston. Pretty cool that 7/20/69 was a Monday or “Moonday” as it appears in print.
These days I do get lost in space, but for different reasons. Never made it to the moon. But I will always appreciate our satellite’s pull for, these days, few people ask 8-year-olds what they want to be when they grow up. It may have been black and white back then—newspapers, TVs, being 8-years-old— but all you had to do was look up to discover dazzling dreams in living color.