So I was musing about my cat, Gracie, and how she came by her name. When I first adopted her, she had not yet been spayed, although that was one of the conditions of her adoption from the Humane Society. Before we could get this taken care of, a little gray male tabby showed up. I hadn’t gotten around to naming Gracie yet, I was just sort of calling her Miss Puss at the time. Then the little stray showed up, and I started calling the two of them George and Gracie. George was an odd cat. No idea where he came from, but I think he had a collar so I assumed he belonged to someone in the neighborhood although he never seemed to go home. I called him “the cat raised by wolves” because he didn’t seem to have any idea of what a litterbox was for, and even outdoors, he would do his business in the middle of the yard, like a dog, and not make any attempt to cover it up like most cats would. Anyway, fast forward to post-surgery for Gracie, and George disappeared, never to be seen again. Typical guy.
So all this got me thinking about how cliche it was to call the two of them George and Gracie, and how many pets must bear those names. But wait…who understands that reference anymore? George Burns and Gracie Allen were icons in their day, household names. But the new generations coming up now have no idea who they were. They were pioneers of entertainment, at a time when the world was full of pioneers in every endeavor: from vaudeville, to movies, to radio, to television, the introduction of plastic, to the dawn of the space age in the 1950s and 1960s when a rocket launch was more than a footnote on the evening news. We hadn’t been to the moon yet, didn’t even know if it could be done. When I was in fifth grade, I remember being crowded into a common area at school with all the other students to watch one of the Apollo missions lift off (had to have been Apollo 14). Now it seems like only the hardcore space geeks even pay attention to shuttle missions. What’s new to these kids? What do they have left to pioneer? They’re so jaded now, they take so much for granted that was wondrous to us older generations. I wish I could have been at NASA in those early days, watching science fiction come to life. Will anyone feel that sense of awe and wonder again? Things are so taken for granted now. We know faster, more powerful computers are coming, but think back to when there were no computers.
Childhood’s end (apologies to Arthur C. Clarke).