Saturday, November 26, 2011
The Child Who Survived
Strange not to be at the Space Center on a Saturday. I feel like I should be doing something or talking to someone. The room is too quiet. There are no explosions or sirens or children laughing, screaming or applauding. I'm not surrounded by scores of young people moving to and from the simulators, some taking a moment or two to talk while others ask for the M and M drawer as they fill their prescription bottles. It's 4:23 P.M. according to the clock I should be wandering through the school dispensing Meadow Gold Ice Cream Sandwiches. The halls should echo with Rogers automatic floor cleaner, the one that resembles an ice rink's Zamboni. Twenty one years of conditioning brings an uneasiness when routine is disrupted.
Don't worry about me. I'll weather this disturbance in the Force. My chores are never done. It's all part of being an adult, even in a land of Imagination where kids reign supreme.
Childhood goes by so quickly. Wasn't it just a couple long years ago I was a fifth grader at Canyon Lake Elementary School? We moved mid year from South Canyon to Canyon Lake. It was tough changing schools, but I had a talent for making friends quickly. It was that year I went on my favorite elementary school field trip to KOTA, Rapid City's local television station. Instead of Alice's looking glass, I had stepped through the television screen and met the people whose black and white pixels lit my small living room every evening. I saw the large cameras and the wooden sets used for the news and the children's Saturday morning shows. That simple rural TV studio was magic for a ten year old.
A kindly woman with heavily lacquered hair called us over to a large table next to a room filled with panels of dials, switches and knobs. A couple dozen 8 by 10 black and white photographs of KOTA's Saturday morning cartoon characters covered the table top. She told us we could take one photograph of our favorite cartoon character.
"How nice, let's all say thank you to the nice lady." My teacher spoke perfect Teacher Talk .
Teacher Talk notwithstanding, we didn't hear a word she said. It was our Walmart Black Friday moment, circa 1968. We rushed forward, ignoring the teacher's shouting for order. Everyone pushed and shoved to get to the table first, none more so than me. There at the center of the table lay a picture of my cartoon hero, Johnny Quest. I pushed Derek Leonard down. Tom Patnoe shoved and I shoved back with all the shove a ten year old could muster. Five empty hands strained toward the prize. Only one came back fulfilled. Johnny Quest was mine.
I have many fond school memories from my childhood. For most children today, the Space Education Center is their best remembered field trip. We bring magic into their lives. It is a responsibility we take seriously. It is a duty that motivates me, and I hope everyone on our staff, to go above and beyond. We will continue to honor a commitment to quality and do our part to ensure more children will survive into adulthood.
Many have asked about the title pictures seen on this blog. Many of them come from my collection of old black and white pictures of kids, adults and seniors living in times gone by. I organized a few of my favorites showing kids from times passed. Today they are either in the winter of life or gone. It is a reminder of how quickly life passes. Enjoy your childhood. Cherish the memories and let your childhood survive into adulthood.