Thursday, April 25, 2013

boy astronaut

My dad used to host the Gadsden Table Tennis Association (GTTA) back in the 1960's.  GTTA had tournaments at various locations in Etowah County, but the best location was at the recreation center in East Gadsden across from the Goodyear Tire Plant.

All the grown-ups were having a blast, but I wasn't.  I sat there and watched table tennis games after table tennis games back to back.  The sound of a dozen ping-pong balls being hit paddle to table to paddle echoed throughout the room.  It was an exciting time for grown-ups.

As the sun went down and the ping pong balls droned on, this Elvis left the building.  I wandered around the the rear of the facility and discovered their playground.  It was empty.  It was all mine!

I was fascinated by the rocket play-set that towered over the playground.  It was so quiet outside except for the crickets.  I didn't want to get on the swing or anything, just that mighty rocket.  The streetlight offered just enough light to play, but just enough light to make a kid feel as if he had the planet to himself.  As I entered the craft from the bottom portal, the light against the bar walls cast dark shadows on the each level.

I remember the atmosphere of that night and of that moment made me feel a little scared.  The dimness, the dusk made me think that maybe that rocket might really take off.  I climbed on up to the top level.  It seemed even darker there.  It was cramped, but I had enough room to lay on my back with my knees up.  I don't know how long I was up there in the darkness, in that quiet moment, looking up at the stars.  It was a wonderful place to look up at stars, at the nose of a spacecraft.  I thought that this must be what it's like to be an astronaut.

Napkin Art from a long time ago
by David B. Finlayson
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