In 1897 the New York Sun newspaper ran the famous editorial, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. The mode of transportation was horses. Earlier that year, in a town called Golden, a baby girl was born … and given the name of Alta Vilotta.
As Alta grew, the world around her was changing. A new bicycle race … called the Tour de France … was announced. A lot of firsts … the first regular transatlantic radio broadcast between the United States and England … the first automobile trip across the United States from San Francisco to New York on dirt roads covered with crushed rock … and the Ford Motor Co. sold its first Model A car. In 1903, at a place called Kittyhawk, the Wright brothers made history … flying in the air for six minutes.
Alta witnessed Halley’s Comet as it approached the sun in 1910.
In Alta’s teen years, she married. Their first child … Agnes … was born in 1916 … followed quickly in succession by twin daughters … Jewett and Jewell (one of whom died in infancy) and sister Myrle.
The marriage didn’t last … leaving Alta with three small children. Two suitors showed up … one who brought candy to the children … and one who brought candy to Alta and said, “Don’t let the children see this.” She married the one who cared about the children.
Alta learned to drive. Traveling in a touring car, she turned a corner too soon and ended up in the ditch … tossing her daughters from the back seat. She vowed to never drive again … and she didn’t.
In 1925, Mussolini took over power in Italy, Al Jolson premiered in New York and Babe Ruth was rushed to the hospital for ulcer surgery. In Kansas, Alta gave birth to a son … and named him Bobby.
The Ku Klux Klan was strong in Kansas, with over 40,000 members. William Allen White … angered by the organization … could not sit idly by, so he ran for Governor of Kansas … going after the KKK.
Another little girl … Vera … was soon added to Alta’s burgeoning family. Tragedy struck again when Lila Lee did not survive more than a few months.
Hitler began the production of Volkswagens and the first flight of the Hindenburg occurred in 1936. Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind” and the first edition of Life magazine was published. King Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry the commoner Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Alta gave birth to another boy … naming him Carl but calling him Tony.
World War II was in progress, a Japanese submarine was discovered in the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, gasoline was rationed in the United States and Anne Frank went into hiding with her family in 1942. In Emporia, Kansas, Alta gave birth to another little girl. Her husband wanted to name the baby Lois Pauline. However, he died within hours of the baby’s birth … and the name Lois Joy was written on the birth certificate.
President Truman gave the OK to build the hydrogen bomb in 1950. The Dick Tracy TV show sparked an uproar concerning the violence on the show. Bell Laboratories created the telephone answering machine and Paul Harvey began his national radio broadcast.
Alta’s ice box was replaced with an electric refrigerator … and a party line telephone was installed in her home. She no longer used a washboard for her laundry … but now had a Maytag wringer washer.
By 1960, USSR had launched Sputnik 5 with two dogs inside. They were recovered … the first living organisms to return from space. In the United States, the Mercury-Redstone 1 test launch failed. We were behind in the space race. In Washington D.C., John F. Kennedy was elected our first Roman Catholic president.
By 1961 Alan Shepard had flown in the United States’ first suborbital flight … and by 1963 Gordon Cooper was launched into space … becoming the first human to sleep in space.
It was July of 1969 when Neil Armstrong took his moon walk. Alta told anyone who would listen that it was all staged at some movie set somewhere.
The return of Halley’s Comet occurred in 1985 … once again witnessed by Alta. Within a few months, Alta’s leg was amputated … removing her only form of transportation. She didn’t make it.
In Alta’s seasons of life she had seen tremendous changes in the world.
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