We all have goals and dreams in life.
Some of them are plausible and realistic. They're within our reach. Other goals, however, can be a little more difficult to obtain.
Jeanne Pugh, a native of the Jamestown area, knows all about that.
Jeanne Pugh, left, and Dianne Roepcke stand inside the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Pugh, 87, recently received a two-day trip to the center and a space-simulation experience from Jeremy Bloom’s Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization dedicated to granting life-enriching wishes to older Americans. A Jamestown native and former feature writer/columnist for The Post-Journal, Pugh now lives at Lake Seminole Square, a Brookdale Senior Living continuing-care retirement community in Seminole, Fla., where Roepcke is a staff nurse.
At 87, Pugh's dream to travel to the moon would not strike most as a realistic goal. Thanks to a little help along the way, and some fairly serious modifications to her aforementioned dream, Pugh made it to the moon ... sort of.
Before she dreamed of flying off into space, Pugh spent decades right here in the Jamestown area, where her love of journalism began. She began volunteering at the old Evening Journal at age 14, serving on the copy desk.
Later, she went to college at Alfred University Extension for two years. Locally, she held the position of community relations director at Jamestown Community College.
''They tempted me with money,'' she said of the college's staff.
Additionally, her husband, H. Theodore or Ted, was the mayor of Falconer for four years.
Her career as a journalist would lead her to employment at several newspapers. Pugh worked as a feature writer/columnist for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and The Post-Journal.
Eventually, she earned the title of religion editor at the St. Petersburg Times, where she served in that capacity for 14 years.
Pugh's reporting career led her to Rome, Nicaragua and Canada, where she was one of only six press people on the list to travel with Pope John Paul II. They visited 10 cities in eight days. She also covered religion in several cities in the United States, when significant religion-related events took place.
Her desire to travel to the moon began when Pugh stood in the midst of her communications career. In 1969 it all began.
''It started during the Kennedy decade that sent us off to the moon,'' she said. ''I remember watching that thing on a very snowy TV, trying to figure out what Neil Armstrong said. Like everyone else, I had to wait for Walter Cronkite to interpret it: 'One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.' Right then, I wanted to go to the moon.''
Pugh never lost hope that she would someday be able to travel to the moon. However, along the way, she knew her dream had to be altered.
''I knew I couldn't be an astronaut,'' she said.
As time went by, her dream went on the back burner. Pugh and her husband headed South to Florida at age 50 in 1974. Her focus was on her career for the ensuing years at the St. Petersburg Times.
Pugh retired in 1989, but she was no closer to traveling to the moon than the rest of us everyday citizens.
A WISH COMES TRUE
When Pugh moved into Lake Seminole Square in Seminole, Fla., nearly two years ago, however, that all changed. It was a national competition meant to grant a wish that changed everything.
Lake Seminole Square is a Brookdale Senior Living continuing-care retirement community. Brookdale Senior Living and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization dedicated to granting life-enriching wishes to older Americans, offered Brookdale's residents a unique opportunity more than 18 months ago.
By filling out a wish application explaining an experience they would like to have fulfilled, a Brookdale resident could have their wish granted. Pugh decided to go for it. She filled out a wish application, writing a paragraph on an experience she would like to have fulfilled.
At first, she toyed with a couple of different options. Pugh had never been to the Middle East, but she wanted to go. However, she decided to go for the moon instead.
''I'll make it doable. I'll make it a trip to the moon,'' she thought when writing the paragraph. Well, it wasn't exactly a trip to the moon that she applied for, but it was close.
Pugh applied for a two-day visit to the Kennedy Space Center for a moon-flight simulation. Well over a year later, it looked as though Pugh's dream would not be realized. That changed earlier this year.
''I got a call a year and a half later. They said, 'You won.' I said, 'What?' They said, 'A trip to the moon.'''
On July 25 and 26, Pugh's dream came true when she and two others traveled to the Kennedy Space Center. She brought along a friend who was healthy, Janet McCoy, and a staff nurse, Dianne Roepcke, who volunteered, going with them without pay. The three traveled by limousine there and back.
Pugh was glad to have her friends along side her.
''She was a gem,'' Pugh said of Roepcke. ''She was just marvelous. She helped drag this oxygen tank around.''
The three had an opportunity to tour the facility, meet an astronaut and experience the space center's blast off simulation.
''It was thrilling to the point of tears on several occasions, especially the simulated blast off into space,'' said Pugh. ''The simulation was just like taking off on a jet with a few more vibrations.''
For Pugh, the view was quite memorable.
''They opened the hatch and there was the Earth. It was so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes to see it,'' she said.
She felt the weightlessness that astronauts experience and got to see and feel how they handle their daily tasks.
''You feel like you're right out there with them. It was a great feeling of awe. It's about as real as you can get,'' she said.
Making it a two-day trip was quite important for Pugh.
''I knew one day wouldn't be enough. We needed that time,'' she said.
The experience helped to put life into perspective for her.
''Here we are on Earth, worried about our minuscule things, and there's a whole universe out there,'' she said.
Overall, Pugh, McCoy and Roepcke had an enjoyable experience.
''We had a marvelous time,'' she said. ''I just hope to go back sometime and do it again.''
Until then, Pugh feels pretty content at Lake Seminole Square.
''I love it here. I have my own apartment with all my own stuff. It's perfect,'' she said. ''This is the world's best place for old, retired people.''