Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Star Trek, Part 1

One of my earliest memories is of watching the "Operation: Annihilate!" episode of Star Trek--what people now call Star Trek the Original Series. Since it was broadcast on April 13, 1967, I was only two and a half years old. The show was very appealing to a young child such as myself because there were lots of garish colors, both in the uniforms and the sets. I remember my mother babysitting for a pair of twins named Matt and Mark, and they had shirts with traffic lights on their left breasts. I used to call them their Star Trek shirts. I had one with a bear on the left breast, but the shirt was black so it didn't qualify.

In the 1970s, Star Trek made a big comeback in syndication. Daily reruns allowed those of us in Mrs. Burkholder's third grade class to discover Star Trek's imaginitive adventure and to recreate it in pretend play. We used to take the cardboard backs of our notebooks and draw phasers and communicators on them. Then we would cut them out with scissors and use them as props on the playground at recess. We were even more excited when the cartoon began that fall, as if it had given us license to create our own Star Trek adventures. We loved the fights, the ray guns, and the action of Star Trek. We didn't get that the point of science fiction was to create allegory and parables from which to learn, but the show gave us plenty of excitement nonetheless.

My brother and I, on one of our trips to our grandparents' house, received matching Mego action figures of Kirk and Spock, and together we had many adventures on distant planets. I don't know how many times we re-enacted "Amok Time," but it counted in the hundreds. We also got one of the first trade paperbacks when we found the Enterprise Logs in a bookstore. The trade reprinted the old Gold Key Star Trek series. We read that thing dog-eared.

For Christmas in 1976, Jeff and I got matching phaser pistols from our father. They were the coolest toys for the time. When you pressed the trigger, it made a chirping sound, which was more like a communicator than a phaser, but we didn't care. The phasers were also projectors that, using a cutout that you slid over the lens, projected a picture of a ship on the wall. I remember they took a nine-volt battery in the handles for the sound, and two double A's in the back for the light. My dad probably regretted getting us noise-making toys for Christmas, but the phaser remains one of my favorite toys of childhood. When I moved in with him a month later, Star Trek was still in reruns and I was lucky enough to find a book from the library, called The Making of Star Trek, by Stephen Whitfield. My dog ate the cover of the paperback so we had to buy the book, but I sure didn't regret it. I was able to check off all the episodes of Star Trek that I had yet to see. We only had a black and white TV, but it didn't matter. I knew what color everybody wore! In my spare time, I created my own starship based on some of the production drawings in the book. I crewed the ship with superheroes, so that made for some interesting daydreams, to be sure. It wasn't until later that I started to get the deeper meaning behind the show, but that time would come. And that understanding only reinforced my love for this show.

More to come.


Wendy said...

I remember those phasers! WOW, really had to dust off the archives in my brain, but I remember them. They were SOOO cool. Atleast they were to me. I remember there were different pictures you could shine on the wall. The only one I can remember though is the starship Enterprise...What else was there? I know there was something like 6 different pictures you could do. I just dont remember them.

KC Ryan said...

:) lIke this!