Schuster Star Trek Conventions/1977 (February) New York City Schuster Star Trek Convention

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Star Trek America 1977 ("Star Trek World Expo") was held in February in New York City.

Guests of Honor

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I can hear it like it was yesterday.

"WWWWHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! I'M GOING BAAAAAAAAACKWARDS!"

The scream pierced the dank silence of the hotel service corridor. A wheelchair loaded with the hefty body of a 17 year old boy careened backward down an inclined ramp. Three other boys raced after it to save him before slamming into the concrete wall at the bottom.

"Ah-ahhh! Let's do that again! That was cool!" The wheelchaired passenger screamed in joy to his friends.

The scene is a service corridor under the then Statler-Hilton in New York City. It was February 1977 at the Star Trek World Expo. The four teenage friends had traveled from Rhode Island to attend a major Trek convention, a first for some of them. One of them is wheelchair-bound. Their common interest in science fiction was one of the building blocks which had led to a decades long bond.

They have used the service corridors to make it easier to navigate the crowded hallways with their wheeled pal. Unseen to the public, the passageways snake around ballrooms, through kitchens and go from the top to the bottom of the hotel. The friends were making their way from the lobby up to the dealers' floor when they came to the ramp.

"Here, let me help, said one of the friends moving to push the chair to the top of the ramp.

"I can do it," said the strongly independent friend. "Strong" was an understatement. While the degenerative disease which put him in the chair had robbed him of lower body use he was a brick house from the waist up. All of the friends knew that you never wanted to be grabbed and held tightly by the wrist, or even worse, pulled into a bear hug. Asthma attacks had nothing in comparison to the breathing restriction inflicted by one of his "Playful" wrestling holds. And he laughed all the time doing it....the bastard!

From the beginning there was an understanding between these friends. Even though he was in the chair, he was just one of them. Sure, they helped when asked and made minor concessions to their friends limitations; but there weren't many. They went everywhere together. They did all the things teenage friends did together. This trip was a perfect example. They planned and saved for the trip for months. Never, in any of the planning, were the limitations of bringing someone in a wheelchair seen as a hindrance to going; it was simply part of the planning.

They may have asked about the disease at some point during the friendship, but it never mattered. They only wanted to answer their curiosity as to WHY their friend was in the chair. They spent hours together and never thought of him as anything other than just another one of the group.

Just as his chair crested the ramp his eyes widened as the realization hit that he was losing control. His arms began to flail as he grabbed at the wheels in a vain attempt to regain ground.

"Hey!" he called out to this friends steps in front of him.

"WWWWHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! I'M GOING BAAAAAAAAACKWARDS!"

That New York trip was one which I took with Andy Hastings, Bob Eggleton and Jay Kingston. Andy was the one in the wheelchair. [1] June 18, 2004 </ref>

References

  1. The Towaway Zone, Archived version

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