WRITE TEAM: Space travel is back to once again give us faraway dreams – MyWebTimes.com

Posted: June 9, 2020 at 11:47 pm

For the first time in nearly a decade, two American astronauts were recently launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were on a SpaceX vehicle, which successfully docked with the International Space Station after spending 19 hours orbiting around Earth. They joined three other astronauts already on the station and will remain for up to four months to work and research.

I remember watching rocket blastoffs on a black and white TV in the 1960s, culminating with Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in July, 1969. The 1960s were a huge decade for space exploration. Space travel was unbelievably inspiring.

So much so that in a brick ranch house in Kankakee, an experimental flight took place. My brother, Mark, decided to conduct his own airborne encounter. Not entirely scientific, it was nonetheless, a memorable experience for our family in 1965.

Our youngest brother, Eric, had been born in December of 1963. He had a congenital heart condition that required hospital stays in Chicago. (He is now a healthy high school teacher.) When our parents stayed with him in the hospital, our maternal grandmother came to stay with Mark and me.

Grandma lived in Joliet and like many women her age, never learned to drive. When we needed her, Grandpa would bring her over where she kept our household moving along, cooking and cleaning and taking care of Mark, me, and our dog, Peanuts.

Our house had a semi-finished basement where we kids often played. A long, steep, uncarpeted staircase led to the lower level.

One day, while I was at school, Mark decided to play astronaut. We had been watching the space news on TV which must have motivated him to give Peanuts her chance to be a hero and sail through the sky.

Lacking a proper rocket ship, he selected a small, round, metal garbage can as a substitute. Peanuts was a fairly small miniature dachshund. For her protection, he wrapped her in a woven rug and placed her inside the metal can.

At the top of the staircase, he rolled/launched the makeshift rocket and then raced ahead of it down the stairs. The metal can made a tremendous noise as it repeatedly spun, bounced, and hit off the stairs. It rolled over and over, louder and louder.

Grandma heard the ruckus and came running to the stairs. Seeing the garbage can but not the dog, poor Grandma screamed, thinking that Mark had fallen down the stairs.

Seeing how scared she was, he quickly reassured her that it was the dog who had tumbled and not him. Her relief was brief; when she recovered and asked how the dog came to be wrapped in a rug inside the can, Mark was busted.

Grandma always said later that her first gray hairs appeared that day. Peanuts was not harmed, but there was never another launch on Summit Avenue. Our astronaut episodes were limited to drinking Tang in our kitchen while the real astronauts drank it in space.

I am glad that space travel is back to once again give us faraway dreams and adventures; transforming kids, dogs, and basements into vessels of imagination.

And giving gray hairs to grandmas.

Karen Roth is a semi-retired librarian/educator living in Ottawa. To reach her, email tsloup@shawmedia.com.

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WRITE TEAM: Space travel is back to once again give us faraway dreams - MyWebTimes.com

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