Before this decade is out

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project...will be more exciting, or more impressive to mankind, or more important...and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish...".

President Kennedy issued his challenge just as I was finishing kindergarten with Mrs. Ballard at Eastridge Elementary. I'd made a snowman from three balls of clay, and identified the beginning, middle, and end of a picture story, so I understood three, the number of stages of an Atlas Mercury rocket. Seven was important because of John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, and Deke Slayton. My mom was sad that Deke Slayton had a heart murmur and couldn't go into space. My favorites were Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper.

Kindergarten was so lovely. We played in the kitchen, listened to poems about umbrellas, had a mid-morning carton of milk, put on our own boots and mittens in the cloakroom, and walked in a straight line with the other boys and girls. Artistically, I moved beyond eating white paste to choosing pieces from the scrap box for making collages on construction paper.

Mairzy Doats was impressed that my telephone number had the IV8 prefix. She knew the little lambs ate it.

Tomorrow my little students will make Mission Control computers out of egg cartons. Then we will send the classroom pet rabbit on an imaginary space flight. Thanks so much to Potsie, Fritzi, Inez, Vic, Gus, Mairzy, Norton, and Gordie. Thanks to all the little bunnies who made it possible.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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