Headline:Famous Firsts

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Famous “Firsts”

Tuesday, August 8, 1995

45 Years and Three Generations of Adventures

Dr. Augustus Furst arrived in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, this past May, to give the commencement address at the Harold Jordan Memorial High School graduation exercises. There was a brass band, and a parade, and throngs of admirers from as far away as Boston, Massachusetts and Fairbanks, Alaska. But there were also people who know Dr. Furst personally, and who've known him since he was a student at "H.J.'s," as the locals put it.

"He was a science nerd then, and he's a science nerd now," says Mamie Didrickson, 64, Furst's date to his high-school senior prom. "But he's a really, really famous science nerd."

Indeed. In between high school and today have come four wives, innumerable enemies, a pair of super-powered adoptive children (born to an ex-wife and an exotic enemy), a marriage for one of those children that shocked the world, the globe's most famous grandchild and, of course, a lifetime of adventure and lasting fame as head of what the world has come to know as "The First Family."

It's been a heady ride for Dr. Furst, and for his younger brother Julius, starting back in 1950 with what was supposed to be a research field trip to Romania.

"Some fancy scientific muck-a-mucks had been having trouble with something behind the Iron Curtain," says Julius. "They thought is was some unreadable energy-flux whatsit that was drainin' energy from one'a their manufacturin' plants -- they didn't know it was Onggu the Omnivorous. Nobody knew about that until Gus got there.

Anyway, they'd seen some stuff Gus wrote in one'a those science journal things he used to clog up the livin' room with -- he was only 14 when he wrote it, but they didn't know that -- they figgered he was the only man for the job and arranged things with the UN and the State Department for him to visit. Imagine if they'd got him right when the article came out -- they'd'a been expectin' some distinguished Yankee scientist, and they'd a got some tow-headed kid in hand-me-down overalls! Even so, I think they was expectin' someone a little more impressive-lookin' than a skinny twenty-year-old kid! I went along, a'course, because Ma didn't want Gus gettin' inta trouble in 'furrin climes,' and I been goin' along ever since. Gus'd forget where he put his head sometimes, if I wasn't there to remind him, I swear.

"So whatever. Gus takes one look at the site, and his eyes light up. He knows it's alien contact, even if those caviar-burners can't see it. Ended up, he rigged a feedback dingus that warped Onggu's energy-sappin' powers right back inta hisself, an' flooie! no more brain-suckin' alien monster. That was the first time Gus got on the cover of Scientific American. Time magazine was a few months later, because of that thing in Malaysia."

Julius Furst seems proud to talk about his brother's accomplishments, but ask him about Augustus's record with marriage, and his face clouds over.

"I keep tellin' him an' tellin' him, but if it ain't got electrons whippin' around it, I don't think he hears too good. The thing is, what makes him great at science is he's got this one-track mind -- he focuses on this one thing until he's got it licked. So when he meets some cutie who catches his fancy, well -- pow! -- he's got that supercharged concentration aimed right at her, an' he's charmin' an' attentive an' all that stuff. It's worse since he got famous.

"Pretty soon, she's bowled over, she feels like the most special thing in the world, an' they're hitched, so what happens now? He gets himself another project, that's what. An' all that concentration gets aimed someplace else, an' the cutie gets honked that she's bein' ignored, an' I don't blame her a bit. So she leaves, an' maybe he notices an' maybe he's too deep in solvin' the problem of the Spores a' Doom, but in a while the divorce goes through, and sometime after that he meets some other cutie, and on it goes. Madame Majestrix is the only one could ever deal with him."

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