A Gingersnap Smile
"I will be your hero, Grandpa," a naïve young boy assures a man whom he once thought was the devil's helper. Will Rivers had mistaken illness for evil and was making up for it with comforting words. But they were words with promise and the road between a promise-given and a promise-kept can be laden with emotional pitfalls. He meets a young lady, ultimately the love of his life, but their first encounter was not promising. He pulled her ponytail and called her a "snaggle-tooth." In return, she gave him a permanent mark on his shin and another more enduring mark, the gingersnap smile. Will shares a soulful admission, "So, I was mean to her, but…I didn't know I loved her, then." That gingersnap smile became the symbol of his life with Grandpa. Will befriends Bobby, a young man from a rough neighborhood who introduces the concept of a "neutral deed," one that was neither good nor bad. When the police tell their story of the great electric wheelchair race, you'd think Will and Bobby were a couple of vandals on a joyride at Grandpa's expense. Will's attempt to keep his promise led to a political birthday party where, in an old video, a young Boy Scout proclaims, "A black man can't chase a bus in this country without catching a hassle! How's he gonna chase his dreams." Through the influence of that old video, Will concludes, "I guess yesterday really does matter." His decision to "kidnap" Grandpa led to the yelling match of the century wherein Will's father proclaims, "You touch my father and I'll beat you like a man beats a man! It won't be father and son between us!" Seeing whether Will keeps his promise justifies an evening with "A Gingersnap Smile."
Dan Jackson is an accomplished engineer, a "Fellow of Communications," in the space exploration industry at Johnson Space Center. He's been happily married to the former Lisa Henderson for 44 years and is the proud father of four. He entered the workforce as a pinball and jukebox mechanic and learned how to repair the earliest applications of microprocessor control in video arcade games. Dan joined the Air Force and learned how to repair microwave radios and how to teach others to maintain radio relay equipment, including digital multiplexing of data channels. Dan earned a commission in the Air Force and proceeded to ply his skills toward spying on the former Soviet Union using infrared sensors in geosynchronous orbit. After the Iron Curtain fell, at the pinnacle of his service to America, Dan and his buds tuned a spy satellite system to detect scud missiles launched in the hot backdrop of the Iraqi desert to transmit high-speed warning messages to US troops under threat. For his service to his country, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Force Commendation Medals and the Air Force Achievement Medal. Ultimately, Dan heard the call of space exploration here at NASA, where a discontent dreamer-nomad can live out every dream that matters to explorers. Having married as a "child of eighteen", to a "child of seventeen", and having raised four children, Dan is uniquely qualified to write of family love, raising kids, their inevitable rebellion and the sacrifice of tending to elderly parents. As a scout, the highest rank he achieved was Webelo. Dan always wanted to be an Eagle Scout.