Tom Corbett, Space Cadet was reportedly inspired by the writings of Robert Heinlen, and during its five years on the air earned the distinction of broadcasting on all four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and DuMont). It was known as the most "realistic" (don't laugh!) of the space programs from that era, the others being Rocky Jones, Space Patrol and Captain Video. The series followed the space adventures of Tom Corbett (Frankie Thomas), an astronaut in the 22nd century studying to become a Solar Guard and manning a spaceship called the Polaris.
So anyway, I was visiting in-laws in rural Virginia when I happened upon this find at a flea market booth. Some of the paint has rubbed off, as you can see from the photos, but the manufacturing information at bottom reads Rockhill Radio 1952, Aladdin Industries Incorporated. This means it's actually fifty four years old. Cool! What's actually most amazing about this piece is that the thing is metal, not plastic, and actually quite heavy.
Don't know why this piece of nostalgia struck my fancy so deeply, but I had to have it (and the price was right: $4.25). It now sits proudly on my desk and I enjoy looking at it. Perhaps I just appreciate knowing that there was a generation before me who loved this kind of thing too, and was inspired by voyages to the stars. Even before Star Trek.
Some day, I guess, the next generation will look at a Space:1999 thermos and think the same thing. "You mean people liked space adventures before Stargate SG-1 or Battlestar Galactica 2005? Who knew!"
Anyway, this comes from the age when our entertainment projected man flying to the stars on "rockets" with fins, talking about the complex procedure of "blast off" and believing that the sky was no longer the limit. I don't know about you, but I miss that kind of optimism today. I listen to our leaders seriously discussing tactical nukes and bunker busters and I wonder why we don't turn all that energy towards something entirely more productive, like conquering the stars and ushering in a new golden age for mankind. I know we can do it, but who's gonna stand up and take us there? Where are the Tom Corbetts?
I'm afraid the people in Washington today are space cadets all right, but not the kind that would have made Tom Corbett proud...