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  One giant leap too far for Armstrong?

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Author Topic:   One giant leap too far for Armstrong?
dom
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posted 12-10-2006 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Neil Armstrong was in Dublin, Ireland during the week to launch some new Microsoft's software.

I quote verbatum from today's Irish Sunday Business Post report of this surreal event:

"Astronaut Neil Armstrong was in no mood for pleasantries when he launched Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, in Croke Park last Tuesday.

Having taken a huge pay cheque from Microsoft to turn up for the day, he insisted that no autographs were to be permitted and no unauthorised photographs were to be permitted. He also insisted that there was to be a general fatwah on anything linking him to Microsoft or any other organisation for the day.

Indeed, when one of a small group of journalists politely enquired whether he ever got sick of people shaking his hand, he frostily replied: 'Yes'."

ejectr
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posted 12-10-2006 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Geez...I remember when I went to meet Buzz Aldrin at MIT once. I was standing next to him waiting for a picture to be taken and I felt a sharp jab in my gut. He had elbowed me in the stomach to get my attention from smiling at the camera. I looked down to see Buzz's outstreatched hand waiting to be grasped. Buzz looks at me and says..."shake my hand".

Nothing frosty about it.

Astro Bill
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posted 12-10-2006 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two very different kinds of astronaut-celebrities.

Good thing that no one asked Neil about his hair.

mjanovec
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posted 12-10-2006 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's hard to know where to begin. For every "frosty Neil" story, I'm sure there are dozens of stories of a warm and friendly Neil. After all, we're talking about a guy who generally is happy to shake hands and pose for photos, even if he no longer autographs items.

You have to realize the perspective of the person who is reporting Neil's behavior. If someone isn't aware of Neil's dislike for the exploitation of his autograph and/or image, they can easily conclude Neil has a lunar core tube sample stuck where the sun doesn't shine. I can't necessarily fault them for thinking that (as they don't know better), but one must consider all that Neil has had to endure for the past 35+ years. I don't feel sorry for Neil, but I can only imagine how tiring it must be to always be under pressure from a public who expects an autograph, a photo, a handshake, and a warm/friendly Neil. Ironically, today it's mostly the space collectors who know not to bug Neil for an autograph...well, most of them. The general public probably doesn't know better. So he has to politely tell dozens of people "No" each time he makes an appearance...and he has to tell many more people "no" if he doesn't tell the organziers about his no-autograph rule. And no matter how polite he is about it, there will always be some people who conclude he is a jerk for saying no...or they will push him harder, thinking that he'll relent and sign if he's hassled enough. That's when a less pleasant side of Neil sometimes emerges (and rightly so).

Plus, we all have bad days. The only difference is that when one of us has a bad day, there usually isn't someone posting about it on the internet for thousands of people to read (and from which to draw hasty conclusions).

CAC
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posted 12-10-2006 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CAC   Click Here to Email CAC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From my experience with Mr. Armstrong, I must say he was more than kind. I, like many of you, had the chance to hear him speak at the National Air and Space Museum at the John Glenn lecture. Unlike many of you, I really didn't understand a danged thing he was talking about. My grasp and knowledge of engineering, Newton's Laws, etc., is such that he might as well have been speaking in Latin. I tried asking my friend, a Physics professor at a local University, to help with some of my questions but he wouldn't help, claiming he didn't have the time. Thus, I did the only logical thing, which was to ask questions of Armstrong himself.

I wrote him a letter, explaining the situation and that I honestly didn't expect a reply. I also indicated that I had no expectation that he would answer and that I would thus get an autograph out of the deal when he signed the letter. I included a business card so he could answer via email if he wished...a sure fire way to insure there is no autograph.

Would you believe that about two weeks after I sent the letter by mail I got an email in my inbox from "N.A. Armstrong"? I was having a hissy fit when I saw that name in my inbox.

Alas, it wasn't actually from him. It was an email from his research assistant explaining rather complex answers to the questions I had regarding Armstrong's presentation. Still, I about fell out...my close friend who has a doctorate in Physics and teaches physics for a living told me he didn't have time to answer the questions. Yet Mr. Armstrong found the time to answer a letter from someone he didn't know anymore than Adam's off Ox (allbeit, through his assistant...but still, I got my answer).

Armstrong is like anyone else. He has good days and bad. I'm sure it is hard living with his type of celebrity. He's famous for such a strange and unique reason. This isn't the fleeting celebrity of Lindsay Lohan. This is eternal fame. Sometimes I'm sure he has a hard time dealing with it. Then other times he reads letters from idiots in Arkansas and asks his staff to reply to what has to be the most pedestrian of questions.

Yes, he was the first man. But the first man is a man first. He didn't stop being a man simply because he was the first to step on the moon.

Spacepsycho
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posted 12-11-2006 12:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last year at the Society of Experimental Test Pilots annual gathering at Disneyland, I was lucky to meet and get a couple of photos with NA. He had no problems with my taking photos during his presentation. It was a packed audience who were mainly old bold test pilots that were friends of NA and the newer generation test pilots who were in awe of him. I sat next to the chief test pilot of the X-35 program and he was more excited than I was at meeting NA.

For 30-40 minutes NA was swarmed with 200-300 people wanting to shake his hand, take a photo with and to get an autograph from him. He was very gracious to take photos with everyone who asked, he shook hands with everyone and he was more than polite in refusing autographs. Flanked by his old friends Bill Dana, Stan B. and others, he made his way out of the room, leaving everyone happy.

That evening there was a buffet reception in an outside venue. I didn't expect to see NA there but he showed up and again, was initally swamped by old friends, dozens & dozens of military & industry bigwigs, plus a smattering of people like me.

While everyone was eating, people would walk up to NA and ask to meet him, shake his hand, take a photo and disturb him while he was eating with some old friends. Literally every 1-2 minutes NA would stop his eating & conversation, stand up, shake hands, take photos with people, then sit down to resume dinner. I was in shock that people would be so rude to bother him while eating, especially since they weren't old friends or even knew him. This went on for 1-2 hours and he never turned down a request for a handshake or a photo from anyone.

During the evening 300-400 people that included many older test pilots, people like Fitz Fulton, Gordon Fullerton, Dick Truly and others, were led into California Adventure to ride a few attractions. I watched as NA walked up to the group I was with and just listened in. Everyone was excited to have him in the group, we chatted for 10-15 minutes and he couldn't have been more enjoyable to talk with.

At the end of the conversation I asked him if he would sign my Lunar Orbiter, I explained what it was and he politely declined, so I had taken my best & only shot. Yes, I had it in the car in case he said he would sign it.

All in all, I wouldn't have imagined he was so nice, especially with all of the public pressure to perform. It's not a life I'd enjoy and you can't imagine what it's like to live like this, until you've seen it first hand.

BTW, I've also emailed NA to ask a question about an important artifact or to ask if he remembers and old friend who I've run into. He always takes the time to answer through his assistant and I always get a rush everytime I seen an email from N.A. Armstrong. He's a class act.

[Edited by Spacepsycho (December 11, 2006).]

mjanovec
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posted 12-11-2006 12:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BTW, I suspect the no photographs rule at the Microsoft gathering was to prevent there being photos of Neil standing next to the Microsoft logo or Microsoft hardware...lest anyone assume such a photograph indicated an endorsement of Microsoft or its products.

spaceflori
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posted 12-11-2006 01:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceflori   Click Here to Email spaceflori     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm pretty sure Neil's using an Apple at home so he feels quiet uncomfortable.

Remember Apollo 11 and Armstrong always stand for the "giant leap of mankind" - what can't be neccessarily said of Vista.
(if you compare it with MacOS)

Florian

albatron@aol.com
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posted 12-11-2006 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron@aol.com   Click Here to Email albatron@aol.com     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And of course, we're assuming the reporting of the event is accurate also.

Hey if it is true, maybe he had a bad flight, bad day - bad whatever.

I still respect him far more than I respect a lot of other people and he's certainly up at the top of my list.

I have spoken about him with many old test pilots and astronauts - most recently Joe Kittinger who is close to him. They to a man, who know the REAL Neil, think the world of him. They also thoroughly enjoyed the book "First Man" and feel it painted him in a human light that the public never sees.

Put him in a room with all the surviving pre-Shuttle astronauts, and let 100 people in. Imagine who all 100 will go to. Then imagine what he's had to endure all his life.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 12-11-2006 08:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's probably the weather...or, from the tone of the report, the reporter failed to get HIS autograph.

When half a dozen or so of us UK-based Cs'ers met him in Dublin at a private event he was charming. Blackarrow and I had a good chat with him about gliding.

Just imagine the tedium he must feel of having the n'th nobody come up, shake his hand and try and get an autograph. The poor man is backed into a corner at every opportunity.

Paul Bramley


fabfivefreddy
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posted 12-11-2006 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fabfivefreddy   Click Here to Email fabfivefreddy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds to me like Neil did a good job of preventing a media circus. I am sure he has opinions about his involvement with any corporation. That does not make him a "better or worse" celebrity. Just smart.

Tahir

leslie
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posted 12-11-2006 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for leslie   Click Here to Email leslie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm with Al on this one.

NA is renowned for his unpredictability however, most people, me included in the past, fail to appreciate the demands made on him whenever appearing at a public gathering.
OK, that may be said of others but, the "tag" has followed him everywhere since July 1969 and it's not as though he can take it off from time to time!
NA can be "short" on occasion and has been with me via emails, but, not all the time!
We all have a bad day and, if the reporting was correct, albeit I am not convinced, then good for NA when faced with such inane and purile questions like "Do you get fed up shaking people's hands?"...NA never did, apparently, suffer fools gladly, so why are we surprised?

------------------
Leslie

A.Pelago
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posted 12-11-2006 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for A.Pelago     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We all have good days and we all have bad days. Armstrong is renowned for being a bit of a recluse. He rarely appears in public and his 60 Minutes interview was the first he has done in many, many years. There are countless accounts of people having pleasant encounters with him and we've seen photos posted on here of him posing with children. The positive encounters seem to be at aviation, space or veteran related events. Things that interest him and for which he likely doesn't get paid an appearance fee at all.

However, if he dislikes the commercialisation of his name, his autograph and his image so much, then why does he choose to do events like this Microsoft launch? He knows he's going to get mobbed. He knows there's going to be a good deal of media attention especially when he's in Cork or anywhere else that he rarely visits. Experience will tell him that anyone who gets close enough will want an autograph, a photograph, a few words, a hand-shake. If he dislikes this so much, then why does he make commercial appearances at all?

mjanovec
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posted 12-11-2006 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by A.Pelago:
We all have good days and we all have bad days. Armstrong is renowned for being a bit of a recluse. He rarely appears in public and his 60 Minutes interview was the first he has done in many, many years.

There's that word I was waiting for..."recluse." I don't think Neil is a recluse at all. He doesn't make many advertised public appearances, but neither does he lock himself away inside of his home for weeks on end. Howard Hughes was a recluse. Not Neil Armstrong. He lives his life and is out in the public quite often...however, he chooses not to live in the public eye very often...that's the difference. It's just that most people don't recognize him when he is out in public. I suspect he likes it that way. It's only when he makes an advertised appearance that people recognize him and mob him. As such, I think it's understandable why he limits those appearances to a few each year.

Why does he do paid public appearances at all, you ask? Quite simply, he needs the income. Neil isn't poor by any means, but he likely doesn't get enough of a retirement check to satisfy his needs. So he makes one or two paid appearances each year. One paid appearance might earn him six figures. Note, also, that he does make several unpaid appearances too...attending aviation events and charity events where he isn't paid (except for maybe reimbursement of expenses).

[Edited by mjanovec (December 11, 2006).]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-11-2006 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
He doesn't make many advertised public appearances, but neither does he lock himself away inside of his home for weeks on end.
To support what Mark writes, some may have noticed that we have quietly brought back online seven years of Recent Sightings photographs submitted by our readers. Each astronaut's/cosmonaut's Sightings page now has a gallery of images from their public appearances since cS began (and for which, obviously, someone provided a photo).

Armstrong's page has 20 images, more than twice that of most of his fellow listed space explorers. While acknowledging that there is a bias by submitters who are more likely to grab the camera for Armstrong than perhaps a shuttle mission specialist, it still demonstrates that he is far from hidden from public view.

[Edited by Robert Pearlman (December 11, 2006).]

Novaspace
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posted 12-11-2006 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Novaspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceflori:
I'm pretty sure Neil's using an Apple at home so he feels quiet uncomfortable.

Remember Apollo 11 and Armstrong always stand for the "giant leap of mankind" - what can't be neccessarily said of Vista.
(if you compare it with MacOS)

Florian


LOL Florian. Microsoft always brings out the worst in people (and itself.) Maybe MS should offer to buy the rights to Apollo-or maybe just steal it and say it was their idea.

Kim Poor

AstronautBrian
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posted 12-11-2006 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstronautBrian   Click Here to Email AstronautBrian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't put any stock into this report. We don't know for sure if this guy was even there. For all we know he could have heard a second-hand story from someone Neil may have refused an autograph request to.

Besides, everyone is entitled to have a bad day here and there. Heck, I had one yesterday and was very out of character.

------------------
"I am sui generis; just leave it at that." - Huey P. Long

Blackarrow
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posted 12-11-2006 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CAC:
Yes, he was the first man. But the first man is a man first. He didn't stop being a man simply because he was the first to step on the moon.
And you, sir, are a wise man for pointing this out.

[Edited by collectSPACE Admin (December 11, 2006).]

Rodina
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posted 12-12-2006 01:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina   Click Here to Email Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by A.Pelago:

if he dislikes the commercialisation of his name, his autograph and his image so much, then why does he choose to do events like this Microsoft launch? He knows he's going to get mobbed . . .If he dislikes this so much, then why does he make commercial appearances at all?


Precisely.

leslie
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posted 12-12-2006 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for leslie   Click Here to Email leslie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
=========================================
Why does he do paid public appearances at all, you ask? Quite simply, he needs the income. Neil isn't poor by any means, but he likely doesn't get enough of a retirement check to satisfy his needs
==========================================

So, all he needs to do is make one appearance at a Novaspace signing and then he is set for the rest of his days......lol

------------------
Leslie

Mike Dixon
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posted 12-12-2006 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting "debate", is is not ?

Privacy on your terms at the exclusion of all else or privacy for the sanctity of what it may mean to you ?

NO judgement mind you .... he has, in my opinion, done FAR FAR more than his fair share ... but I do wonder what other interests might best be served with an autograph session to satisfy both his "requirements" and those of an audience prepared to "donate" an appropriate sum .... and I hasten to a known / business sponsored charity.

It is his right to pick and choose after all ... but this venture ? Dunno ....

Mike


leslie
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posted 12-12-2006 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for leslie   Click Here to Email leslie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mike,

My comments did end with an LOL!

I have now heard from the NA camp that "we often encounter reporting of this kind..." and I suggested that perhaps as he wishes to put certain restrictions in place when appearing at a lecture or appearance, that should he agree to a press conference in future, that he follow the trend of only answering questions that have been submitted, in writing, prior to the press conference, thus allowing him to choose which questions to answer.
That in itself is, as you put it, another debate however, it does minimise the opportunities of mis-reporting.

As James Hansen said, "Neil is Neil"

------------------
Leslie

tegwilym
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posted 12-12-2006 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Novaspace:
LOL Florian. Microsoft always brings out the worst in people (and itself.)


I'll attest to that!
Either you love Microsoft or you hate them. I've got over 6.5 years working there (as a vendor) in 2 different jobs. My second tour there drove me nearly to insanity. I'm glad to have escaped a second time and now I'm running Linux 100% of the time (at least on my work computer). I'd do the same at home if more of my favorite software would work on Linux.

Tom

Tom
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posted 12-12-2006 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the honor of attending Mr. Armstrongs' lecture at the NASM in Washington, D.C. this year.
As he was leaving I casually went up to show him a photo I had since 1969 of the Apollo 11 crew taken at the New York City tickertape parade.
Knowing his feelings on signing, it never crossed my mind to ask him, and I think he appreciated that and gave me a hand shake.
He also posed for pictures that evening.
I couldn't have asked for more.

mjanovec
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posted 12-12-2006 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
Knowing his feelings on signing, it never crossed my mind to ask him, and I think he appreciated that and gave me a hand shake.
He also posed for pictures that evening.
I couldn't have asked for more.

And you came away with a great memory not tainted by a refusal for an autograph...plus, like you say, he probably appreciated that you didn't ask for an autograph.

To me, a photo standing with Neil is as good as an autograph...because it proves that you met him better than any autograph could. In fact, when you see that photo you'll likely have greater memories of the encounter than an autograph would have given you...little details in the photo will bring back more vivid memories than a few ink lines on paper ever could.

Granted, your photo has little "market" value, but I'm sure it means a great deal to YOU! Neil is one smart cookie, if you ask me. He knows how to impart a great memory and provide a memento without picking up his pen.

As for others who reasoned that Neil should stop attending events that he supposedly doesn't want to attend...you're assuming he doesn't want to attend them. For all we know, he may have had a great time at the Microsoft gathering and 99% of the people were happy with his appearance. That may have been tempered with a brief moment of dealing with an unpleasant person...and that's ALWAYS the moment that will be reported in the press.

Crsh4Csh
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posted 12-14-2006 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Crsh4Csh   Click Here to Email Crsh4Csh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can only speak for my experience of the first meeting w Mr. N.A. , He could not have been warmer and i nicer man to my son and i , we were not introduced to him by anybody , nor did we know anyone that knew him , i think it was just a timeing thing , we actually saw him the previous evening , but he was totally swamped by people so we chose to try again at a better time , and got lucky. Some of the pictures of that first meeting are posted here in CS under " free space " , "Deck Braun and his astro-buddies" NA was very very gracious to my son and i and posed for several photos , the look on my little boys face is priceless to me..... just my experience with the man. Eddie

JasonIUP
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posted 12-18-2006 10:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JasonIUP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some people feel a little bit sorry for Neil having to endure hearing "Can you sign this?" at every event he goes to. Maybe he does feel backed into a corner by people who think that they can wear him down. But, may I remind everyone that he put himself in this position by refusing to sign--even for a charity. I like the guy on the whole, but I simply disagree with his mindset on signing and don't feel bad that he has to face autograph seekers.

mjanovec
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posted 12-19-2006 01:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JasonIUP:
But, may I remind everyone that he put himself in this position by refusing to sign--even for a charity. I like the guy on the whole, but I simply disagree with his mindset on signing and don't feel bad that he has to face autograph seekers.

Your argument is flawed. Neil has had to face autograph seekers ever since he set foot on the moon. It didn't start because he stopped signing. Actually, it probably started it 1962 when he was named to NASA's second group of astronauts. And Neil accomodated them all for decades before deciding to retire from signing in the mid 90s.

If Neil were to sign for someone at a gathering now, it would be like unleashing the floodgates...everyone within sight would come forward and ask for one too.

I have to respect the man for sticking to his decision once he made it. And us collectors should thank him for providing free autographs for all of those years. Yeah, I was one of those who came too late to the hobby to get a free signature. But such is life. I am still grateful to Neil for his generosity to collectors over the years.

John K. Rochester
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posted 12-19-2006 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Plus!! Who's to say what a valid charity is anymore? How often have the famous been asked to donate something for "Charity"..when it turns out, the supposed "charity" is lining their own pockets. Neil stopped signing..end of story! Any knowledgable space collector who continues to ask on the "off chance" he'll change his mind doesn't respect the man.

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