When I was a boy in Iowa, growing up in the 1960’s, I remember being seriously infected by the notion that true heroes were like Astroboy. I watched the show on a black and white Motorola TV every day at four after we got home from school. Astro could fly. He was super-strong. He could battle the evil monsters and machine men from my worst nightmares and always come out the winner. And though he was a robot, he was a boy like me. I thought a lot about Astroboy and I played Astroboy games with my friend Lester in our back yard. The theme song played over and over in my head.
The Astroboy March
Music by Tatsuo Takei; Lyrics by Don Rockwell
There you go, Astroboy, on your flight into space.
Rocket hi—-gh, through the sk—-y
For adventures soon you will face.
Astroboy bombs away,
On your mission today,
Here’s the count—-down,
And the blast—-off,
Everything is go, Astroboy!
Astroboy, as you fly,
Strange new worlds you will spy,
Atom ce—-lled, jet pro—-pel—-led
Fighting monsters high in the sky,
Astroboy, there you go, will you find friend or for,
Cosmic ran—-ger, laugh at dan—-ger, everything is go, Astroboy!
Crowds will cheer you, you’re a he—-ro, as you go, go, go, Astroboy!
What can I say? I was a stupid child with an imagination easily manipulated by television. My world consisted of Astroboy every afternoon, Red Skelton on Wednesday nights, and Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday evenings. I cried for the Astroboy characters who sometimes suffered and died during the adventure. I cringed when Astrogirl stumbled into danger. But I knew in my stupid heart that everything would be all right in the end.
When President Kennedy was murdered, or when the Apollo Astronauts burned, I didn’t really feel those events. I still thought a happy ending would come to save the day. I believed that I had the power to make things right the way Astroboy did. I was doomed to learn the hard way.
I had heard from my friends about weird things that a fifteen-year-old neighbor would do sometimes. I understood that he liked to “do things” to younger boys. I should have been scared to death of him. But, the cosmic ranger laughs at danger. I was ten when he caught me near his yard. He forced me down into a hidden place behind a pile of old truck tires. He got my pants and underpants down and forced me to stop fighting. I remember it as pain and shame and horror. It was a monster I never dreamed of, and no one came to my rescue.
We used to believe that the future held undiscovered treasures and wonder. We believed that when a hero was needed, one would always step forward. I wanted to be that hero. I would go forward, however, wondering if it all led to an unhappy ending. “Crowds will cheer you, you’re a hero, as you go, go, go, Mickeyboy!
(I should confess that this is an old post written in 2007. It was at a time when I was finally ready and able to talk about what happened to me 40 years before. My attacker has since died of a heart attack, and though he was never held accountable for his actions, I have forgiven him. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Strong like Astroboy.)