Old Neighbor and New Friends
The weather is going pretty much exactly as we said it would since last weekend. Cool, some pesky clouds then lots of sunshine for the weekend with warmer afternoons, especially on Sunday.
New Friends: Well, they aren’t really new because I’ve met them before but they are new enough. They are the folks from a group that meets monthly at Vernon Baptist Church in Vernon, IN and Snow White and I had a wonderful time today visiting. Wanda Smock and her crew are just exceptionally nice and so hospitable. Wanda had me try out the Persimmon Pudding and I’m glad she did. As usual, my talk ran long and I diverged from the program I had in mind. But, I hope the audience enjoyed it as much as we did. And by the way, if you’ve never been to Vernon, stop by. Its a pretty little town South of….you guessed it…North Vernon. Great people and some really really cool old houses and buildings.
On This Date In History: My old neighbor, Walter Cunningham, on this date in 1968 was part of the Apollo 7 crew that launched and marked America’s return to manned spaceflight following the fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew about a year and a half earlier. Cunningham and his family lived around the corner from us. I went to his house a few times as he had a son named Brian who went to my school. I never saw Brians father at home, though I did see him when he visited our school once.
When I was a kid, I knew everything about the space program. Came in handy years later in bar contests, fraternity bets and trivia pursuit. But here is one that got by me. I found several sources that say the reason my neighbor Cunningham, Mercury veteran Wally Schirra and Donn Eisle never flew after their successful Apollo 7 flight was because they were secretly banned. You can search for yourself but I can tell you that from what I have been able to find, all three definitely had head colds. They became cranky. Sources also all say that they became argumentative with NASA during the flight. One source, which I have not been able to duplicate, said the three were feeling so badly that they didn’t put their helmets on during re-entry. In any event, NASA was not happy with back talking Astronauts and secretly grounded them. The funny thing is how that little tidbit seems to be lost to history and documentary coverage. It makes me wonder what else NASA has hidden away in an attempt to keep up the good image. Whatever it is, I bet present day NASA officials long for the old public relations men and for a more cooperative media.
Anyway, the saga was a shame, especially for Schirra. See, as one of the original 7 Astronauts, it seems likely he would have gotten a shot at the moon like Alan Shepherd. But boys and girls take this lesson to heart. No matter how big or successful you are, if you are unkind and don’t play well with others, then there is a good possibility that you will eventually suffer consequences.
Maybe if NASA had Rodney King on staff at the time, he could have encouraged the Astronauts to just get along. Years later, I bet they did in fact wish they had.