So long, space shuttle.
It’s hard to describe certain aspects of the 1960s to those who weren’t actually there; they sometimes look at you as though you were describing a battle from the Crimean War.
Of course, one day they may look at us they same way when we tell them the United States actually had space vehicles of its own to send astronauts up, and we didn’t have to hitch rides with the same folks who built such marvels as the Mir space station.
The American space program is one of those things that sort of defy description. No, not the shuttle flights, though the bravery of the men and women who travel beyond the grip of gravity rivals that of the early astronauts.
But the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs had most of the nation - if not the world - in their thrall.
I recall folks standing before store windows, watching news of John Glenn as he orbited the earth, and the very real tension wondering if the Russians might get to the moon before we did.
As a young boy I watched every bit of news with an almost religious fervor. Growing up as an Air Force “brat,” maybe it was a little more real, I don’t know. Such was my space fever that in the summer of 1967 I began the first of my “Space Scrapbooks” cutting out every newspaper and magazine article I could find about the space program.
Major headlines, trivial headlines, Peanuts cartoons, I collected them all in my books, carefully pasted in.
The covers came off several years ago, but I have kept all of the pages, and am thinking about having them rebound one day. Looking over the headlines this morning, I feel a little of the same familiar rush as I did when I was young, and looking through the newspapers.
Two Astronauts Walk Out on ‘Hair’ -Apollo 13 astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr. and John Swigert, Jr. walked out on the musical after a scene in which a character was seen wrapped in an American flag. While in orbit, the astronauts had listened to songs from the musical and had christened their lunar module Aquarius, after one of the songs.
List Sightings for Echo II Satellite - Oh, yes, there was a time, Daffy Reader, when newspapers would print the schedules of satellites passing overhead, so that we could rush outside and see them. It was, indeed, a simpler time.
First Negro Astronaut is Killed - Astronaut Designee Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. Died in 1967 when his F104 crashed on a runway. Took a while for diversity to catch with NASA after this. Maybe if it had, so many would not have lost interest in the space program so early?
Life magazine covers, articles from Stars and Stripes, Junior Scholastic, and The Daily Express, Peanuts cartoons.
Cartoons from the brilliant British newspaper cartoonist known simply as Giles.
My five scrapbooks began a few months before Apollo 7, and ended shortly after the thrilling events of Apollo 13, when we almost lost a crew in orbit.
I stopped collecting the articles then, though my deep interest in the space program never abated. And I kept my collection safe for many years, through many moves and many relationships. Every so often I’d bring them out to show others who shared my passionate interest.
George Bush wasn’t the first one in the White House to con people into believing that we might be going to Mars. After the first moon landing, Vice President Spiro Agnew began trumpeting the same sort of nonsense,
And then the budget cuts began coming.
Apollo 17 wasn’t meant to be the last moon flight; the final two were scrapped in favor of Skylab. The budget cutting began almost immediately after Apollo 11.
Some years ago I went down to the public access station in Fayetteville (what is now Fayetteville Public Access Television) and did a short program, putting some of the headlines to music.
I’ll probably never go back and reread all of the articles - as I did once - but every couple of years I take it out and look through my collection, and read my favorite pieces.
I wonder if this country will ever find anything to feel so passionate about again, something that brings so many together?
You'll Enjoy this Book If You Can Find It Department
+There was once a fair science fiction series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which degenerated badly as the years went on. Based on a pretty good movie, it spawned three novels about the futuristic submarine and its crew. The best of these is simply entitled Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, by Raymond F. Jones.
For those who don't know, Jones wrote the novel that the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still is based upon. This novel - which is superior to most, if not all of the TV shows - deals with the discovery of race of undersea dwellers (not amphibians) who dislike encroachment on their world. Yes, my friends, the ancient Minoans were not destroyed, but lived on.
Printed under Whitman Publishing's "Authorized TV Adventure" line, it's a fun SF novel from a master. Plus it gives some insight into what the show might have been like, had more competent hands been at the helm.
Quote of the Day
There is something about an open fire, bread and butter sandwiches, very strong tea, yellow fog without and the cultural drawl of English voices which makes London very attractive and if I had been fascinated before, from that moment I loved it dearly. - Isadora Duncan