Summer continues to fly by. We’re just three-and-a-half weeks from school beginning. Today is our annual trip an hour north to watch the girls’ cousin show his pigs at his county fair. Taking the city kids to the county fair is always fun!

Last week we watched Apollo 13. The act of watching it was nearly as epic as the flight of Apollo 13. One of the girls learned about the flight at school way back in the winter. When I told them there was a movie about it, they all wanted to watch it. I checked our library’s website, saw the Blu Ray was checked out but due back soon, so I put a Hold on it. We were first in line. I told the girls we’d probably get to watch it in a week or so. That week went by, no disk. Then another. And another. And another. I’d check every few days to see our hold status still listed as pending, and the disk showing it was past due. After about six weeks, we figured whoever had it lost it or damaged it to the point where it was unusable. We kind of forgot about it, never even checking Amazon to rent it there. Then on July 8 I finally got the notice that the disk was available for pickup. Weird.

The girls liked it a lot. There were many moments of me having to explain different parts of it. After the movie, I looked on several sites to see how much dramatic license Ron Howard took with the story to translate it to film. I was pleased that with minor exceptions, and a few composite characters, the movie was pretty faithful to the real story.

I also had to explain to them what the space shuttle was! How crazy is that? I remember first reading books about space and astronauts in first or second grade, when the Apollo program wasn’t that far in the past, and the space shuttle was undergoing tests. Now our kids are growing up in an age where regular, manned space flight doesn’t exist.

Talking through the Apollo 13 flight, and the history of space flight in general, got me thinking about a meme from a couple weeks ago that was popular around the web: what was the first major news story that you remember? Common responses from folks in my general age range were the Iran hostage crisis and the Challenger disaster.

My mom worked at a TV station in the late 70s. And I had a TV in my room as early as when I was 7.[1] So I was watching Walter Cronkite on a nightly basis from a pretty early age. After thinking it through, I’m pretty sure the first major news event I have vivid memories of was the Jonestown massacre in November 1978. That’s a fun one to have stuck in your head.

Our girls have a very different connection with the news than I did as a kid. My grandparents always had the radio tuned to the local station and shushed everyone at the top of each hour for the news bulletin. My mom’s parents sat at their kitchen table all day with the TV on. Lunch and dinner were consumed to the noon and 6:00 news. And then I always had the news on in my room once I got my own TV.

We rarely watch the news with our girls. We don’t get a newspaper. And so many of the major news stories of this summer are ones we discuss quietly away from their ears. I wonder what major event they will remember most when they get older and look back on their childhoods.

  1. Benefits of being a *Latchkey Kid*: I guess my mom figured an old black-and-white TV in my bedroom would keep me out of trouble.  ↩