FC: Rocket Boys
2: Captain retired and my father took his charge and i was 11 years old. So the captain's house became our house. | i really loved that house because for the first time i didn't have to share the room with Jim. Jim always blamed for me for the tension between our parents because from the story i heard, my father wanted daughter but me, a son, came out.
3: So my mother named me Homer Hadley Hickam Junior. I was sad that i had name like that but my mom called me sunny and it changed to sonny.
4: After my nine years of classes in the coalwood school i went to Big Creek, district high school, for my tenth through twelfth grade | i started to meet and make lots of new friend on my own but my best friends always remained same: Roy Lee, Sherman and O'Dell. Then one day, my mom woke me up and took me downstairs where the radio and my breakfast were. in the radio, it said about thing called sputnik.
5: I knew exactly what was sputnik. it is a space satellite that orbits around the world like moon. i couldn't believe that Russian beat American in space. i also worried about what my father's response will be. Sputnik was on the radio for all day long in that day. By Monday morning, almost everyone talked about Sputnik. Johnny Villiani even talked directly to students that we have to study harder and harder so we can catch up Russian and made beeping sound over and over. Hearing that, i kept thinking how would Russian kids will react with Sputnik and envied them.
6: I almost missed the bus thinking deeply about Russian kids. My brother, Jim, dressed really well like usual. He was known as the best dressed boy in this school. As i believe, everyday me and Jim brawled each other. Our last fight was so scary that we had uneasy truce. | The fight began when my brother saw that my bike was lying on his backyard. my bike's kickstand which help my bike not to fall, broke so it fell down on top of Jim's backyard. He was so furious that threw my bike on the creek and stomped into my room.
7: He was like, 'If anything of yours ever touches anything of mine again, I'll beat the ever-loving hell out of you!' So i launched myself to him, falling downstairs and howling. He chased me into kitchen and tackled me. My ribs were so hurt. it ached for a month. I gave some nice damages to Jim too. When my mom came home, dogs took the blame instead of us for the screen door. 'Either mom never noticed it or chose not to mention the dent in her pot.'
8: On the First day of school after Sputnik happened, i got on the bus with Jim. i shifted in beside Linda DeHaven and Margie Jones, who were in my class since the first grade. i could see O'Dell upfront of the bus. i also could see Sherman ,who is muscular and had a polio, just behind him. | Roy Lee got on the bus at the next bus stop. Roy Lee is really different with the rest of us. He even had his own car which he bought it with the money that they got it from insurance settlement because his dad died in the mine.
9: i was so happy to have friends like O'Dell, Sherman and Roy Lee. In my first grade year, i was treated with my father's position | Union fathers treated my dad as enemy and kids from those families often wanted a revenge. Jim was always bigger than the other kids in his class and was known for his terrible temper so they couldn't hurt him. So i was their target.
10: i never mentioned or complained about always coming back home with all blood on my face because that was the coalwood way. They never carried their tales. when we get to school, we usually have an hour to spent before the classes so we often go to auditorium to switch homeworks or watch girls parade. That morning, i wanted to talk with them about Algebra but it was difficult to do that because they were all talking about Sputnik. Sherman asked, 'i wonder what it is like to be a Russian?'
11: And Roy Lee said, 'My daddy said the Russians ate their own babies in the war and it was a good thing the Germans attacked them. He said we should have joined the Germans and kicked their tails. Then we wouldn't be having so much trouble with them now.' The stories went on and O'Dell eyeing a senior cheerleader changed the subject about her. Feeling desperately, i said, 'Did anybody get the algebra?'. The other three just looked at me and Roy Lee finally asked if we got English so we traded and copied English and Math. We don't call it cheating because that was the only way to get credit for math class.
12: Sputnik became a topic in the biology class. We were doing worm dissection and i luckily managed to get Dorothy Plunk as the partner. | I think Dorothy Plunk is the most beautiful girl in the school in my opinion. 'she also had a budding figure that made me feel as if i was going to explode.' i wanted to talk to her and managed to just say hi a few times but i still did not get a chance to start a real conversation with her.
13: Then my principle, Mr. R. L. Turner, talked some stuff about Sputnik. Roy Lee asked me if i asked her a date. 'Do you think she'd go out with me?' i asked. Roy Lee said, 'I got a car, and it's got a backseat. I'm your driver anytime you want.' Then Emily Sue Buckberry who was Dorothy's best friend, talked to me that Dorothy already has two boyfriends that one is in college. i was confused to love Dorothy anymore. Emily kept worrying about me and Roy Lee kept saying go on with Dorothy but i just ignored them like they were part of the wall.
14: 'Brother Jim was a fury on the football field. He played tackle on offense and linebacker on defense, and opposing quarterbacks ran from him like scared rabbits.' At that time any player good as Jim was scarce. Because of Jim's success in football and my father's love for him, my father became a president of the Big Creek Football Father's Association. My mom asked my father to bring me to play football but my father ignored. I knew the reason. I did not play well as other kid. The one thing i know exactly was that i was terribly nearsighted. My mom sobbed and other moms comforted her when i had and eye test and proudly said 'E!'
15: 'At that fall, the Welch Daily News and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph were filled with stories of our American scientists and engineers at Cape Canaveral in Florida, desperately working to catch up with the Russians.' I felt really exciting because i thought all my stories from science fictions are becoming true. When i hear the radio, there was one scientist that they have been talking lots of time. Dr. Wernher von Braun. I saw him in the tv program where he said he could make a satellite and make it orbit in thirty days during his interview. That night before going to bed, i thought about him. I thought him working with many scientists to make rockets and i wanted to be with him.
16: When there was papers in the town saying that Sputnik will fly, i decided to see it fly, | because i strongly desired for it. So i told everyone that they could come to our backyard to watch sputnik flying over west Virginia with me. At that night, many people came including my friends. I was little worried because Sputnik could not fly.
17: Then Roy Lee sat down beside me and started talking to me about Dorothy. After some conversation, O'Dell suddenly screamed, 'Sputnik!'. I could see it. A silvery bright ball flying over the mountain. I kept thinking about Sputnik on the bed. i heard the noises coming from outside of my house. I saw black shadows walking down toward the mine. They are inspecting something. In my imagination, the shadows become Dr. von Braun and his co-workers. They are walking around the moon as the first American in the moon. I felt really happy when i thought that could be me. Then suddenly, my imagination goes off and they became as mine workers as they always do.
18: On November 3, the Russians launched another satellite called Sputnik two but this time they launched it with a dog named Laika. My father always brings magazines. He reads them and then it is my turn. That day issue of magazine called Life was all about rockets. | They drew cool pictures about rockets too. 'An inspiration came to me.' After reading the magazine, i announced that i am going to build a rocket too. Jim, thinking that was sister's things to do, just laughed at me and my father did not even cared about it.I am not sure if he even heard me saying that. I gathered Roy Lee, Sherman and O'Dell in my room and started to say that we will build a rocket.
19: I told them we are going to launch it in my mom's rose garden and O'Dell, whose father is a garbageman, said he can get some stuff that we need for building rocket. Then Sherman asked me if i know how to build rocket and i showed them a Life magazine. When we all sat down in the circle, 'I appointed myself chief rocket designer.' We started to make rocket and when the night came we lighted the match and flew it. 'Blast off!' A miner saw our rocket flew. He said our rocket looked amazing but problem was 'it wasn't our rocket that streaked into that dark, cold, clear, and starry night. It was my mother's rose-garden fence.'