Forty years ago - December 24, 1968 I was an 11 year old 6th grader at Our Lady of Lourdes parochial school in Toledo, Ohio. I sang alto in the school girls choir and midnight Mass on Christmas Eve was one of the biggest nights of the year for us. But that's not the reason I remember that particular evening - what I do remember happened thousands of miles away from the choir loft at the church on Hill Ave. Before we left for Mass , I was glued to the television watching grainy pictures of the most maginificent sight I'd ever seen in my young life - it was the earth rising over the horizon of the moon. Apollo 8 was broadcasting the pictures - live - it was startling. For those too young to remember - there were no hubble telescopes, or space stations, no manned craft had ever left earth's orbit, the technology that we take for granted today that sends us pictures and videos from the outer reaches of our solar system was unimaginable in 1968. This was the first time we were seeing our planet, our home, it was amazing. What made it moving was the crackling voices of the Apollo 8 astronauts reading verses 1- 10 from the book of Genesis - then mission commander Frank Borman saying: "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."
This Wednesday night when I head for the 9 p.m. Mass at St. Maria Goretti Church in Arlington, I'll look up at the sky as I do every Christmas Eve and remember that night. I'll remember the enthusiam a generation of youngsters like myself drew from the space program. More importantly I'll remember the good things in my life, the family and friends that I love - the ones who aren't here anymore that I still miss - and be grateful for the gift of life and eternal promise of hope for all of us on the "good earth".
I'll be back in January (unless JD makes one of his last - minute - right- before- the - holiday trades).
Peace and happiness to all of you this holiday season -- Marla Hooch
Added 12/24: P.S. - Be sure to click on the link and read an article written by our favorite baseball writer about another of our favorite baseball friends: T.R. Sullivan on Grant Schiller