A long time ago in a Galaxie far, far away

Galaxie

Truly wonderful the mind of a child is. – Yoda

A long time ago in a Galaxie far, far away . . .

A little girl clutches Mama Bear and Papa Bear. Baby Bear has accidentally been flushed down the toilet.  Clad in a mod red pantsuit instead of a long white dress, and with hair too short for cinnamon buns on the sides of her head, the little girl is nevertheless a princess of sorts, if not a rebel. Yet.

“Stand right there and smile,” says the little girl’s grandmother, who snaps a picture. The little girl really cannot not see the camera, as the sun is in her eyes. She smiles anyway.

Behind her stands the Galaxie  – a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 that the little girl’s Granddaddy bought, used, for her Grandma. The exterior of the car is red. The interior is red, the fabric of the seats trimmed with silver cord.  The Galaxie doesn’t have power steering or air conditioning. In the summer its windows must stay rolled down if the people inside are to survive. Once it lost a hubcap and the girl’s Granddaddy had to run after it in the city streets.

Yet the Galaxie represents power, things far beyond the little girl. Ford Motor Company named it for the Space Race before the success of the United States over the Soviet Union, which came to pass in 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. The little girl has no memory of this event but likes watching Star Trek with her dad: “Beam me up, Scotty.” She sings The Jetsons theme song:  “His boy, Elroy . . . .” She loves the Jetsons’ dog, Astro. Space gets up close and personal in March of 1970, around the time this picture is taken. A total eclipse occurs in the southeastern United States. The little girl’s family and all the neighbors run out of their apartments in an excited frenzy to watch it. A hush, a stillness, falls over them as the bright day goes as dark as night. The sun disappears,  becoming a mere halo around the huge, black moon. 

“Don’t stare at it,” says Grandma, drawing the little girl close. “It will hurt your eyes.”

The little girl stares anyway, because it is so strange to see the sun go dark.

The world was changing fast. So was my universe. In the year following the eclipse, my grandfather retired. He’d been a shipbuilder since World War II. “We turned out ships in three months in during the war,” I recall him saying, “when it used to take a year.” The war had been over for twenty-five years and it was time to go home; my grandparents packed everything, loaded the Galaxie, and returned to the remote outskirts of Aurora, North Carolina – a tiny town named after the Roman goddess of the dawn. I thought at first it was named for Sleeping Beauty.

My summer voyages began. There on the old dirt roads where my dad ran and played as a child, I learned how to drive with that Galaxie. It was, after all, more indestructible than the Death Star. It was still running after the birth of my first child. My grandparents finally gave it away to the man who hauled trash off for them.

It’s probably running still, somewhere.

Which is more than can be said of our spacecraft.

slice-of-life_individualEarly Morning Slicer

 

 

19 thoughts on “A long time ago in a Galaxie far, far away

  1. what a fantastic slice! It is amazing how a photo can hold so many stories, isn’t it? And you’ve told them all beautifully here. I feel it inspiring a slice in me–thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This piece had me captivated the whole time, from the unfortunate demise of Baby Bear to your adventures in the Galaxie. I love how you brought together both your own history and the history of the world around you. And, of course, the picture is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fran,
    This is a beautiful story. I’m a child of the 60s, so the images you painting with your words rushed me back to those days. I do remember the grainy black and white video of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the Jetsons–George, Jane, Judy and Elroy, even the robot maid, Rosie, and, of course, the dog, Astro. We had a car with a similar shape that had few moving parts and seemed to last forever.

    Thanks for the memories. Well done!
    Denise

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Denise! The car’s name led me to the space connections – I had forgotten just how much our culture was steeped in it. Once I got going, so much came rushing back. I am happy that it meant something to you and stirred your own memories – I so appreciate your letting me know.

      Like

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