HW: The Chairs Lean Back

Rockets launch as the slides click.
Stars with a deep voice.

If I ever compile these haikus into a book, I might name it “Shitty Words” or some such nonsense because my poems do not flow or fly, but stutter along like John Wilkes Booth limping from one side of the stage to the other (too soon?). Even so, the above is a personal favorite.

Fads and fashions aren’t what they used to be, so younger folks might not grasp our level of passion for NASA’s exploits of the Sixties and Seventies. A love affair measured in years and across industries, it was a golden age for science fiction, too, with Star Trek and a host of literary maestros (Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Le Guin, Niven, etc.) priming the pump for Star Wars (1977). You couldn’t swing a cat in K-Mart without hitting something related to space. I loved it.

Part of my journey was (dramatic pause) the Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetarium. Opened in 1963, it was “the first planetarium in the United States to feature a 360-degree projector capable of providing horizon-to-horizon images and through time-lapse photography showing an entire day’s weather in a few minutes” (link). I mean, how cool is that?

But, yes, there was more! Every show was a low-tech extravaganza disguised as a high-tech personal journey to Mars, the moons of Jupiter, or a trip through a prehistoric swamp. And how about a little love for those laser shows set to rock music? We’d sit back in chairs declined at 45-degree angle to watch pictures displayed on the big globe above us to hear narration set to film strips, slide projectors, music, and the very-deep-monotonal-bass voice of our narrator acting as our guide to a more wonderous time.

I haven’t been back since they dropped “Atmospherium” from the title, but the memories remain. I can still close my eyes, watch the Saturn V explode to the stars, and wish I was still the kid who wanted to fly with a rocket.

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