School continued in 1966 under the tutelage of Mr. Buckinburger and so did the fun with Lost in Space reenactments in the playground. Soon Halloween came with the usual visit to the Pughs Halloween party and the 3 bags of “Booty” collected on our well planned canvassing of the neighborhoods. Then came Thanksgiving and the time off from school for the holiday. And everyone knows what comes after Thanksgiving! CHRISTMAS! YES YES YES!
I have already been thinking of what I wanted for Christmas. I wanted a motorized vehicle so bad I could taste it! I had my eye on a small mini bike sold at Sears. It had a 5 HP Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine. I wanted it so bad. However I knew the chances of getting were slim to nothing. My friend Greg’s dad had already made a mini bike for him. My friend Carlos was also promised a vehicle, but still didn’t have one. Mom was quite firm and expressed her fears to dad most graphically.
Christmas eve came and we made our usual pilgrimage to Lakeview Baptist Church for the Christmas eve service. I was by far to old to wait for “Santa” to deliver my gifts so I could open them in the morning. In this time of my life, opening of gifts took place on Christmas eve. The excitement had been building these past few weeks. Maybe just maybe mom would relent, and give the green light to dad to go to Sears and purchase my mini bike.
I could hardly stand the wait. The Christmas eve service seemed to go on and on and on. I sat in the pew and tried not to fidget. At last the final hymn was sung and we made our way out onto the cold winter night and to the car.
We made it home. Mom put out some potato salad and snacks and we all settled down in the living room in front of the Christmas tree. Most years I played Santa and handed out gifts one by one. One to mom. Then dad. Then me. I received some models this year and a base station with walkie talkies. That was pretty cool. It had a range that covers all of Beaumont Drive. Some clothes and this and that. I did not expect a mini bike to be in the living room so I began eyeing the door leading to the garage. Dad saw this and said ” jim. Do you think something else may be out there? Why don’t you go check.” I sprang up off the couch and did just that! Over in the corner of the garage was a 6 foot toboggan and next to it a some skies and poles. No mini bike. But wow! The toboggan and the skies were fantastic. My parents had trained me to be satisfied and grateful for what you have. Even if I had received something of far less interest to me than the toboggan and the skies, I would have held my tongue and Express my gratitude and thankfulness to my parents. I was taught to choose cheerfulness rather then happiness. Cheerfulness is much easier to maintain because it is entirely in one’s own control. And so I expressed my thanks to mom and dad and planned adventures in the frozen hills!
Winter turned to springtime and then came my birthday. I saw no reason in asking for a mini bike. Why waste the energy. Dad, however had seen traces of my disappointment and had been gently working on mom for her approval. I asked for a model that had caught my eye. And a Frisbee. Mom smiled and dad said “What. No mini bike? I thought for sure you would ask for that.” I said “Well I figured no use in asking for that as you probably would not get that for me.” Dad said with a wink “Ask Jim. Ask.” The smile on moms face disappeared.
My birthday came on the 12th of May. The three of us gathered on the patio for hamburgers and chips and birthday cheer. My Hope’s were at bay. I was excited but not expecting the impossible. After the meal I opened the gifts. A frisbee. Some jarts and a couple of other items. We set up the jarts and had some fun playing together. As dad was about to release his jart towards its ring, he stopped. “Oh wait! I just forgot. Sorry. Jim. There is one more item in the garage. Go check it out.” My ears perked up and I ran for the garage back door. There it was!! In the corner was a brand new sears 5 HP mini bike!!! Yes! Yes! Yes! Well dad over the months had been working on moms approval and had won it. Mom was not entirely convinced. However she gave her approval a few months ago. So dad had bought it, brought it home unboxed, and put it in the garage. I never noticed it out there!
What a birthday. Of course I wanted to ride it at once. Dad approved and mom grudgingly approved. “Jim. You be careful. Bob! Watch him! Oh those things are dangerous.” So dad choked the engine and pulled the starter cord and the engine started. I had ridden Greg’s mini bike so I assured dad I had some knowledge. “Ok Jim. Be careful.” And off I headed across the retention pond edge and over to the hills across Wattles Road. What fun. What excitement. What freedom! The entire summer was spent exploring my new freedom in mobility along with Greg and Carlos!
Spring turned to summer and before I knew it it was school time again! Wow summers flew by fast! In the school year of 66/67 I was in 6th grade. First year of junior high. This meant a move from the Elementary school to the Jr high school on Crosby drive. The school was still within walking range so no bus ride to and from school. Mr. Gifford was my 6th grade teacher. He was a short middle aged man who always was dressed in a suit and a bow tie. He was a good teacher and he further influenced my liking of science and space. He would read to his class a chapter of a book every school day. I especially liked it when he read science fiction. Especially technical science fiction that explains how things work.
On the 8th of September 1966 Star Trek premiered on CBS. The first episode is call The Man Trap. The following is a short synopsis of the Man Trap.
When the Enterprise takes McCoy to perform routine physicals on Robert and Nancy crater, two archaeologists working on a remote planet, Captain Kirk is surprised by Dr. Crater’s resistance to the crew’s presence and to their demands for additional salt. One crewman is found dead, then another, with mysterious facial scarring. McCoy discovers that all salt has been drained from the bodies. While Kirk and Spock try to discover why Dr. Crater will resort to violence to make Enterprise leave, his wife – who is really a shape shifter that sucks salt from the bodies of other beings – infiltrates the ship disguised as a crew member and begins to prey on the crew.
Star Trek and Lost in Space combined had a great influence over me. Star Trek targeted adults whereas Lost in Space targeted children. This made the show very desirable albeit more scary. As with Lost in Space, a few of us would reenact Star Trek episodes at recess at the Jr High. Most of the time Jon would be Spock and I Capt. Kirk. And Bill would take the roll of Scotty. Peggy was Yeoman Rand. In the very back of the schools property was a woods. That is where we set up the bridge of the Enterprise and engineering and the teleporters. This is where I learned the Vulcan sign live long and prosper here. I as captain took the risks. Sometimes I had to rescue someone. It was very pleasant to rescue Yeoman Rand as Peggy was a very attractive girl. Jon/Spock would walk around saying “It’s not logical.” The following Halloween I dressed up as Spock and practiced not showing the slightest bit of emotion. Jon and I took this s little bit further. I would go over to his house. His room was the loft in the attic. That was the bridge. Another room on the main floor was the teleporter. And in the basement was engineering and the warp engines. Fun times pretending.
All in all it was a very good year. I now owned a motor vehicle. And a new fantastic tv show. And now looking forward to 1967. Life was good indeed!