Turtles All the Way Down

Edward MyCue

Myth be>comes parable evolving to symbol in the story of Turtle who is holding up the world: one nameless fabled old lady explained what upheld the turtle: it's turtles all the way down she asserted. 

I have told my story before, meeting John Fitzgerald Kennedy, US Senator, in 1960 as a Boston University graduate student under a fellowship from the Lowell Institute for Cooperative Broadcasting when I served as an intern at WGBH-TV then on the M.I.T. campus and (prior to  the establishment of PBS -- Public Broadcasting System) the linchpin of the Network for Educational Television (NET). 

The first time Kennedy was seeking the Democrat Party nomination for US president and the second time was after he became the nominee for president.

Both times he came to WGBH-TV to appear on the New England News program helmed by Louis Lyons, curator for journalism of the Nieman Journalism Foundation, Harvard; I was the assistant on this program switching between cameras and whatever else an assistant program director had to do.

On the first one, Lyons spoke about the idea proposed by Hubert Humphreys of what would be called later a Peace Corps, something similar to the program of the American Friends Service Committee abroad. 

In response, Senator Kennedy replied with good humor that even though another candidate might have supported it first he'd support any good ideas no matter who'd suggested them, adding: "When I am president, I will start such a program," as he cocked his handsome head to one side, smiling and with a muted chuckle (you know like the cat that ate the cream).  I was 23 then and charmed by the glistering joy, and his daring-do and wit. Roosevelt (who was president when I was born in 1937) was like that.  

As A Peace Corps Volunteer, the next year 1961,  heading --  (later that day in late August 1961 after having earlier been with my/ our peers from the other two groups groups also preparing to go out,  to Columbia and Tanganyika,  in the White House Rose Garden and the Oval Office with President Kennedy) -- on a 2 engine convair to Ghana as one of 50 of Ghana-1 volunteers, I didn't know what would happen next but with it seems now just calm anticipation, enjoying the trip stopping for refueling in the Azores and then in Dakar in Senegal before winding on to Accra, Ghana AND our first stop there for residential orientation at University College at Legon, Ghana.

Following which, I crowded on a lorry (called 'mammy wagons' I was recently reminded) and headed north into the Kumasi kingdom, then east through the rain forest into the Brong-Ahafo region, it being close to the Ivory Coast for my post as a teacher in a newly established secondary school near Acherensua.      

There is a lot more to my story, but this snip of a memory may be the kind that most of we volunteers of that time would share in one way, or another way. 

But now I am looking at new nows.  There are still turtles all the way down.  And I will join them. 

Edward MyCue was born in Niagara Falls, New York, raised in Texas. Was a Teaching Fellow at North Texas State; Lowell Fellow at Boston University; WGBH-TV Boston intern; Macdowell Colony Fellow; a Peace Corps teacher in Ghana. Books are: Damage Within the Community, Chronicle Root Route Range, Root Route & Range Song Return, Paper Castle. Recently Nightboats, Mindwalking, I am a Fact Not a FictionSong of San Francisco. mycueed@yahoo.com

     riverbabble 31 table of contents    |   Write to the Author   |  Go to the Archives