Bright sun; cold morning. Walking to school, you’d go from an ice- slicked sidewalk to one that the was shoveled. The old people would clean the sidewalks in front of their houses after a snowstorm; the rest didn’t or were late to do so. We shivered outside, waiting for the one door to open. We crammed to pass through it, tearing off our coats to become warm. Seemed it took forever to do so on those very cold mornings.

That morning, we were in for a treat. After classes began, the teachers ushered us into the first floor, central hallway. We weren’t quite sure why; maybe it was another one of our atomic war drills. We sat on the floor; the spots where the janitor had missed were still dirty with sand and small puddles of water from the snow on our boots earlier. Mr. Powers, the science teacher, announced that we were going to watch the rocket launching from Cape Canaveral. Mr. Hines had brought in his television. We couldn’t believe it! Watching a black-and-white television in school! Unbelievable to us kids back then. Some kids didn’t even have a television. So, for them, this was even more fantastic; more exciting.

As a chorus, we all counted down, teachers along with us kids: … three …two … one. It was hard to see because the screen was small compared to what we have today, but, at first, the rocket looked like it was exploding. Massive, billowing clouds of smoke, then fire.

Everyone held their breath. There was a hush. We were afraid. Then you could see it begin to rise. Everyone cheered. Then cheered ever more loudly. We were awestruck; awestruck by what we had just seen and heard.

A day I’ll fondly remember – the day when John Glenn piloted that rocket into history.


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