As I recall, that day we’d had
a lunch of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, or it might have been balony sandwiches, and we’d looked at an old copy of Life magazine, which contained pictures from a movie called King Kong. It was about a really big gorilla, and we boys were pretty impressed.
We’d run around all day and were quiet now, at perhaps 2 in the afternoon, when we heard the neighbor lady call out.
Mrs. Miller seemed alarmed, and we followed her outside. We stood in amazement beside the fence, looking up. There was a jet-trail streaking across the sky, high, high in the clear blue.
As it happened, the iceman was just passing by, perhaps the last person in our town who used a horse to draw his wagon. The wagon was essentially a large box on tall wheels, unpainted wood, with the single, faded word ‘ICE’ on the side.
The wagon was stopped in the street, the horse resting with drooping head, in grazing position with nothing to graze on the pavement. The iceman gawked at the sky. The contrail turned into a new direction. We gasped.
Up and down the street, people were standing and staring. The iceman and the neighbor lady were talking. She thought it might be a UFO. We didn’t know what that meant, but it was something never seen before. What was it?
The iceman was excited. “Call Sheppard Air Force Base!” he cried out. The airbase was in Wichita Falls, 20 miles to the north. The neighborhood lady paused.
“That’s long distance,” she said. Calling long-distance just wasn’t done. It was very, very expensive. She dithered, finally going into her house to call the Sherrif.
High above, in the pale blue and beyond the slight haze of summer, the contrail soared, far above sight. What was it?
Nobody knew. We didn’t realize that we were gazing not into the sky, but into the future.