The Snow Globe


It was spring of 1967 and I was going on my first field trip into New York City.  I didn’t live far from the city, but I had never been to it before.  I remember being on the bus with my friends as we crossed the bridge into Manhattan and seeing the Chrysler Building first, thinking that it was the Empire State Building.  From our perspective on the bridge, it seemed taller than the Empire State Building which was a little further away.  But soon that changed.  It had just been an illusion.  On the bus we sang, “One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”  In those days, little children didn’t have worry about being politically correct and the teachers and parents on the bus didn’t really care what we were singing.

We finally arrived at our destination, The Hayden Planetarium.  I remember sitting in the theater and watching the stars fill the room as it suddenly transformed into the night sky.  For the first time I felt the wonder that would start a life long fascination with Astronomy.  After the show, we went to the gift shop.  The other children quickly picked out their souvenirs, but it took me a while longer.  My father had given me a few dollars to spend and I had never held so much money in my hands before.  Except for the occasional ten cent candy at the corner store, I had never bought anything at all on my own before.  I walked around the gift shop and was dazzled by the objects that were for sale.  After quite some time, I finally decided to buy a glass snow globe with a small replica of the planetarium inside.  I turned the snow globe over and the snow glitter collected at the top.  As I turned it right side up again, I smiled as I watched the globe fill with the magical specs like fairy dust.  I carefully carried it to the counter and handed my precious dollar bills to the cashier.  Proudly, I paid for my snow globe.  The children were already lining up to return to the school bus and, not surprisingly, I was one of the last ones still lingering in the gift shop.  I held my snow globe and hurried to get into line.  There were a set of maybe two or three steps I had to climb to get to where my class was waiting.  As I climbed the stairs, I tripped.  My snow globe didn’t shatter when it hit the floor, but a crack spread across the surface.  The water inside started to spill out and mixed with my tears as they streamed down my face at the same time.  The class was leaving, there was no time to exchange my snow globe.

On the way home, we sang, “I’m tired and I want to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed.  I had a little drink about an hour ago, and it went right to my head.”  Imagine the ruckus that would cause today if third graders sang that on a school trip!  For years I still had my snow globe.  It didn’t have any water in it, so I couldn’t turn it upside down and right side up anymore to watch the magic happen, but I still loved it.  It was mine and I had purchased it on my own.  I guess somewhere along the line, my mother eventually threw it out, but I will never forget the magic of my first snow globe or the wonder that the planetarium show awakened in me.   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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