Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

OF SPACEMEN & THEIR DETRACTORS

           Fifty years of bragging rights for landing on the moon cheers our hearts but, lest we forget, there were and still are plenty of knuckleheads who buy none of it.

          What it is about the contrarian mind, I know not, nor from whence it comes, but it would best believe nonsense than facts. But they are our countrymen, and we are locked with them in an everlasting embrace.

          After the space marvel feat of half a century ago, and as the intrepid editor of a new Atlanta newspaper, I found my way to Zeke Segal, Southeastern bureau chief for CBS who treated me to one of the daily Cronkite-led conferences with all regional chiefs. Walter’s genius was displayed in those crisp, no-nonsense reviews of what would—and would not—play on that evening’s news menu, ending always with the characteristic human-interest story.

          Later Zeke re-played clips of the then-recent Armstrong & Co. landing—and pix of the staged studio mock-ups used to simplify complicated details for the less technically savvy—and brought reminders of countless calls to the stations nationwide claiming that news channels were trying to fool viewers by presenting the staged version as the actual moon episode. Nothing apparently can turn a flat head into a normal cranium: a good quarter of Americans doubted that what was seen even from moon-zero was actual footage.

          Not long after arose another spaceman, so called, named Bill Lee, one of the most interesting and entertaining, not to mention capable, pitchers of the Boston Red Sox of those struggling times for the team. He was different, no doubt, and dubbed Spaceman due to certain antics and to his evasive but tempting answers as to whether he pitched while under the influence of weed. Don Zimmer was the Sox manager and didn’t like people who wouldn’t play the old-fashioned way—you know, with maws full of chewing tobacco, which led oft-times to mouth cancer—and ol’ Zimm, in his ignorance, pulled Lee, a real Yankee-killer at the time, out of a crucial game with the Bombers for little other reason than he didn’t like him and loathed the idea of the Spaceman being a hero.

          The back and forth between Lee and his detractors led to vocal  knots of defenders and detractors, and may have occasioned Spaceman Lee being taken less seriously as an ace pitcher. Some declared he was a selfish, self-absorbed egotist who cared for nothing but himself.

          In a recent year Lee was a presenter at our local Literary Festival, after which, in conversation, he misjudged my age and, finding me older than he thought, with characteristic humor asked if I were the Devil. In later trips to Vermont, passing close to his home in Craftsbury, I called, but always in his absence, and left voicemail greetings.

          Later, following a bad fall in that selfsame state I was rushed to a small hospital with broken ribs, half of which were completely apart, and every movement akin to a thousand little knives assaulting each nerve in my back and torso. How Lee found out, I don’t know, but after my departure for home the Spaceman showed up at the hospital to visit and wish me well.

          It’s hard to think of someone whom I hardly know as self-centered when he bothers to seek me out in my distress. Actually, I still haven’t seen him since, given his constant ball-playing where he yet swings a mean bat and strikes out ballers much younger than he. But I’m not among his doubters and will take said Spaceman over Zimmer any time—(I cheered when the latter once charged Pedro Martinez on the mound and unceremoniously ended on his own butt).

          Today in our wonderful republic where there is a palpable sinking sensation, we need more spacemen and women who will dare to do the un-doable, as on the moon; and those who will refreshingly march to their own drummers in a time while others follow false idols as do  ducklings scrambling after a rubber ball in the absence of their mother.

          I close with a word worth knowing but seldom used: kakistocracy; viz., government by the least suitable or competent citizens.

          May we rise above the muck of the current presidential swamp and into the rarefied air of the space above, where dwell daring, intelligent scions of science—and of people who know who they are, and live it, and have greatness of heart along with it.

One Response to “OF SPACEMEN & THEIR DETRACTORS”

  1. Good article, Ichabod has been absent for awhile!


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