The following is a true story.
It was 1957, I was eight,when my father showed me a rectangular card with blue and silver graphics of two astronauts in spacesuits and helmets. They were holding oxygen tanks, walking on a white surface in boxy-looking yellow boots. “Guess what this is,” he whispered.
“Why are we whispering?”
“Because it’s a secret. If you promise not to tell, I’ll let you in on it.
“I promise,” I said.
“It’s a ticket from Pan Am for the first space shuttle to the moon,” he said.
“You’re going to the moon?” I whispered. “When?
“As soon as I can.”
“What about me? Can I come too?” I pleaded. “You can’t go without me!”
“Sh-h-h. I have four tickets—one for each of us. We’re all going. But don’t tell your mother. She’ll think I’m nuts.”
Pan Am, a now defunct airline, was offering seats for civilians on their first commercial flight to the moon, first come, first serve.
My father had written them the following note:
Gentlemen: I wish to reserve four (4) seats, first-class, for your first trip to the moon. Please advise when we can make this trip and how much luggage we would be permitted to carry.
In two weeks, he received a signed confirmation letter with 4 tickets. We were members of the First Moon Flights Club. It was all very official and exciting but I was pretty sure my mother would be a hard sell. The Pan Am confirmation letter read:
Dear Moon First Flighter,
Thank you for your confidence that Pan Am will pioneer commercial space travel, as it so often has here on Earth. We have every intention of living up to this confidence.
The enclosed cards confirm this intent, and formally recognize your intrepid spirit. It also reflects by serial number your family’s position of record on our Waitlist for First Moon Flights. (All requests are handled in order of date received.
Starting date of service is not yet known. Equipment and route will be subjected to government approvals. Fares are not fully resolved and may be “out of this world.” We ask you to be patient while these essentials are worked out. They are necessary requirements before we may accept deposits or make confirmed reservations.
Meanwhile, we plan to keep you informed of all important developments.
Again, thank you for coming to Pan Am first. That’s exactly what we intend to be. On earth. To the moon. Any place else.
Sincerely, James Montgomery
Vice President, Sales
I didn’t know what “intrepid” meant, but I was sure it described my father, who loved showing me mysterious worlds that I never imagined existed. He died in 1990. He never made it to the moon, but he showed me that dreaming big was the way to go in life. There is just so much possibility. Maybe he’s looking down from the moon right now. I hope so.