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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

MARS OR BUST
4/24/2010 9:34:13 AM
A number of events have occurred during my sojourn, but the most significant are the births of my three children. Bobby (1952) was promptly nicknamed Po-Po. I was a fledgling disc jockey at the time, and an erstwhile singer named Guy Mitchell had a hit record called FEET UP (“pat him on the Po-Po, let’s hear him laugh!”) First time I saw Bobby I called him Po-Po. The sobriquet stuck, and to this day, those in the know still call him Po-Po.

In 1954 Barbara came along, and she was always, as she still is, the essence of sweetness. I don’t think I ever had a nickname for her, but if I did, it was simply ‘Babe,’ which loosely translated from the original Croatian means “there ain’t nobody as sweet as you, Babe!”

I was in my mid-fifties when Alex, daughter No. 2, arrived-—somewhat unexpectedly. I had re-married, and for twelve years there was just Christine and I. Then, suddenly, we were three!

Although Alex would become the first of my progeny to graduate from a major university with a honest-to-goodness degree in education, there was one moment of abject failure I personally experienced when she was eight years old. In 1992 I announced that we had an opportunity to abandon the frozen tundra of Western New York for the sunny clime and romantic culture of the Old South. Convincing a third grader that moving away from all her friends and relatives would give her the best of all possible worlds was a difficult and frustrating task; time heals all wounds (or wounds all heels.)

In retrospect, of course, it worked out for the best. Had we not moved, Alex might never have attended the University of Georgia, never have married Phillip Faucette, a gem of a son-in-law and an aspiring dentist, nor would she have landed a plum teaching position at St. George’s, a prestigious private school in Memphis. Snagging Phillip has given me the unheard of blessing of not one, but TWO, dynamic sons-in-law to add to my roster of a remarkable daughter-in-law! Add all of this to the astounding achievement of Chris’ summa cum laude graduation from the American Intercontinental University and the publication of my first novel, and the plus side of the ledger so outweighs the minuses, I wonder why I was once abnormally distraught for causing the family to pull up stakes.

To be totally honest, my motives were selfish. Born in Ohio and shuffled all over the Buckeye and Empires States for fourteen years, I finally found myself in the place where I truly belonged-—Virginia. I remained immersed in the South for a lifetime—three straight years! By 1947 I was back in New York. The opportunity to escape again did not present itself until 1992.

It was while in Virginia that I seriously began jotting down stories; it was the time of my first publishing success, minor as it was, and I knew precisely what I wanted to become: a writer. Naturally, college was never a plan, and by the time we moved back North, the Korean War became my excuse for making one monumental mistake after another.

Opportunities in radio (and later TV) presented themselves, and I was content to stay at the “well of plenty” for as long as necessary. And I remained there--fat, dumb and happy--until 1993. Those of you who follow assiduously these Blogs know that my 45 years before the masthead afforded many experiences without which I probably would have cashed in my chips long ago. If nothing else, they provided a plethora of fodder for my six novels and myriad short stories.

What most people don’t know, however, is my long smoldering desire to become, of all things, an ASTRONAUT—-my apparent lack of credentials notwithstanding. I have no mathematical or engineering expertise; my scientific, chemical, astrophysical, atmospheric, biological and aerodynamic qualifications are non-existent. All I have to offer NASA is my own version of the right stuff.

Naturally, they showed no interest in me; all my letters, applications and hand-wringing pleas fell on deaf ears or were politely returned (some unopened.) Tough tamales! I determined to become fabulously wealthy through vigorous writing and BUY my way aboard a ship to outer space! I’d show them!

Well . . . the best laid plans, etc. I doubt if I could afford to have my NASA uniform dry-cleaned (if I owned one, which I don’t) and besides, it may all be academic now, anyway. The reorganization of NASA appears to be imminent—-pretty much in the same manner as the OSS, like when ol’ Harry Truman was persuaded the CIA was a better deal. (If you are truly interested in the real reasons behind this, I suggest you read accurate history that deals with General William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan’s relationship with the Truman administration. My unpublished novel DANTE’S CIRCLES goes into this in fictional detail.)

Despite the whiners and maligners, there is not much President Obama has done or not done that I disagree with, except possibly tampering with NASA. After decades of leadership in the space program, slamming the doors on the Kennedy Space Center and the Houston facility is tantamount to ignoring John Phillip Sousa at the 4th of July Capitol concert.

Personally, when push comes to lift-off, I don’t think Mr. Obama will allow NASA to disintegrate. The White House, not known to bend to politically inspired partisan peccadilloes, will at the last moment salvage NASA from history’s scrap heap; we will move on—-soon-—to even greater heights of exploration where no man has gone before.

Sadly, I will have to remain on terra firma. And, frankly, as Rhett Butler would say, I don’t give a hoot in the hollow. I’m too old to care, anyway.


Copyright©2010 by Robert A. Mills


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