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. I thought a lot about Astroboy and I played Astroboy games with my friend Larry 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 know that this is not a very funny post. I get that way at times when diabetes gives me depression, and I am confronted by some of the really hard things that I faced in the past. But I still believe in happy endings, Disney movies, the Wizard of Oz, and… Astroboy. It is the power of our past, earned by trial and error, that lets us bash the monsters in our future.