In fact, it only happens once in a lifetime.
About 12:30pm yesterday I decided that my kids could not miss the one and only chance to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor travel through the streets of LA to its final home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park. Without my husband (who was working), I grabbed my 4 and 6 year-olds, printed a map of the route, turned on KFIAM 640 in Los Angeles and headed into the great unknown...as I’ve never explored that region East of USC (I lived in Long Beach for 15 years before becoming a country girl).
As we exited off the 110 onto Vernon to feel our way parallel to MLK Blvd, it was a relief to find the streets were NOT heavily blocked off as warned by news reports. We easily navigated our way East to the Leimert Park Village neighborhood where it was obvious locals were starting to gather for the approaching shuttle. And can I just say...what a cool neighborhood!! Very Harlem in the 90’s...definitely a community in Renaissance. Of course I had to clamp down on my 6-year-old who kept asking why everybody was wearing Obama t-shirts (I’ve indoctrinated her far too well!!).
But it was.
And that made all the difference in the world.
These communities were trusted with the privilege of escorting a piece of living history to it’s final resting place...and they made absolutely sure it was the best choice the city and NASA could have possibly made. Anyone too nervous to head to the area out of fear of the unknown missed one of THE GREATEST days in LA history. Period.
And anyone who thinks the space program doesn’t matter, that it’s a waste of money, doesn’t know jack squat. When one of the most economically challenged communities in America, a community that one would expect would want tax dollars spend on domestic, not space programs, rolls out the red carpet and shows reverence for the Space Shuttle and the astronauts in-tow, it means that people really can be inspired...even unified, by profound acts of faith and courage.
Kids with Space Shuttle toys. Homemade t-shirts to commemorate the event. Every piece of electronic recording device known to man. Gasps and applause at first sightings. Strangers making sure kids got best viewing.
No one argued when they had to give up their long claimed ‘spots’ when organizers warned they were in unsafe locations.
We were on an elevated side street and the port wing passed close enough to touch...but nobody did. Not the families with excited kids, not the gang bangers, not the space geeks, not the photography junkies. The shuttle belongs to all of us and that is how everyone treated it.
Proud. Excited. Welcoming. Considerate. Joyful.
No political opportunists, rallies, protests or intimidators. The history of the moment was more important than agendas.
LA doesn’t always shine. It has seen its share of sordid tales, and today its being crushed by its own mismanagement. But I can’t help but love this city. Yesterday was a reminder that I’m not a starry eyed school girl with a misguided crush.
P.S. Yes, I sound like a gigantic kumbaya Lib. Back to snarky bitch tomorrow.
P.P.S. These photos do not do the moment justice. With two small kids in a crowed area, there was only so much I was going to try doing with lenses, angles, etc. There was perfect magic hour lighting available, and my husband would have gotten AMAZING pictures. But I hope this gives a rough idea of our tiny slice of the route. There were some pretty cool landmarks like the Red Carpet Car Wash, Southwest Police Station, MLK & Crenshaw,Randy’s donuts etc. etc. for untethered photogs on foot!