A Few Sweet Memories & the Moon Goons
My Grandpa and Grandma moved to California in the summer of 1972; I was not quite eight years of age. They were leaving the cold, snowy winters and the hot, humid summers of Wisconsin for the easier climate of California. They had visited several times and liked the warm weather. I was very close to them both; they had even bought my first wheelchair when I was a toddler on one such visit. Within a few months, they had found good jobs and a comfortable home to rent until their home was being built. One of the interesting things about going to spend the night with them is that there was a party line on the phone. I believe they shared the line with two other households. Each home had a different series of rings, like their own Morse code. When there was a call coming in, the households who shared the party line had to listen carefully. It was also quite possible that the conversations could be easily overheard; it was also quite possible that the call could be instantly interrupted by a strange voice because someone had to make a call or was getting a call. The trade-off was that the party line was considerably cheaper. It was also the age of rotary or dial phones. Many of you may be too young to recall these phones. They looked like this in the early 70’s. Dialing was much slower than, but it was a time of innovation and exploration. The push button phone started appearing a year or two later.
It was a time when the moon was just being explored; it was a time when scientists, astronauts and much of the world was enthralled with that orb that we can easily view in the night sky on a black, mostly cloudless night. Watching moon landings and astronaut walks was reality – must see TV. Now, I have set the scene for you, the reader. I spent the night with Grandpa and Grandma, as I often did. After supper, I played a hot game of Kismet with Grandma. Kismet was a dice game, very similar to Yahtzee. After a cutthroat game or 2, Grandpa invited me to the backpack patio because something very rare and special was going to happen, the two of us were going to take part in a unique ceremony; the Moon goons were going to come and eat the moon! To put it mildly, I was quite bewildered by this statement – sky monsters on their way to eat moon? What on earth?! Before I joined Grandpa on the patio, I just had to call my mother and tell her about this strange event! “Mom! You will never believe it in a million years; the Moon goons were going to come to eat the moon!” She asked, “Who told you that?” I could hear the snicker in her voice, and I was slightly offended that she did not seem to believe me. I told her that I would call after they ate eat the moon! After all, if Grandpa said so, it was going to happen! By now, Mom was laughing so hard that she could hardly catch her breath. I told her that I loved her and I would call later.
Soon, it was nearly dark, and we were ready. It was a bright, full moon. Grandpa started pacing and bouncing a tiny rubber ball. “Calling all Moon goons; we are ready for you to come and eat the moon.” I joined in, hoping they would come even faster if we both called out to them. Quite some time passed. Grandma’s voice was calling, “Daddy, will you join me for a moment, please?” (She always referred to him in this manner when their children/ grandchildren were around.)
It turns out that Grandpa had the wrong night. He explained to me about a lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, it was not going to occur until the following night. He explained that he was trying to make the event fun for me. I will admit that I was disappointed that there were no such things as monsters who ate the moon. But, I enjoyed the fun of it and learning about eclipses. Most of all, I loved spending the time with a precious man gone much too soon, my Grandpa.