Friday, July 22, 2011

US in Space; A Personal History

Howdy Folks!

Come along with me on a little nostalgia trip. OK?

This is my childhood.
I well remember the warmth,
the hum,
the orange glow.

These vacuum tubes made our sophisticated technology work:
Radio, Television, even a Computer or two!

There were still plenty of black & white movies, 
and propeller airplanes,
but there was TECHNICOLOR now,
 and Jet Aircraft!

The First Computer in the World!

This is the ENIAC computer right in my hometown,
 at the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia.
(My Mom is a West Philadelphia High School graduate!)
Twenty thousand vacuum tubes. . . CUTTING EDGE!

My Grandparents had a Television like this one.

Do You Recognize This?

 Then you are most
 likely over 50.

The local TV station(s) 

(there was one, maybe 3,
 if you lived in a major
metropolitan area)

did something
 called 'sign off.'

They played the national anthem, 
then broadcast a Test Pattern
(like the one here)

 Or they just turned the station
OFF leaving a hum and static.

 Remember Static?

Some folks called it 'snow.'
 It was relaxing like watching falling snow.

Ours was modern.
I just thought it was TV,
but now they say it was a Golden Age.

We were the Greatest Country in the World!
  Men like my Dad, and my classmates' Dads,
and the milkman 
 and the cop on the beat,
 had Made The World Safe For Democracy.

 The future looked GREAT!

Then some scary things happened:

Laika, Soviet Space Dog

Mutt-nik  &  Sputnik

Then the first human in space,

Yuri Gagarin.

The Communist Soviets Had the High Ground! 


 Telstar 1 
was launched on top of a Thor-Delta rocket
 on July 10, 1962.

 It successfully relayed through space the first television pictures, telephone calls, fax images and provided the first live transatlantic television feed.

I was watching that first  live transatlantic broadcast.


But it wasn't enough.

  So John Glenn was the first American
 to orbit Earth 
 aboard his Mercury Capsule, 
in 1962.

It was VERY special 
having a television wheeled into the classroom.
We all watched at school!

Gosh I remember that shape! 
I had the pencil sharpener!

Those recoveries by aircraft carrier-based helicopters 
out of the sea near our New 50th State,
  were almost as exciting!

Then "we" walked on the moon in 1969!

"For All Humankind"

And in 1981, 
we saw this sight for the first time:

The World Was Amazed
 at the Glide-to-Landing.
The Future Had Arrived!

You could drive your family
 around in your OWN Space Shuttle!

But it was not all good.

Ellison Shoji Onizuka,
Kona, Hawaii
" Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

Ilan Ramon
                                               And danced the skies 
                   on laughter-silvered wings;

Christa McAuliffe

Sunward I've climbed,
 and joined the tumbling mirth

Columbia Crew 2003

" Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Challenger Crew 1986

                       Put out my hand, and touched   
the face of God. "

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

But we and our allies
including the Russians,
and others,
got it done:

International Space Station
"We have slipped the surly bonds of Earth."

The last Shuttle mission has been flown.

It is an empty feeling
befitting a nervous time
of immense change.

I hope we are not done
doing big things

           What do YOU think?  cloudia


Hilary said...

You documented this era so well, Cloudia. A fine tribute to the space program.

Bonnie said...

Hate to be pessimistic - but the reality of what is happening now does not bode well for the future of the USA, or the world.

The Republicans may win this battle and destroy the country and set the world in a tailspin in the process. Other countries are watching the political impasse in disbelief and horror at the power of a few to control the destinies of so many - and with so little compassion.

I do remember many of the images you share here in your walk down memory lane. The American dream seems to have been weighted too much on the side of individualism and community and country cannot survive under the weight of individual freedom at the expense of the collective good.

Forgive me for going on and on - but I have been really saddened and distressed by what I see happening south of our border.

claude said...

What a wonderful post, Cloudia !
I took a good interest to the american space program from beginning to end
The end is sad but, for the moment, surely necessary.
Aloha my Friend !

ayala said...

What a wonderful post. It was so great to dream big dreams and watch them become reality. I hope that it continues...even though I'm not certain that it will :(

Akelamalu said...

My grandchildren laugh when I tell them I didn't see a TV until I was 12 years old and it was in Black and White. "What's black and white?" they ask me. ;)

Jeannie said...

They were heady times! Although I am Canadian - we got so much American TV that we were there along with you.

I was expecting a rehash of all the space based tv shows - I Dream of Jeannie, Lost in Space, My Favourite Martian etc.

An awareness of so many things has blossomed since those times. Pollution, poverty, race - and the health of the planet. Space travel is still a dream but one that must be set aside for a time to deal with practicalities here on earth. The greed of a few has endangered the masses Not just in the USA but around the world. Things are dangerously out of balance. A time of scaling back will be necessary before another era of widespread prosperity is possible. But it will come because everything is cyclical.

Lynn said...

Golly - that took me back. I remember staying up to watch the moon landing with my dad - what a wonderful memory.

G-Man said...

NASA laid off 11,000 workers today.
Loved your trip down memory lane!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have been to the space station in Houston and was most impressed with the technology and the size of the rockets etc.
These years have been wonderful ones to live through. Sad that the shuttle has landed for the last time - but we shall go on exploring space, I am sure of it.

Zoe de gaia said...

Salut toi…bien cool ton blog!!!
Merci pour tes gentil message chez moi!!!! j'ai été débordée, en plus je découvre ce super gentil commentaire sur moi c'est trop gentil je suis toute émue.Merci beaucoup pour votre intérêt mon travail.
Bonne journée à toi,
Je vous remercie.

Alice Audrey said...

I'm not 50 yet, but I remember that test pattern, and several others along the way. Put all together like this really brings home the changes in our lives fueled by NASA. I hope we have many other big, peaceful projects in our future.

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember most all of these for sure. Wow, how much has changed.

Teresa said...

Wow! Amazing post. I loved the walk down memory lane.

Karen S. said...

Ah this was a great tribute to the old golden age as they call it now, straight away up to the space connection, very well put together and bringing in Dick Van Dyke and Mary and the entire crew is priceless, they still run their reruns over and over and I still enjoy them! I remember when my family got the first color tv in the house...of course that was priceless in the neighborhood! Have a great weekend ;)

Kay said...

Wow! I sure do remember so much of that. Art used to work with a gigantic computer when he was in the Air Force. He still marvels at the size of computers these days... and they get smaller each year.

This is such a nostalgic post, Cloudia. Certainly, not everything was happy, but it's nice to remember.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cloudia -- Thanks for the reminder of how SPECIAL it was to have a TV rolled into your classroom! It was totally cool and important when that happened. I didn't know whether to stand for the TV sign-off and salute the flag...I think some cable/satellite stations should do that now. DrumMajor

Tammie said...

wow, so many memories! We sure have lived through endless big change.

ρομπερτ said...

Making time being felt. First things about TV I remember where series like 'Magnum or Miami Vice'.
First computer of mine had still a Tape to record its noisy data.

Please have you all a good start of the weekend.

daily athens

Pierre BOYER said...

Very nice blog...
It remember me the Kennedy Space Center I visited at Cape Canaveral....


Beach Bum said...

Its still cutting edge science with a huge chance it will never work out but I have read some dependable websites that say the Chinese are seriously studying the idea of mining Helium-3 from the surface of the moon to use in nuclear FUSION reactors her on Earth.

Before anyone tries to lynch me yes, solar and wind will be very important parts of any solution to get us off fossil fuels but they cannot provide the energy levels needed for huge urban areas.

But anyway, even if America throws in the towel on manned exploration and discovery there will be other nations like China and India that will refuse to stick their heads in the sand and enjoy blissful ignorance.

Windsmoke. said...

Fantastic trip down memory lane. Down here in Oz the first T.V. transmission was back in 1956 and i do remember the old black & white t.v. sets that were made of plywood and valves and the snow and having to get up off your bottom to change channels or adjust the sound and having the day off from school to watch the moon landings :-).

Leilani Lee said...

I remember well going to the market with my dad when I was a kid to test the tubes that came out of the back of the TV and the radio. I remember looking up at the night sky over Carmel Valley and watching a satellite cross the sky. I remember devouring the sci-fi stories of Robert Heinlein and others about rockets taking off for outer space, and then suddenly it was happening. Thanks Cloudia for the memories

The Elephant's Child said...

Windsmoke said it for me. We didn't get a TV until I was about 10. Black and White of course. So we hired one (for the day) to watch the moon landing.

Cloudia said...

I SO appreciate all the sharing of memories and wisdom that you have written here!!

I shall read each one many times, I'm sure.

Yes, Bonnie, you have stated what we all feel VERY well. Please pray for the USA. We must decide whether to live together humanely,
or to continue the plunder by a few.

I suspect more and more of us 'little' people will awaken and DEMAND sensible change.

magiceye said...

wonderful lesson in history!

namaste /\ from mumbai

kavita said...

Loved it ,loved it ,loved it .To me this is one of your best post.Thanks for this Cloudia:)

A said...

Documented it very well. I been to KSC and it is pity to see an end of an era.

paula devi said...

Cloudia, back, way back then didn't things like living seem so much simpler? I remember those test patterns like it was yesterday. We got our first TV when I was about five - 10" I think in a wooden cabinet like in the picture. I remember the milkman and the fresh milk every other day. Yes, we all went up into space and lots more things have changed. No looking back I guess. Seems like things get better as we move through the years and things get uglier, scarier and more insane as well. I'm thinking the Republicans, or most of them, could very well break this country down...and what is a country? Us. All of us.
Are we witnessing the Fall Of The Roman Empire?

SandyCarlson said...

You have me laughing and smiling and thinking back. We live in exciting times. May we be grateful for the blessings.

Cloudia said...

Thank YOU :)

Let us save our countries from madmen!

Indrani said...

All summed up so well. I have worked with valve version radars... and... those things still work!!! :)

Rob-bear said...

Great review of an era (and more).
That vacuum tube. I built an amplifier with three of those kind when I was in high school. (Yes, I know; I'm dating myself.)
Shuttles done; 11,000 more Americans unemployed.

Reader Wil said...

What a beautiful tribute to exploring space and the development of technology. I remember those TV-sets. They were amazing. I also remember that when my eldest daughter was two years old, the first men landed on the moon. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Jenny Woolf said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and joining it. What a great potted history this is! And yes, it's a strange, strange and sad feeling that the space mission has ended. I think we have enough to do on our own planet though. I'd like to see us putting some of that effort and technology on to making sure our kids and grandkids have somewhere good to live.

But also we need something that is exciting to aspire for. It feels ilke getting old to give up the space programme, somehow.

I'm English so I don't remember some of those things but my grandmother had a TV rather like the one your grandparents did!

Jenny Woolf said...

Oh did I ask you before if you have a followers list. I can't find it. Strange.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

That was a fabulous post Cloudia, enjoyed every bit of it, sometimes I find it a little scary the rate at which 'progress' hurtles along leaving a lot to answer for in it's wake!!

Birdman said...

I survived! I don't want to go back!

Dina said...

It is a wonderful OVERview of our history. I lived all of it. Our first TV was when I was five.
I remember the stern look on our principal in Chicago public school. She came to our classroom and and told that the Russians had launched Sputnik. "Now you kids are going to concentrate on math and science and American is going to catch up with them."
And how I cried when our Ilan Ramon and the crew exploded.

I think Ellison Shoji Onizuka has a page in the US passport. I'm glad of that.

who said...

I read it Cloudia, I read all your all posts. I don't know what to say, I wish all the people in the world would do what they say they are going to do. How do you get people to understand how what they do and how they live affects others?
Every time you think they get it, that they understand, and then it's obvious they don't. I don't understand the denial of how people only choose to remember when they are affected and intentionally forget their affect on the innocent.

Lots of great memories, there definitely were. I just can't get over the errors of the era. The colors red and yellow, the letters J Q and W and all things that everybody else is ok believing nothing can be done.

The world has come a long way, it's good to know that some things are not forgotten.

gigihawaii said...

Thanks for pointing out this post in your next post, because I had missed it while on vacation. I remember being in a bank in Thailand and watching with the bank clerks the landing on the moon. Everyone was glued to the TV. How proud I was to be an American! Still am.

Denise said...

I loved this post Cloudia, you have every right to be proud of it.

Jenn Jilks said...

You said it all. Incredible times. Yes, I remember it all. Yes, I am over 50! A beauteous tribute. One small step... we know our young people are able to carry on. I have confidence in the world.

who said...

and what I meant with the letters (because I know I often get obscure and it's frustrating)but as far as written word goes. It appears those were the characters added to the American English alphabet most recently, in the latter days.

Not that it changes anything about the timing and occurrence of spoken word, just official adoptions into the official AE alphabet

it's theory though, from what seems to be a natural progression, an order to successive appearance of characters.

if that makes sense

of course big things can be accomplished, I would even go as far as to say things can be fixed, and renewed so to speak. The time and energy spent by those in charge impeding each other is tearing our country apart.

Jannie Funster said...

LOL at the size of that first computer!!

West Philly, eh? Never been. That I know of. :) Hawaii seems a nice place to end up in, bring that great East Coast blood out to the Pacific.

That would be a perfect shape for a pencil sharpener!!

We only had 2 stations for like, 30 years!.


Gina said...

Great retrospective of the space age. I've always had mixed feelings about the space exploration. I wish things didn't always have to be so bloody political and could just could be a shared cooperative effort between nations.

Once an idealist, always an idealist, I guess!

It's hotter than Hades here in the Northeast and we don't do AC though this summer we wish we did!

Cloudia said...


Country Girl said...

I remember all of this and knew immediately what the test pattern was. I watched the moon landing in 1969 and although I never got the pencil sharpener, I remember the shape. You've told a great story here, Cloudia. Well done, indeed.

Cloudia said...

Thank YOU

Elizabeth Grimes said...

A fun and thoughtful post, though I must admit, I don't remember most of this! :)

SueAnn said...

A wonderful tribute to our past times. Brought several tears to my eyes!
Now the times are scary to say the least! Let us hope we will move onward and upward for sure!
Congrats on your POTW

Daryl said...

Congrats on a POTW mention!

Bossy Betty said...

Lots of memories here!

Congrats on your POTW!

Out on the prairie said...

my dad didn't think TV was really going to survive.we had a hi-fi until the late 50's

Cloudia said...

Thank YOU :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I love these trips down Memory Lane! And I do remember the test patterns when my three local TV stations went off the air at night. I remember the National Anthem.

And when the station turned back on early in the morning, they would show an American Flag and fighter jets flying in the crisp blue sky. Wow! What a blast from the past. For some crazy reason I miss the snow pattern too. Weird, I know.