Talking about the fun we had in 1976 with Ian Cole got me thinking about another summer, five years earlier, when the three Lockhart ladies had a remarkable summer adventure with his mother, Brooke.
Starting in her senior year in high school, Elsa & Mim would make the occasional trek from Pennsylvania down to Florida to watch Apollo rocket launches. Elsa would ultimately see four and Mim five.
Their first space shot was the lift-off of Apollo 12. Mim has a snapshot of Elsa standing on the roof of the van, scanning the horizon with binoculars - her right foot in full cast. She broke it just before they were scheduled to go down. I cannot figure how she was able to scale up the van to the roof with that heavy cast on, but they say she did it with ease. Oh, the wonders of being young.
By the time their third trek down was in the offing - I cannot remember which one - came around, they started trying to lure me down with them. I was complimented they wanted their old Mom to come down and share all the excitement they had experienced, but I was sure that Pete would not want me to leave him for over a week.
Ha! He thought it was a wonderful idea.
The next obstacle - money. It was not that I could not picture asking Pete to finance such a spree, but for some reason it meant everything to me that I foot the bill myself, however crazy that sounded, since I did not work other than do Pete's billings and that was as his life partner, not paid employee. But there I was, stuck with an unreasonable but deeply felt bee in my bonnet. What to do?
Out of the blue, my brother, Bob, sent me a check, repayment of money he'd borrowed literally decades before and which I had long since written off. The very amount I needed to finance my way. There I was, with both the time and the money, and on my terms. Still gives me goose bumps!
With me going along, Mim felt comfortable asking Lach and Jean if Brooke, who was in elementary school, could come too. They gave their okay, so one hot summer day found the van packed, the four of us buckling up our seatbelts and Pete waving farewell. We were off to Cape Canaveral!
Our first night, we stopped at Weldon, NC. I will never forget going to the local Holiday Inn restaurant and ordering a bourbon and water, only to find out it was a "dry" county - no liquor. I practically got down on the floor and kicked and screamed, I was so disappointed.
It was the only low point in the trip.
I remember Brooke getting ready to go to bed that night and turning to the three of us with this interesting look on her face. "I just realized," she said slowly, "that this is the first time I have ever gone anywhere that I did not arrive there on the same day." That was an interesting thought!
Even more interesting – and sobering – was Mim’s response ~ “And you don’t even know that what you’re going to watch will even take off!” Definitely sobering.
The next day - or it may have been the 3rd day, I am not sure - saw us in Daytona, driving down the beach and making a special visit at Brooke's request to the Speedway. Oh, it was HOT at the Speedway, but a promise is a promise.
We went to bed early that night, planning on getting up around 2:30 a.m. to head down to the Cape. I remember that Mim or Elsa rang up the desk for a wakeup call, only to be told the desk closed down at midnight, but they could lend us a wind-up alarm clock. We took it, but all three of us Lockhart Ladies spent the rest of the night checking and double checking to see if it was working, we were so anxious about getting off when we wanted. Brooke, thank goodness, was sound asleep.
The alarm did ultimately go off and we dragged our weary selves out of bed and roused the half-awake Brooke, who was conscious enough to get out to the van, then dropped back to sleep on the mattress we had in the back. The three of us Ladies were too excited to sleep.
I remember driving down I-95 in the black of night. After a while, off in the distance, there was a very faint suggestion of light, which grew stronger and stronger with each mile.
"What IS that light?" I asked Mim.
"That," she replied, "is the rocket."
On that, am off to bed and memories of hot and happy days!
Love - Space Age Mom