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March 12, 2017 / thackersam

Sally Ride & Molly Kool

I must have been in my early-twenties the first time I saw Sally Ride. Her strides were long as she walked alongside her fellow astronauts, all cameras focused on her. She was a striking figure in her flight suit, looking confident and cool, with an acknowledging smile that showed a combination of humility, amusement and “yes, I am very qualified for this job.” She was chosen out of a handful of female astronauts to go up into space. Every news program showed the same thing with the footage of her walking outside at NASA amongst the aircraft. They all slowed it down to the pace of “Mustang Sally,” not the whole song of course, just the chorus that goes “Ride, Sally Ride.” Sally Ride oozed cool. And she was going to be the first American woman in space. The two female Russian cosmonauts that beat her made her third in the world, but she went first in 1983 and then again a year later, and helped develop a robot arm (“cause that’s all you need”).

After NASA, Dr. Ride, physicist, went on to be a college professor and started a program to promote enthusiasm for the sciences to students, particularly girls. She was a proponent of NASA to the end. I was saddened and surprised when I heard of her death at the age of 61 in 2012, as I could swear I had just seen her speaking on behalf of the space program not long before and I didn’t know she was sick. She appeared as she always had, professional, committed and unflappable. Sally Ride deserves all the accolades that were bestowed upon her. She is truly an inspiration for women and should not be forgotten.

Now, Molly Kool, well I didn’t hear of her until about a week after her death at the age of 93 in 2009 when the New York Times printed her obituary.  I couldn’t help but notice the name, speaking of cool. Molly Kool was the first female North American licensed ship captain, earning her license in 1939. The daughter of a sailor, it was in her blood, and when she inherited her father’s cargo scow, she was determined to be its captain, and licensed. She was the scow’s captain through the mid-1940s, and although Canadian, she settled down in Maine, where, six decades later, she passed away two days after her birthday.

Both Sally Ride and Molly Kool are icons that faced obstacles in their chosen fields based on their sex, and both have really cool names.

BTW – I love Cher. Always have, always will. Just sayin’. No reason.

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