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  Question For Kris Stoever

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Author Topic:   Question For Kris Stoever
Duke Of URL
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posted 01-27-2005 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope my question hasn't been beaten to death before.

I read "For Spacious Skies" again and wanted to remark that I always admired your father immensly. The story you told about the fallen power line didn't surprise me one bit but simply reinforced my impressions.

My question is this: what kinds of relationships did you (and other astronaut kids)have with your Dad's collegues?

I got an enormous well of affection for John Glenn and the story of your Mom and Gus Grissom just before the firehaving one of several "heart to heart" conversations speak of a closeness with people that never really showed on him. It was thoughtful of you to share this"secret".

Then there are a couple of things about Deke being "everybody's favorite tough guy pilot" raising morale by grouching at Al Shepard I'm not asking for dirt; I just want to knowwhat it was like to be a kid with all those great "uncles" around.

I will ask a direct question about two, however: who was more fun, Uncle Wally or Uncle Pete (Conrad)?

And you could always give us the poop on who was most handsome if you like.

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited January 27, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited January 28, 2005).]

carmelo
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posted 01-27-2005 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And "Uncle" John Young?

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-27-2005 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Mike Collins, he was "ugly old" John Young.

carmelo
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posted 01-29-2005 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Difficult temperament,eh?

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-29-2005 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, actually it was the opposite; he liked John Young quite a bit. His remark was about going to the bathroom in a Gemini craft with no privacy.

He was explaning how awkward it was, and his relief (!) there wasn't a female astronaut on board. It was bad enough doing that in front of "ugly old John Young", let alone a co-pilot of the female persuasion, Collins said.

I hope nobody thinks I insulted Mr. Young.

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited January 31, 2005).]

KC Stoever
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posted 01-30-2005 09:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry to get to this thread so late.

I have meant to contribute to a few others as well.

Will write this week.

In the meantime, the OP poses an interesting collection of questions.

And I'm so pleased, Duke, that you enjoyed FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-30-2005 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And I'm flattered you're pleased..

It's a relief to compliment a woman and not wind up with a court order slapped on me.

KC Stoever
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posted 01-31-2005 02:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding the early astronauts and my childhood memories and the way they were recounted in For Spacious Skies--two things.

First, the two anecdotes you mention in particular--about Deke being everybody's favorite "tough-guy" pilot and the Gus-Rene heart-to-heart before the 1967 fire--are word-for-word accounts written by my mother, Rene Carpenter.

In fact, most of the thumbnail sketches of the principals in FSS are hers. Her accounts resonated with my own less-authoritative recollections, and my father allowed them to stand in the various drafts. He was more interested in the S & T details, which I tended to massacre in the early drafts.

So, in my mother, I had invaluable help with the personal stories, about which you inquired. In my father I had equally priceless help with the aviation and spaceflight aspects of the tale.

Second, regarding memories in general, I was just shy of four when my father, a career naval officer, was selected for Project Mercury. I was born at Patuxent Naval Air Station. My godfathers were accomplished aviators and test pilots, like my father. These were the men, and their wives were the women, of my very circumscribed world. Were they extraordinary people in extraordinary times? Sure. But it was ordinary to me.

But I'll admit that I was aware of their importance, was aware that their work was dangerous and special.

Recall too that I was just twelve, and entering seventh grade, when my father resigned from NASA and we left Houston. And my contact with the many group 2 and 3 astronauts' families was minimal. I knew the Timber Cove families and the children who attended Seabrook Elementary School.

I therefore have distinct memories only of my Timber Cove neighbors. Pete Conrad and Jay Lovell were my age; only Pete was a regular playmate, though, along with the children of several notable engineers; Sally See and my sister Candy were inseparable. At Langley, Candy and Kent Slayton were likewise inseparable. But the Slaytons moved to Friendswood, not Timber Cove as NASA moved to Houston.

Lyn and David Glenn were stalwart older role models and next-door neighbors. The very pretty Cooper girls lived across Taylor Lake in El Lago, and rode horses as my sister and I did, but kept to themselves. The Shepard girls were older and lived in downtown Houston. The Schirras and Grissoms were only a block away.

As for the fathers, they were not in much evidence, as they were at work, or training, or in space.

John Glenn was uncommonly gifted with annoying children. I remember in particular taking one NASA flight to Florida, probably to visit my father, then in training for either MA-6 or MA-7. My sister and I (then 5 and 6 and bored) were hyperventilating over repeated practice spellings of "OCCUPIED" (long ago, airplane seats were labeled with these signs). We repeated O-C-C-U-P-I-E-D, ad nauseam. We may even have turned the spelling game into a song, or a chant. We were loud.

John Glenn intervened gently, blowing up balloons he always had handy and twisting them into animal shapes.

We were vastly entertained. It kept us quiet until the plane landed.

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-31-2005 03:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm pretty good at annoying my kids, too. And their mothers, while we're at it. (Among other occasions my first ex-wife lost her mind when I bought our daughter a motorcycle for her 18th birthday) I've the dings, dents and divorce papers to prove it!

Thanks for the reply. I hope all your friends from then are well.

I can't say nice things without being a sap, so I'll ask a favor: please think of a bunch of complimentary remarks about your mother, father, your book and yourself (for taking the time to answer) and pretend I said them.

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited January 31, 2005).]

KC Stoever
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posted 01-31-2005 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Duke.

Regarding the account of the downed powerline that you remember. I later found a press clipping of the event, written up by local reporter James Schefter.

I had two details wrong in the book. It wasn't a storm but a neighborhood boy who downed the powerline by launching a metal rake into the electrical wires in an effort to recover a kite or a ball. The rake brought the powerline down, which is when my father intervened with his axe. It was frightening to watch, mostly because everyone watching seemed so frightened.

The second detail I got wrong was the date. It happened in March 1964, before his motorbike accident in Bermuda, not after.

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-31-2005 05:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again. At the risk of drowning everyone in sap, allow me to say I wish I had the sort of spine your father does.

If you ever get the chance and dhe doesn't mind sharing, could you ask your Mom about the most fun / handsomest astronaut? I don't want dirt, putdown, gossip or scandal, just a smile or two.

Thanks again. And again.

ejectr
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posted 01-31-2005 08:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duke:

I think she meant John Glenn was good with children who were annoying.....not good at annoying children.

Re-read how that was written.

KC Stoever
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posted 01-31-2005 08:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I might be wrong, but I understood Duke to conflate "good with" and "good at" for comic purposes.

Duke loves lore. He loves also to self-deprecate as a comic touchstone.

ejectr
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posted 01-31-2005 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're probably right about the Duke, KC.

[This message has been edited by ejectr (edited January 31, 2005).]

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-01-2005 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I never played football much. But you're right; when I did it was comic.

Hey, please accept my best wishes for you and your entire family. I hope I can meet your father some day. THAT would be a real privelege.

NASAVideographer
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posted 02-02-2005 02:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NASAVideographer   Click Here to Email NASAVideographer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kris, you mentioned that you were born at Pax River...In the early 80's my dad was stationed at Pax River and we lived on board the base in a housing complex called...Carpenter Park! I didn't realize until many years later that places like Carpenter Park and Shepard's Court were named after the Mercury astronauts. I think all 7 had a different housing complex named after them...

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-02-2005 07:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Up in the Syracuse 'burbs there's a Gordon Cooper Drive.

Anybody who wants to see it can visit during the six or seven days we aren't buried in snow.

However, when the snow is gone the ground is covered by cow flops, so watch your step.

KC Stoever
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posted 02-02-2005 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASAVid--

Thanks for the note about Patuxent. I didn't know that about the Mercury astro-named complexes (I assume they honored only the navy/marine contingent?).

We lived on Kearsarge Street from 1954 to 1957, and were there for TPS 13 (which I think was from December to June 1955--the TPS classes were half a year), followed by a few years of electronics test piloting. We had come straight to Patuxent from a first tour of duty (Korea, but homebased in Hawaii). Guy Howard, storied WWII pilot, nominated my Dad. Howard had been TPS class 1.

As it happened, John Glenn was in the previous class (TPS 12), so there was some overlap on base, and five years later Carpenter and Glenn met up again for the 1959 selection process; they were both in the first group called to the Pentagon, and their testing also overlapped at Lovelace. But by then, practically every U.S. military pilot had heard of, and recognized, Glenn.

Alan Shepard had been through Patuxent years earlier, I think TPS class 5.

Schirra was class 20, along with Lovell, Conrad, and Bob Solliday (who was another of the 32 Project Mercury finalists, and the only other Marine besides Glenn in that final group)--all of whom were represented in the 1959 selection process for Project Mercury.

Anyway, Patuxent (or Edwards) was THE credential to have, among some other more arbitrary ones (like height and age), if you wanted to be considered in 1959.

But I ramble. Say "Patuxent" and that happens to me.

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-02-2005 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ms. Stoever,

You're lucky. Whenever someone says something that makes me ramble, a court date usually ensues.

It's due to parenting. Scott Carpenter was a capital-F Father and a high-class guy. RV Stamey was the quintessential Old Man. He was loaded with class, but most of it was low.

And your father was a good example; the Old Man was more along the lines of a cautionary tale.

Still, it was exciting to live (I didn't say "grow up" because I never have, according to some of my ex-wives)with the only man I ever met who could turn the air blue - intelligibly! - while holding a flashlight in his teeth.

If you don't mind me asking, how is your Mother? Here's a secret (please don't tell anybody because your father looks like he's in good shape and could kick my butt): I had a huge crush on your Mom when I was a kid.

My own mother had to raise us alone from the late 50s on, so I know how much work it was and the fortitude it needed. These women had steel in their skirts for sure.

I'd like to read biographies of the astronauts' wives, auto and otherwise. There must be some real stories there....and I don't mean the dirt, either. I mean like Frank Borman crying in Susan Borman's arms when Eastern folded. How much love and trust did he have for her if a tough guy like him could let go that way?

Now I'm rambling. But I'd really like to hear their stories some day.

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-02-2005 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BTW: I wouldn't want you to get the impression I never married strong women myself. One bent a frying pan over my head, and even though it was aluminum there was a certain amount of oom-pah-pah involved.

I won't supply the gory details, but it involved me coming home late and trying to cover up by saying "I hope you didn't pay the ransom, I escaped!"

Bad move.

Years later she gave it to our daughter so she could threaten her husband with the old Rufus-Goofus I got. But he's a good boy. That's probably why I never liked him all that much.

"Ex-Wife" is a term that makes ME ramble. At least I didn't go into the time another ex destroyed a vacuum cleaner with my head because she didn't see the humor in one of my (very funny) remarks.


[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited February 02, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited February 02, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited February 02, 2005).]

KC Stoever
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posted 02-02-2005 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duke,

LOL. You're what my Dad would call "a caution!"

Rene Carpenter is well and happily remarried for the past 25 years or so. Thank you for asking.

When I researched the book, I spoke to lots of old acquaintances who admitted to having a crush on Rene Carpenter.

You are not the first cSPACEr to ask about a astronaut wives bio. It would be a great contribution to the literature--but what a mixed group--stalwart long-marrieds who wouldn't say much beyond the platitudes and ex-es with perhaps too much to say. The effort would require a Kitty Kelley, IMO.

FFrench
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posted 02-02-2005 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Duke Of URL:
I'd like to read biographies of the astronauts' wives, auto and otherwise.

I am assuming you've read "The Moon Is Not Enough" by Mary Irwin? Even in a lifelong marriage that worked well, you get a real sense of the frustration of having a husband away all the time.

And, of course, there is Betty Grissom's "Starfall."

FF

ColinBurgess
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posted 02-02-2005 06:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And let's not forget that Nancy Conrad's book on Pete will be out soon.

KC Stoever
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posted 02-02-2005 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Francis and Colin,

You two are much better read in space history than I am. (If I knew my UBB code, I'd italicize "much.") Some of the books are tough to read, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. So I put off reading them.

I didn't really know much about the Mary Irwin book, and I guess Starfall is a must--both of them written by the OWs.

The Conrad memoir I'm looking forward to!

I wonder how involved the Conrad sons are in the effort.

FFrench
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posted 02-02-2005 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
I guess Starfall is a must

Hi Kris,

There are certainly a lot of Betty's thoughts in Starfall (pub. 1974) that ended up in Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" - I suspect Wolfe's book wouldn't have been as good without this book having come out first.

Thanks,

FF

Carrie
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posted 02-02-2005 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Duke Of URL:
Up in the Syracuse 'burbs there's a Gordon Cooper Drive.

Really? What 'burb? I had no idea it existed! -C

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-02-2005 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yo! Carrie!

Yes'um. It's there in Jamesville. If you're familiar with the place, it's off the road on the way to the Beach.

For anyone else, it's off a place called Apulia Rd. Apulia is named after the heel of the Italian boot, as Syracuse is named for the city in Sicily (itself named for the swans that flocked there).

The road runs along a creek in a beautiful valley with farms and small homes. Off to the right, leading toward the hilltop is Gordon Cooper Drive.

I don't know if it's an actual Town of DeWitt road (it might be LaFayette at that point on Apulia Rd.) or if a farmer put it there. It's maintained, though, and the sign LOOKS official.

Some warm fall days a wind blows through the nearby apple orchards and all you can think of is cider and pie.

Hot summer days can bring a wind all the way from Old Mr. Albanese's barn up the opposite hill. Then you think of politics.

I can try to grab a picture of it for posting here if it's OK and people would like to see it.

However, sleigh bells are mandatory on cars up here and my set won't be here until next week.

So let me know!

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-02-2005 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[QUOTE]Originally posted by KC Stoever:
[B]Duke,

LOL. You're what my Dad would call "a caution!" [QUOTE]

Lots of women told me their fathers cautioned them about me. I'm pretty used to that now.

Carrie
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posted 02-03-2005 07:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Duke Of URL:
Yes'um. It's there in Jamesville. If you're familiar with the place, it's off the road on the way to the Beach.

Cool! I'll have to check it out sometime if I'm down that way, or, I'd like to see a pic...no hurry though...even waiting for sleigh bells, you're likely to get the pic before I get down that way! -C

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-03-2005 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
DOWN that way?? Where are you - Baffin Island????

Above The Clouds
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posted 02-04-2005 05:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Above The Clouds   Click Here to Email Above The Clouds     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duke

Your head has destroyed a frying pan and a vacum cleaner, you must have one hard head.

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-04-2005 07:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the endorsement!

The actual measure of how hard a head I've got is the fact I not only kept getting married but I continued to make jokes.

I guess I'm just a fool for love. In my own defense I'll say that if you're going to be a fool over something, better love than anything else.

Just remember - no matter where you are it's probably warmer than here. Keep smiling.

[This message has been edited by Duke Of URL (edited February 04, 2005).]

Matt T
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posted 02-04-2005 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duke,

I'll take that bet. On Monday I should have been home in Chester, daytime temperature about 8 to 10C. Where was I?

Shivering in a street-side photo booth half a mile from the British consulate in Moscow. Daytime temperature? -14C.

Guess who lost their passport in Domodedovo airport...

Cheers,
Matt

P.S. If anyone ever finds themselves in the same situation I have one piece of advice. Instead of spending two days filling in forms for the police, the FSB and the consulate just hand over a $50 bribe up front. It's amazing how quickly your passport reappears.

------------------
www.spaceracemuseum.com

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-04-2005 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had an incident like that with Officer Friendly. I was sloshed - these were Hippie Days - and rolled up on him. I said, "If you're so friendly, why are you carrying a gun?"

Long-hairs didn't talk to Philadelphia cops like that. More than once, anyhow. He kicked my butt all the way to the Canadian border and put me in cuffs. talk about your ass getting an all-over shoe massage! I asked if I could just give him the fine now so he could pass it to the judge. Fifty bucks - plus a final boot in the kiester- and I was on my way.

Moscow, huh? They have Commie thermometers there and I wouldn't trust them.

spaceman1953
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posted 02-04-2005 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
THIS thread, you guys and Kris, is worth 1000 times the price of admission !

THANKS for sharing ALL that information ! ! ! !

I have not yet picked up/read For Spacious Skies.....I collect/hoard, rarely read this stuff.....but it is moving up the list FAST !

These side notes are PRICELESS !

Your mom (?) Rene Carpenter, had lots of "press" in those Mercury days......I remember that quite clearly......so it is good to know she is well.

THANKS again for sharing !

Your dad was in the area several years ago, and took time to sign, shake hands and chat with anyone who showed up that night at Art Klingers' Planetarium at P-H-M. Us space geeks are forever greateful !

Gene Bella
South Bend

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-04-2005 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hoo boy....one of my ex-wives is from Indiana.

Carrie
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posted 02-04-2005 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Duke Of URL:
DOWN that way?? Where are you - Baffin Island????

How'd you guess? Hehe, no, just North Of The Thruway, and not inclined to drive around town much I know, I know, I need to get out from behind the computer once in a while...maybe later...click click click...

All times are CT (US)

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