S&S Authors Share Star Trek Memories

January 20, 2017

With the 50th anniversary year beginning to wind-down, we thought it might be kind of fun to ask some of our authors here at Simon & Schuster if they had any brief Star Trek memories they'd care to share with our followers. We expected a few passing responses here and there that would simply acknowledged the series or, at most, critique the latest films. What we did not expect was an outpouring of nostalgic, heart-warming submissions from authors portraying Star Trek as a childhood infatuation. Here's one from Stephen Tobolowsky.

 

My connection with Star Trek was tenuous at best. I was not a fan of the pointy ears. Didn’t like warp-speed. I didn’t like the uniforms which reminded me of the cleaning men at the YMCA where I shot baskets. So, in protest, I never watched the show.

Until I did.

I was in tenth grade. I had to do a punishment assignment in biology because the football players in our class tried to kill the frogs in the terrarium by pouring beer into their tank. Our teacher said everyone in the class had to pay. He assigned us all copy the first three pages of the index of our textbooks and turn them in the next day. Failure to do so would be an automatic F.

That night I started copying the index in front of the television. I was so angry and disgusted at the injustice of the assignment, I didn’t pay attention to what channel I was watching. Star Trek began. I stopped writing and began to watch. Within a few minutes I put my pencil down. I was swept away. I was moved by Spock. I was amused by the passion of Bones. I was encouraged by the bravado of Kirk. I was not going to have my life ruled by bullies, be they frog-killing linebackers or biology teachers. I decided to go where no man had gone before. I voyaged into tomorrow without my assignment.

The next day in class our teacher gathered all of the copied pages of the index, never checked them, and threw them away. I didn’t get an F. Star Trek had become my talisman, my good luck charm.

The joke was on me. The program I had watched was the last aired show of the series. It was gone, but certainly not forgotten, as history has demonstrated.

About twenty years later I was dating an actress named Ann. She was an odd, sweet girl from Griffin, Georgia. As we were getting to know one another, I asked the standard questions: how did you become an actress, what were the big moments of your childhood, have you ever been arrested. She told me about a letter that was one of her prized possessions.

She was a big fan of Star Trek when she was thirteen. She heard DeForest Kelley was also from Georgia. She wrote him a letter. He wrote her back. He was not only from Georgia but lived for a short time in her hometown. She said the exchange made a big impact on her. Not that she had gotten a note back from one of her TV idols, but that he was kind enough to reply.

I married the girl named Ann. We have been married for 28 years, so Star Trek was a talisman of sorts. She still talks about DeForest Kelley’s kindness today. It has outlasted all of the re-runs, all of the reboots.

Stephen Tobolowsky is the author of The Dangerous Animals Club and My Adventures with God