Column: Girls of the Space Race era finally get their heroes
As you age, it’s fascinating to read stuff happening now that only existed in the imagination or in science fiction in childhood.
Recently, Anne McClain, who grew up in Spokane, was tapped to be one of NASA’s eight newest astronaut trainees. The 34-year-old Gonzaga Prep and West Point Academy graduate has degrees in aerospace engineering and in international security. Plus, she’s a pilot.
In the Apollo space mission days of the 1960s and early ’70s, there were no women astronauts, though my girlfriends and I were as nuts about the space program as the boys in our class.
And the only memorable women space adventurers in 1960s popular culture? Lieutenant Uhura, the chief communications officer in the original “Star Trek” series. Even though June Lockhart’s character in “Lost in Space” was a biochemist, her role in the series was “to prepare meals, tend the garden and help with light construction, while adding a voice of compassion,” as Wikipedia so accurately put it.
So congratulations, Anne McClain. We space-travel-crazy girls of the 1960s have waited a long time for you.
RETIREMENT SURVEY: From the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies annual retirement survey:
• The majority of workers surveyed – 56 percent – plan to work past age 65, including 43 percent who plan to work past age 70 or do not plan to retire.
• More than half – 54 percent – plan to continue working after they retire.
• Only 1 in 5 people surveyed has a back-up plan if forced into retirement sooner than expected.
FRIENDLY ADVICE: On the phone with a cable company the other morning, I felt the frustration building when I couldn’t clearly understand the questions the customer service representative was asking me.
In a bit of a snit, I asked: “Where are you located?”
The woman replied: “Asia.”
Just then, I remembered the wise words of a friend who once said that when we are on the phone with call centers located in other parts of the world, the person at the other end is forming his or her opinion of all Americans.
So the choice was between being a demanding and slightly condescending woman from the United States. Or a polite and respectful woman from the United States. I chose the latter, because of the conversation with the friend months ago.
COMPUTER AGE: The U.S. Census recently released a report on computer usage by age group. Nearly 4 in 10 people 65 and older do not have a computer in their home, and more than half never go on the Internet.
CLASS BEAUTY: My 92-year-old mother recently clipped an obituary out of the newspaper to show me the photos of the woman she described as “the most beautiful woman in her class at North Central.”
Indeed, Edythe Marie Bach was stunning in the younger woman photo with the obit and still a handsome woman in her later years, as the older-age photo attested to.
My mom still remembered this fact about “Ede” nearly 75 years after their high school days together. As high school reunion season begins, take this quick quiz.
• Smartest in your class?
• Most handsome?
• Person most likely to have risen above their chaotic childhood?
• Person least likely to have risen above?
• Person you’d still avoid?
• Person you’d love to talk to for hours?
SPEAKING OF HIGH SCHOOL: If you feel you didn’t live up to high school expectations, Google “late bloomers” and you’ll find stories about dozens of late-life bloomers, including the painters Grandma Moses, Rembrandt and Picasso.
A 2010 Psychology Today article looked at some late-bloomers, including Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin.
“Reflecting on his discovery at age 47, Fleming recalls, ‘When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.’ ”
THIS WEEK, A SAMPLING:
• Auditions for Lake City Playhouse’s “Damn Yankees,” tonight, 6:30 p.m., 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene, (208) 667-1323.
• Living history walking tours Tuesdays through Saturdays, presented by the Museum of North Idaho, departing from the museum at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., 115 Northwest Blvd., Coeur d’Alene, (208) 664-3448.
• Meeting of the Shuttlebirds Tatting Guild, a group that promotes and encourages interest in tatting (lace making), Saturday, noon to 3 p.m., Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, 4449 N. Nevada St., Spokane, (509) 487-9667.