Stalwartness Of Existence.. …#39 (the 50’s)

Saturn – Once observed always remembered

Occupying the same seat in the same classroom for two subjects could be an asset or a pitfall.   Gary fulfilled this quantum in Mrs. Funnell’s english and Latin classroom,   his desk next to a large wall  book-case containing classic’s written by legendary authors provided irresistible opportunities to ingest their works,  whether during class or after.    He soon realized substituting    “The Classic’s” for studious reading during class time,  could be detrimental to your scholastic grade, but not a deterrent, the only alternative was the library.     


Mrs. Ruth Salo was the Gibson Branch public library’s  librarian and was very much acquainted with Gary, commencing with his school days at Burckhalter.  She was aware of his reading interest and in the past kept him informed of current book arrivals, but with the advent of junior high and the initiation of his paper route, his once routine visits having almost become nonexistent,  one afternoon having an intuitive feeling deciding to renew its acquaintance.   Libraries always maintained an indescribable aura, he reasoned it was a combination of the prevailing silence,  the scent exhaled by the bond of literature on the shelves and the wisdom and knowledge environment  that hovered above like a cloud.

It was good to return to this bastion of the past and forecaster of the future,  it was like addressing a neglected companion.   Gary was pleased to see with Mrs. Salo and feeling somewhat apologetic for not coming by and at least say hello to whom he considered a mentor and to his surprise she responded that she recently had been thinking about him. He must have had an inquisitive look because she continued, asking if he would be interested in joining her and her husband Ed for an upcoming open-house tour of Chabot Observatory.   Engulfed with a rush of astonishment but without hesitation,  the teenager accepting this unbelievable offer.


Nestled in the hills a short distance from Mountain Blvd., two miles from Gary’s home was Chabot Observatory.    The invitation to tour Chabot  was a dream come true as he readied himself in great anticipation.   The evening had arrived, dusk was settling in  with their arrival at the twin domes adorning the observatory grounds and upon entering were seated in a large room with many others.   Gary soon  realized the group was a segment of an organized meeting and the program presentation was for new members.  Waiting patiently for the parliamentary process and procedures to conclude,  the teenage was more than eager to investigate his surroundings.


Their group entering the largest of the domes and were introduced to Rachel,  a twenty inch refractor telescope, who has been adorning her spot of prominent since the observatory was constructed in 1915.   Gary was looking ardently to exploring its application,   unfortunately the telescope was obligated for a prior engagement and a disappointed  group moved on.   The smaller dome was home to the matriarch of Chabot telescopes ,  named Leah,  an eight inch refractor built in 1883 and originally dwelled in the observatory tower on Lafayette Square in downtown Oakland,  eventually moved in 1915 by Chester Burckhalter,  Gary’s elementary school namesake and  Chabot’s first observatory director to its present Mountain Blvd. location.


Lastly it was his turn at the celestial aperture that focused on the electromagnetic radiation emitting from the vast void of the heavens containing the effervescent spheres.    Gary engrossed attention to the eyepiece, focusing his vision and before him a sounding of a soft yellow ringed planetary image appeared.   His psychic froze,  he stood looking at a timeless existence,  nine  hundred million mile of eternity was  captured.   Never had he experience a feeling of being so insignificant and minuscule.    Saturn’s awe-inspiring soft yellow glow was indelibly inscribed in his conscience,  embolden as symbolic to the stalwartness of existence.


His introduction to Chabot Observatory by the Say low’s fulfilling another uncharted void, and as he sat in silence during the short ride home,  inwardly, his viewing Saturn making a lasting imprint.   Gary discerning there’s a reason and purpose for everything,  and tonight the reason for coming fulfilled its purpose, Instilling another road to journey on.



One Response to “Stalwartness Of Existence.. …#39 (the 50’s)”

  1. Patrick Dyer Says:

    I had one visit to the Chabot Observatory in early 1956 as part of my Cub Scout Den (Cherryland ES, Hayward). It was a rainy night so all the telescope viewing done was at a flashlight shone on the inside of the dome (don’t recall which scope though)! I wouldn’t see such a dramatic view of Saturn (“basketball inside a hula hoop”) until Oct 1967 thru a 9″ refractor at UT Austin.


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