The People Speak In This Week’s ‘Letters To The Editor’

Hey, Joe! There Was Another ‘Penny’ On Television Before Your Penny Showed Up!

Hi Paul:

     When I was in college my friend Joe Comiskey told me about a sci-fi show he was a fan of, a mid-1960s TV show I’d never seen before–Lost in Space. Many of your readers will remember this show that started out as a serious look at a Space Family Robinson, but that quickly degenerated into a goofy, campy interplanetary comedy dominated by the treacherous, cowardly Dr. Zachary Smith and the family’s clever and versatile Robot. For Joe, however, there was another star of the show.

     While no doubt many teenage boys drooled over the oldest Robinson girl, blond-haired Judy, my friend preferred the middle child–dark-haired Penny, played by Angela Cartwright (Angela also played one of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music). Although I remember a reference to Sky King and Penny in the Tribune a number of years ago, not until this week’s two-page article on the popular 1950s TV show, did I really learn about this earlier Penny or how popular she was. (And I thought my knowledge of mid-twentieth century popular culture was pretty advanced.) But then again, Joe and I were born at the end of the Eisenhower era. I must admit that seeing the pictures of Penny in your article made me wish momentarily that I was eighteen again!

     Anyway, Paul, I greatly enjoyed the article. I will have to tell my friend Joe that there was a Penny on TV predating the one his boyhood self had given his heart to.

Michael C.Tirpak, Springfield

Remembering The First Men On The Moon

Dear Editor:

     Those of us old enough to remember the first men on the moon probably also remember exactly where we were as we watched history unfold on television. I was fortunate in that I had a fairly different perspective. While in the Army, I served as Exec. Officer for US Army Cape Kennedy Outport (USACKO) from June, 1968 to March, 1969. We ran the military (Cape Kennedy) side of Port Canaveral. From our vantage point of loading or off-loading ships, we were “up close and personal” with many rocket and missile launchings – including the Apollo series. Apollo was a Granddaddy of all rockets. When it ignited, we were close enough that the pulsations would literally make our ribs vibrate in the same rhythm (as the pulsations) and our hearts would beat wildly. It was like a drug made from noise and concussion.

     Fast-forward to July 20, 1969, and I am stationed in Busan, S. Korea. Korea is almost exactly 12 hours ahead of Central Time, so while those of you in the Decatur area were watching during the night, we were watching this historic event during the day – 12 hours ahead of you. We’d assembled, about a dozen of us, in a Quonset hut dripping with humidity and the always present faint odor of sewer – or not-too-distant rice paddies. We had a small b&w TV tuned to the only Korean TV station for a picture, while we listened to the audio over Armed Forces Korean Network.

     “We” were a mixture of Non-Coms, Korean civilian employees (DAKS) and myself. Among our group was Mr. Chu, my #1 Korean employee. He was a short, always smiling, stout man who had been a LT. in the Korean Army during the Korean Conflict.

     As Neil Armstrong placed his foot on the lunar surface, Mr. Chu proposed a toast, which I will never forget. “We Koreans look at the moon and paint pretty pictures and write pretty words. Russians look at the moon and they brag, brag, brag. But you Americans, you are really something. You look at the moon – and you go there.”

     Maybe you can get a sense of the feelings I had, we all shared, at that moment. America. We’d helped save the world in WWII. We were the first (and the most) to help S. Korea during the Korean Conflict, and we were maintaining our promise to never desert them. (There is a large UN cemetery in Busan, and most of those buried there are Americans).

     Fifty years have now come and gone since that historic day. I will never forget the Apollo launches live from the Cape, Apollo 11 and Neil and Buzz walking on the moon. But, I will also never forget Mr. Chu and his spontaneous toast on that memorable day, July 20, 1969. God Bless America. And God Bless Mr. Chu, wherever you may be.

Larry E. Grabb, Noblesville, IN (Formerly of Decatur, IL)

Column About ‘Perpetually Offended’ Was Reminder Of What Jesus Said To His Disciples

Dear Editor:

     Reading your column today about the “perpetually offended” reminded me what Jesus said to his disciples when they asked him about the signs of His coming and the last days. One was that many would be offended and would hate and betray each other. Matthew 24. That describes pretty well what we are seeing today. I pray nightly for our country.

Justine Bratcher, Harristown 

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