Meteor Memories

Great Aunt Hope (Grammy's youngest sister), Mom standing behind me, Grammy, Aunt Esther standing behind Tracy and Nancy. Spring 1969 at Hershey Gardens.

Great Aunt Hope (Grammy’s youngest sister), Mom standing behind me, Grammy, Aunt Esther standing behind Tracy and Nancy. Spring 1969 at Hershey Gardens.

Jim is out on a run and, stuck inside with a bad cold, I am left to many wandering thoughts and much watching of the television. The meteor that has recently been in the news for the damage its sonic boom caused on February 15 got me thinking of a meteor I experienced the summer I was 6 years old.

So many of the people in Russia that were injured from shattering glass had gone to nearby windows to see what had made such a bright light. The delay of the sonic boom caused the windows to shatter, injuring many people. I recalled a book I made documenting my 1968 experience (perhaps one of the 1968 Tau or Sigma Capricornids?) and remembered that I had even mentioned the sonic boom it made afterward. It made me wonder just how delayed these sonic booms are and made reference to my personal record of it.

The history of my family is that I was raised in a house which my grandfather had built and my father was born in. He and his two much older sisters were raised there. His eldest sister, Esther, married and built a house next to it.

Front cover of my Meteor Book.

Front cover of my Meteor Book.

My father, after moving to Washington DC, marrying my mother and being laid off from the FBI, returned to this home. I was two when my grandmother gave us her home and moved next door to live with Esther and her family.
Back cover with exact date and time written in by Mom (thank you!)

Back cover with exact date and time written in by Mom (thank you!)

The neighborhood kids I grew up with first were mostly family. My cousins Kathryn, Becky and Nancy were all older than me. With my father being much younger than Esther, her firstborn, Kathryn, was not more than a decade younger than he was. I always saw Kathryn and Becky as very grown up and sophisticated. Nancy was the closest to my age being just 3 years my elder. My sister Tracy was born just before I turned three.

Page 1, "Aunt Esther was spraying the garden." Aunt Esther in a pink dress, me in a green striped shirt.

Page 1, “Aunt Esther was spraying the garden.” Aunt Esther in a pink dress, me in a green striped shirt.

Our families spent a lot of time together, in each other’s homes and shared back yards. No fence separated what was a grand grassy yard that was great for games of kickball, badminton, hide and seek and tag. With the matriarch, Grammy to me, living in Esther’s home there was plenty of reason for extended family to frequently visit too.

July 2, 1968
Page 2, " Suddenly a ig light, scared me out of my whits (sic)." I saw my wits something like glasses I dropped on the sidewalk.

Page 2, ” Suddenly a ig light, scared me out of my whits (sic).” I saw my wits something like glasses I dropped on the sidewalk.


It was just at sunset that warm Tuesday evening that my Aunt Esther started watering her vegetable garden. I stood with her chatting for at least 10 minutes, probably catching lightning bugs as we shared an amicable moment. I wonder now if we were talking about any upcoming Fourth of July plans because our families shared not only a common backyard but many group picnics. Fourth of July would have been one of those dates that would bring even more family together with at least 8 cousins gamboling around the grassy lawn and popping in and out of the two neighboring Lukens’ homesteads.

My exact memory of the moment the meteor came over was that I was standing to the right of my Aunt Esther. She was sticking her thumb in the end of the hose to make it spray a mist onto the garden when a ball of fiery light streaked from East to West, in the sky just North above us.

Page 3, "Tracy did you see it" Tracy in similar shirt but blue striped.

Page 3, “Tracy did you see it” Tracy in similar shirt but blue striped.

Aunt Esther gave out a small gasp/scream which seemed to set me on alert that what I saw was dangerous, scary or unusual. I ran directly toward her back porch and door that lead into her kitchen. I can remember my feet pounding on the poured cement sidewalk as fast as I could go. Our house was farther away so I was making a beeline to safety, their back porch light held my focus.

I don’t remember my younger sister standing on the small cement porch but I trust all of the chronology and details of my illustration in the book to be true. I must have asked if she had seen it before bolting into their kitchen.

Page 4, "I saw a big light Nancy." My arms gesturing wildly to Nancy in solid blue.

Page 4, “I saw a big light Nancy.” My arms gesturing wildly to Nancy in solid blue.

Nancy was there and I remember exclaiming to her and then Becky came in to hear what was going on. I cannot remember some details that the drawings and my Mom’s memory bring to light. I think the girls were all doing their hair because I know the drawing of Nancy walking me home has curlers in her hair. She would have been eight and a half years old.

Page 5, "Then Becky came in" Becky in purple, Tracy being protected by Nancy as I raise my hands over my head for description.

Page 5, “Then Becky came in” Becky in purple, Tracy being protected by Nancy as I raise my hands over my head for description.

Nancy took me from her back porch to ours exiting and entering through back doors and kitchens, our houses were built-in similar layout. Mom and Kathryn were in our kitchen, Mom can remember that she was cutting Kathryn’s hair. It was then that my book depicts that the sonic boom occurred and I am amazed at how much happened from the time I saw the meteor to when we heard the noise. Again, I trust the occurrence of the chronology, I would have remember it clearly because I made the book that same night.

I can remember burying my face onto the kitchen chair to hide my crying face. I am not sure why I always felt it was better not to cry and was ashamed to be seen crying.

Page 6, "Nancy walkt (sic) me home" Nancy with Curlers in her hair and emphasis on her hands holding mine. Note the face inside my back screen door.

Page 6, “Nancy walkt (sic) me home” Nancy with Curlers in her hair and emphasis on her hands holding mine. Note the face inside my back screen door.

Our kitchen was small and the oven/stove was an old white gas stove. I hid my face on the chair closest to the oven and near the wall. The wall and oven would be replaced four summers later when Hurricane Agnes devastated central Pennsylvania (more can be read on that era on my Loss of Childhood Innocence post).

I do remember watching a science fiction movie on our console television. I thought it was ironic how I was watching a spooky movie about space after I had just been frightened by something in the night sky. It must have been during that show when my Aunt Esther came over. She wanted to apologize for scaring me when she screamed. She had thought it was the light “heat lightning” and was frightened that she might get shocked and dropped the hose in alarm.

All of the chatter of the meteor was brought up again and again that evening. I think I needed to process it completely and whether I decided or was encouraged to write the book, I am not certain. My father came home as I was wrapping up the finally pages and illustrations as I knelt at our coffee table near a Aunt Esther. I worked with ball point pens, graphite pencils and colored pencils. I was allowed to bind it with a stapler.

Finally Aunt Esther had to go “over home.” I gave her credit in my book, it really was her adventure as well as mine. It must have been well past 10PM when I finally made it upstairs to bed.

I am still very proud of my book and happy no one ever wanted to throw it away. It documented such a unique moment and I felt it was worth sharing.

Page 7, "BOOM went the meteor." The sonic boom documented. My Mom in a multi-colored shirt has a sad face looking at me, The kitchen is a cut away because you can still see the sidewalk from outside. Kathryn is in orange. Note "boo hoo" was scribbled out. I was too embarrassed to share it in words.

Page 7, “BOOM went the meteor.” The sonic boom documented. My Mom in a multi-colored shirt has a sad face looking at me, The kitchen is a cut away because you can still see the sidewalk from outside. Kathryn is in orange. Note “boo hoo” was scribbled out. I was too embarrassed to share it in words.

Page 8, "Kid, did you finally come in?" Kathryn in orange with a cross on her shirt/dress addresses Tracy.

Page 8, “Kid, did you finally come in?” Kathryn in orange with a cross on her shirt/dress addresses Tracy.

Page 9, "Wow! This is spooky" I am sitting on Kahtryn's lap ( a rare treat for a 6 year old. Tracy is on the floor watching in front of us. Flowers on the console TV.

Page 9, “Wow! This is spooky” I am sitting on Kahtryn’s lap ( a rare treat for a 6 year old. Tracy is on the floor watching in front of us. Flowers on the console TV.

Page 10, "Aunt Esther came in. "Hello Terri, I am sorry I scared you.' 'You didn't'" Mom answers the front door to let Aunt Esther in, carrying something (A purse?). Kathryn is cradling me and Tracy has taken the seat for watching television.

Page 10, “Aunt Esther came in. ‘Hello Terri, I am sorry I scared you.’ ‘You didn’t'” Mom answers the front door to let Aunt Esther in, carrying something (A purse?). Kathryn is cradling me and Tracy has taken the seat for watching television.

Page 11, "Now Daddy came in." I must have been at that point in making the book because the details were important to document. Dad has on a tie and a dress shirt, work clothes. Aunt Esther is sitting on the couch as I am kneeling near her.

Page 11, “Now Daddy came in.” I must have been at that point in making the book because the details were important to document. Dad has on a tie and a dress shirt, work clothes. Aunt Esther is sitting on the couch as I am kneeling near her.

Page 12, "I am making this book now." I crossed out "a" and replaced it with "this" because it wasn't another book. I wanted to be clear.

Page 12, “I am making this book now.” I crossed out “a” and replaced it with “this” because it wasn’t another book. I wanted to be clear.

Page 13, "Aunt Esther sade (sic), I must go now," I wave to Aunt Esther as she breezes out the front door in her pink dress. Tracy and Mom have become one as Dad stands nearby. The tv is still an important presence. I always thought the way Aunt Esther, my cousins and Grammy worded things was unique.

Page 13, “Aunt Esther sade (sic), I must go now,” I wave to Aunt Esther as she breezes out the front door in her pink dress. Tracy and Mom have become one as Dad stands nearby. The tv is still an important presence. I always thought the way Aunt Esther, my cousins and Grammy worded things was unique.

Page 14, "aunt Esther and Terri" In closing, I ascend the stairs from the living room to my bedroom on the second floor. I was proud of having learned to write my name in cursive but my parents were reprimanded that year from me first grade teacher for teaching me to do so.

Page 14, “aunt Esther and Terri” In closing, I ascend the stairs from the living room to my bedroom on the second floor. I was proud of having learned to write my name in cursive but my parents were reprimanded that year from my first grade teacher for teaching me to do so.

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