Hell of a Guy

October Sky…


“October Sky” was a 1999 movie based on the book “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickam who grew up in the coal mining country, namely McDowell County, West Virginia.  Homer became fascinated with rocketry after the 1957 launch of Sputnik, the first Russian satellite. 

I was doing my hour treadmill routine yesterday and watched the last half hour of this movie.  I have seen this one a couple of times and fell in love with the story.  I, too, have had a fascination with all things connected to Space Exploration.  The difference being, Homer did something with his, even though his father thought it a complete waste of time, and I did nothing.

Most young men growing up back in the 50s and 60s in coal mining country ended up in the mines, and that is where John Hickam, Homer’s dad, worked as a mine boss.  It was, and probably still is in some places, a way of life people in this state understand, and it is generational.  Homer was different; he believed he could make it above ground, and followed his dream.

Homer and his buddies entered their rocket in a science fair and moved along to a national level – cutting to the chase.  I began watching at the scene where Homer is at wherever the fair took place.  He is called up to the stage completely shocked he and his buddies won first place.  On his way back to his seat after collecting the First Place medal he is congratulated by some college people offering him scholarships and others.  A reporter asks him, “What did he say to you?”  Homer says, “Who?”  And the reporter says “Werner Von Braun!”  Homer turned around to see Von Braun, but he was gone.

The very next scene is the one that got me.  Homer is going home through the mine area where his dad works.  He asks his mother to stop the car when he sees his father.  His dad tells Homer at least Homer got to meet his hero – Von Braun.  Homer says, “He is not my hero,” and goes on to tell his dad he wants to be the man his father is – his dad being his true hero.

As I write this it just doesn’t feel the same as when I watched it with tears rolling down my cheeks, if you can imagine a 65-year old man on a treadmill sweating up a storm choking back tears.  I am a sucker for all things sentimental, and especially those reminding me of my own dad, who I would be more than happy if I were just half the man he was.

And that is all I have to say about that…

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