Friday, August 3, 2012

Tire Tracks in the Sand

Opening the door for exploration from Goshen, Alabama, to space and beyond
by Warren W.

It was one of those quiet, lazy days that offered delicious anticipation to those children willing to take on an adventure. The year was sometime around 1920 and the location was rural Alabama, near the little town of Goshen.

Typically, families of that era were large, and my father’s family was no exception. On that particular day, my father Woodrow and several of his Wilson siblings decided to take a walk down the dusty, dirt road over to the main road to view what to them would be a worthy reward for their effort.

It was nearly a three-mile walk in one direction, but that didn’t matter to the young explorers. There, mixed in among the buggy and wagon tracks at the well-traveled main road, the youngsters hoped to find the thing they sought – an automobile tire track. The hardy group was completely satisfied simply to see evidence where one of the new automobile contraptions had passed.

Many decades later, my father used this story from his early childhood to illustrate to me just how far technology had come and the profound way it had changed all of our lives.

Recently, I stood as a spectator on a sandy beach in Florida and watched as Space Shuttle Endeavour launched skyward. At first the craft was a giant, roaring beast eager to escape the bonds of earth.  Then moments later, it was reduced to a tiny speck disappearing in the distance.

When the spectacle was over, I began to walk across the beach in the direction of my hotel. As I pondered what I had just seen, thoughts of Dad came to me. I wondered about those feelings of awe experienced by him and his barefoot companions after their long trek to view simple tire tracks in the sand. Could their emotions experienced so long ago match those I felt after viewing a launch into space of the most sophisticated flying machine ever built?

Deep in thought, I continued my path on the beach and almost overlooked what surely must have been a sign from the past. There, in an out-of-the-way spot where a few scattered weeds pushed their way through an area of hard-packed sand, someone had driven onto the beach and left something behind – tire tracks in the sand.