Saturday, January 28, 2006

Time Travel

I am travelling in time this weekend.

The Time Tunnel has just been released on DVD, and for a few hours it is 1966 and I am nine years old again, anxiously looking forward to another Friday night on ABC with our little black-and-white television set. Where will Doug and Tony end up this time? Will they ever get home?

Vietnam was just something grown-ups were arguing about. The wonders and terrors of sex were a long way in the future. Our astronauts were practicing for the moon, and I couldn't wait for them to get there. Munich was six years away and unimaginable.

I was still reading The Happy Hollisters, but the magic was beginning to wear off. I didn't want to be Ricky any more, but Pete seemed much too old. And besides, something new beckoned: I had discovered chemistry.

Every day after school I'd head down to the basement, to make blue ink, or an exploding volcano, or turn water into wine. I ran electricity through water and made test tubes full of hydrogen and oxygen, then mixed them together and exploded them with a match. I put too much silver nitrate down the sink and ruined the porcelain. Once day I got a brilliant idea to make a hydrogen blowtorch, and probably would have lost an eye if I hadn't been wearing glasses. My parents never heard about that episode.

I raced through Glenn Seaborg's inspiring account of how he discovered elements beyond uranium. Science was the answer to the world's problems, I was sure. Science would take us to the stars, provide free power, and cure our diseases.

In real life, I am nursing a cold, watching the episodes on DVD with my children, one of whom is the same age I was in 1966. The cheesiness of the plots and the crappy movie sets don't bother us. My kids feel the same wonder at the possibility of zipping through the ages as I did.

I know it's 2006 in real life, but in my head it's forty years ago. My father is still alive, with a mind undamaged by Alzheimer's, and ready to answer my questions. Is time travel really possible, Dad? Will there be bases on the moon when I grow up? Will I go there? Will you come with me, Dad?

Who says you can't travel in time?


Anonymous said...


More posts like this please and not as much on all the small-minded people in this world.

A friend

John Farrell said...

I know what you mean. I was 5 when the Time Tunnel was on. My earliest memory of Star Trek, when it was prime time on NBC, was the 1966 episode, Charlie X.

And yeah, Vietnam was something they were always on about on the news. Didn't seem nearly as exciting to me as WWII....