Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Week

I know I'm a few days late here, but that's been my week so far. I don't know if anyone born after 1969 can appreciate what a big deal the moon landing was. We had accomplished the unimaginable. So unimaginable, that there are still people 40 years later who are convinced that the landing was shot in a hanger on a Texas air base. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But then again maybe JFK still lives on a private island somewhere in the Caribbean. Whatever.
In July of 1969 I was 13 years old. My 14th birthday was just a few days away. I celebrated both events in Troy, Wisconsin, at the Juniper Knoll Girl Scout Camp. For two week, girls from the Chicagoland area swam, hiked, slept in tents, enjoyed nature and each other. To celebrate such an incredible achievement, we gathered on the beach. We sang, and told stories. One had to do with the Indians of the area. Someone ran a wire from a close by tree to a fire pit. That person made a cage from chicken wire and loaded it with gas soaked sanitary pads. At just the right moment during the story about the Indians, that person lit the pads on fire, and released it from where it was hooked on the tree. It looked like fire flew from heaven, striking the logs in the fire pit, and making them burst into flames. As the fire burned, we continued to sing long into the night.
I chose this to write about because of the changes this has made, most of which were unexpected. By now we thought we'd have a settlement on the moon and would be exploring Mars. Instead we have better computers. I heard someone say that the our cell phones have 69 times more memory and function than computers way back then. We've made incredible advances in medicine, in weaponry and in all phases of communication.

I am sad to report that one of my favorite authors, Frank McCourt, died of melanoma on July 19th. He wrote Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man. I haven't read the last one, although I very much enjoyed the first two. I recommended Angela's Ashes to my friend, George. She damn near hit me with the book a couple of days later. "Damn it," she said. "Don't ever bring me a book like this again. It was the most depressing book I ever read. I couldn't put it down. It actually kept us up all night."
Angela's Ashes was about McCourt's childhood in Limerick, Ireland. It is the tale of the most miserable upbringing any child should suffer through. In spite of that, there are places where one can't help but laugh out loud.

Speaking of the moon landing, Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, covered it. This past week we were reminded of just how emotional he could get on occasion. When the word came out about the actual landing, Cronkite showed his wonderment. When JFK died, he shed tears on air. In spite of that, he reported real news. He was everything a real journalist wanted to be. He reported without bias, without cherry picking, and without comment. Nothing like Fox News and MSNBC is today.
Walter Cronkite also died on the 17th. According to Wikipedia, the cause was cerebral vascular disease.

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