Sharing Stories

Halloween and Sputnik and aliens!


Sixty years ago, I was eleven years old, rushing up the block to my best friend Marilynn’s house, ready to share the news broadcast on KXLE radio station—Sputnik would be flying across our starry Ellensburg sky in twenty minutes. Breathless, and surprised (Mom would let me out after nine o’clock on a Saturday night), I knocked on the door, excited to share the historic moment. The Man in the Moon would have more to watch than the spinning like a top earth.

An orange cheddar cheese hanging harvest full moon tinted the pale parmesan ball changing shapes in the night sky like a magic abracadabra in space.

Bundled up in warm coats and scarves, our heads tilted back, searching the stars as exhaled breaths floated to the tip of our noses with small clouds of hot air. The season was changing—colder days and icy clear nights—leaves shifting colors like a temperamental artist running out of paints. Halloween peeked around the corner reminding us trick-or-treat night was only for children. We were already plotting and planning our trick, filling an old pair of Dad’s pants and a shirt with raked leaves, topping it off with a flashlight-lit carved pumpkin head.

Twinkling like a star slowly crossing the sky, Sputnik moved, becoming a shimmering diamond in space, circling the earth in an imitation Babe Ruth homerun orbiting hit. We knew the world was changing as our fingers pointed following the shining path. Flash Gordon in a spaceship could become more than a fantasy as we thought about civilizations on Mars and its changing canals. Green Martians would be in for a surprise when our spacemen landed on their red planet.

My seventh grade Home-Ec teacher during that chilly fall, informed Mother and me at a parent teacher meeting, “It would be wise to teach April how to be a housewife because she probably won’t be able to develop the skills to get a job supporting herself. She should be prepared to get married.”

Mother looked her in the eye, explaining, “April will be good at whatever she wants to do.”

I sat stunned in silence, thinking one thing for sure…I wouldn’t be a teacher. Mars was calling. I saw Sputnik cross the night sky and had big dreams.

April Ryan

April Ryan is a loyal member of Ariele Huff’s Friday ongoing writing group at Edmonds Senior Center. Her work is frequently published in Northwest Prime Time’s print version and in Sharing Stories.

SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to ariele@comcast.net. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).

SHARING STORIES is featured on www.northwestprimetime.com, the website for Northwest Prime Time, a monthly publication for baby boomers, seniors, retirees, and those contemplating retirement. The newspaper can be found in the greater Seattle area and other Puget Sound locations. For more information, call 206-824-8600 or visit www.northwestprimetime.com. To find other SHARING STORIES articles on this website, type in "sharing stories" in the search function above.

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