In July of 1969 I was a freshly minted high school graduate.
My parents had presented me with a “graduation surprise” a family trip to Europe.
My mother and father had travelled to Spain in the 1960 on a well documented business trip on TWA.
While my dad had been abroad thanks to WWII my mom’s first trip made her into a enthusiastic traveller.
Both parents were shocked when the special surprise received a surly response, ” I don’t want to see any of that Louis
Flouis Stuff….” I was referring to the proposed trip in the Loire valley.
I had already made my post graduated summer plans.The fall of my senior year I had taken a job working at the Explorers Club on 70th Street in Manhattan.
While there I became the acolyte of the director Maynard Miller. Dr Miller had invited me to Alaska to assist his wife in Juneau as a part of the support team for their annual science expedition on the ice fields and glaciers behind the capital city.
In that willy nilly juvenile way , I had committed to this adventure and planned to work out the details….. eventually.
When my parents gave consent it was with the agreement that I should accompany them to Europe and leave early to make my to Alaska.
I should have been filled with gratitude.I managed to enrage them enough on the trip (torturing my sister and impatient with the glories of France) to be let out of the car more than once. We did make it to Normandy something I would not have missed. My War Hero father landed on Omaha beach twice on DDay and to be with him as the memories of that day were unlocked was priceless.
I had cobbled together a trip which involved a flight from London to Montreal and a three day train journey across Canada , the railway offered the service for around 150 dollars. I charmed the retired travellers with my stories and was often fed by an unbelieving seniors who were shocked to see a teen age city kid alone, unleashed on the world .The trip was memorable punctuated by great shifts in the landscape and my arrival in the pacific northwest to catch a ferry up the inland waterway. I had no lodging in Prince Rupert and slept, in a rather rough town, on the docks waiting for the ferry to arrive.
Juneau was a hilly pocket the superhighway ran 12 miles from the airport to town The street were narrow and it was immediately discovered I lacked the most necessary skill for my job in Juneau. I could not drive. Dr Miller’s patient wife Joan and some other seasoned members of the team had me up and running on stick shift vw bus and I still am proud of my Alaska drivers licence and plates which I have til this day.
I mastered driving and passed my test in time to participate in the most memorable part of the summer.
July 17 I celebrated my 18th birthday while the astronauts had departed the earth on the 16th. Part of my job involved driving to a heliport three time per day to communicate with the scientists on the ice field over a cb radio. The musical call letters knd3035 come to my mind more often than most people recall the lords prayer. The thrice daily contacts were designed to secure information about supplies needed and pass messages to the camps scattered across the glacier .On my birthday week the radio contacts were more significant, my interpretation of the news about the space mission was the only way the scientists, could be kept abreast momentous the events.Nothing occupies a larger place in my heart and memory that the small role I played in the fantastic drama unfolding the summer of my 18th year.Sometimes I have wondered about the time line …how I missed Woodstock and other events that defined my generation.I was well on the way to a full life ,forged in the summer of 1969 when the when a generation chose the famous earth rise photo over the mushroom cloud. We were “replacing and image of fear with an image of hope ” Stuart Brand

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