Thursday, February 1, 42 A.B.
In Praise Of Ham
Ok, I've been rushing around like a madman today trying to get all my Groundhog's Day shopping done, but the time has come when I simply MUST sing the praises of ham.
I mean, Ham.
Ham was a chimpanzee. A very brave chimpanzee. In fact, Ham was the first American primate in space!
Although the papers failed to mention it, it was exactly 31 years ago yesterday that the 37.5 pound little guy bounded into a Mercury capsule and rocketed into the Vast Unknown. Just four years old, but with more courage than I've managed to scrounge together in over four decades, Ham went 155 miles up into the sky and back, reaching a top speed of 5000 miles per hour along the way. Although his flight lasted a mere 16 minutes, it paved the way for so much: Alan Shepard's first flight; John Glenn's first orbit; Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon; the Challenger's first explosion. Well, hey - he was only a chimp. Give him a break! Especially since the poor beast died in 1983, pretty much forgotten in a North Carolina zoo. One can't help but believe that had Ham only lived a few more years, the Challenger would still be flying today.
How can I say this? Because Ham was a Very Special Chimp. He didn't fly for money or fame. When he returned to earth (and the Navy finally found him bobbing in the ocean after 2 hours of looking - duh!) he wasn't rewarded with wine, women, or song but lettuce and fruit. Have you ever tried to get a a tollbooth worker to allow you through a gate in exchange for lettuce and fruit let alone rocket into space for you?? HA! Ham was a different kind of chimp in an era of honor and self-sacrifice that's long gone, my friend. The fact that a few men had to help him out at the last second by tightening the restraints and physically shoving him into the capsule should not be allowed to overshadow the basic nobility of his life.
So, cheers, Ham! The banana I tossed up on the neighbor's roof last night was for YOU!
Try to swoop on down with your angel's wings and get it before the bugs of spring do, ok?
Ham As I'll Always Remember Him
Last Home Next
(©Now by DJ Birtcher despite being plastered against the side of this entry by the centrifugal force of his rapidly spinning thoughts)
Ham As You Ladies Can Only Dream About Him Now
Those who want to pay their respects to Ham may do so at his grave in the front lawn of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico. To symbolize our country's love for him, Ham's remains reside under the first slab of natural-tone concrete poured in Otero County.