My father often liked to tell this story. In 1930, when he was eight years old, he saw an advertisement in a magazine depicting a series of yearly calendars going off into the distance. The very last calendar was 1960, a time to him so distant he couldn't imagine ever getting there.
I had my own "calendar moment" in 1968. Instead of a magazine ad, it was a movie. Sitting in the darkened theater, seeing the opening credits for 2001: A Space Odyssey come onto the screen, I couldn't quite comprehend that I would someday enter the 21st century. It seemed a fantasy. But when and if I did make it to the next millennium, it would surely be populated with videophones, space station hotels, and PanAm space stewardesses. I soon had proof we were on our way. Within a year, on July 20, 1969, two men landed on the Moon and CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite wiped away a tear when they did.
2001 has now come and gone. We have videophones and a far less luxurious space station, but no longer any presence on the Moon. The last astronauts to journey across the dusty soil did so in 1972, nearly four decades ago. Who knew that Cronkite's tear of joy would turn into a tear of disappointment for those of us who longed for the life of 2001 to come true.
Image Credits: (top) Walter Cronkite (CBS News); (bottom) Space Station Hilton Hotel (from 2001: A Space Odyssey)