Monday, January 14, 2013

Anything for attention.....

We had a man that was a clown, and was also about blind, therefore had a pair of glasses that were supposed to be unbreakable.  He worked in the Ops Room in CC at the Cape.  When we'd have a lot of VIPs in to watch the shot, he'd pull one of his pranks.  He started out with a lot of euphuisms instead of really cursing, banging the chairs around, throwing his glasses down and jump on them, picking them up and putting them back on.  This one day he jumped on them and they broke.  Everybody in the room howled with laughter and the VIPs thought he was crazy.  They started leaving until somebody told them that it was a joke that had backfired.  That he really wasn't crazy.  His wife had to come to the gate to get him as he couldn't see to drive home.  There was never a boring day.
Mary Lynn Thorne

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Too much time on their hands.....

I was working in Timing and Firing in Central Control when this happened.  What I learned from this story is to never leave intelligent people with NOTHING to do. They will do something and it is seldom good. We had been trying to get a Navaho off and everybody was tired.  The night shift guys, including my husband, had a habit of setting little paper bags with components in them (diodes, transistors, etc.) on my desk.  I had to clean my desk off before I could get my status report in and it made me late.  I yelled so much that I came in one morning and there was only one large paper bag on my desk, and I wondered what they had done.  I started to move the sack when a 'snake' (made out of colored wires) came hissing out of the bag.  I was startled but not scared, but there was a janitor behind me and he threw down his mop and did not quit running until he got to the South Gate.  He never came back.  The guys had worked all night drilling holes to hook up an air hose to the 'snake' and drilling a hole in my desk getting the 'snake' ready to come out of the sack.  What they had not counted on was the janitor.  He was so scared that he would not come back to the Cape.  I didn't have anymore trouble with little sacks on my desk.  Mary Lynn Thorne

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bigamy doesn't pay...

One of the stories I remember was of a couple who wanted to get married, but his wife would not give him a divorce.  He transferred downrange and a few months later he told her to come down that his wife had decided to give him a divorce.  She went down and they had a wedding with orchids, dress, and all the things that make a great wedding.  They were happy for a few months when he was arrested for bigamy.  He was not divorced.  He lost his job and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.   I saw her a few times after that, but she had a very unhappy life.
Mary Lynn Thorne

Tales from the Cape

My name is Mary Lynn Thorne, I am 75 years old.  I was born in McKenzie, Tennessee in 1937.  I had a normal child's life -swimming, skating, horseback riding  and running around with friends.  I liked to target shoot, especially if I were out-shooting my boy cousins.  I had long red braids down to my waist.  In the summer, I mostly went with my father, driving a pick-up truck.  I had a great childhood.  I went to work at Cape Canaveral in September of 1955 for RCA.
Tales from the Cape:  One of the tales I remember vividly was that of Tom and Ester Potts.  Tom worked around the corner from me in Supply in Central Control for PAA.  Ester worked at Optics.  Tom had to spend a lot of time in a mental hospital in Texas.  He was a harsh man, brutal to his wife.  He would chase her out into the street with a gun.  Beat her and put her in the hospital occasionally.
We girls liked to go to Orlando shopping on Saturdays and Ester was the last one we picked up.  We tried to take six to save on gasoline.  She had a huge footlocker, at least eight feet long with pillows and cushions on it, so we sat on that while waiting for Ester to get her things to go shopping.  A few weeks went by and the footlocker began to smell.  It had rained a lot, so we thought it was mold and offered to help her clean her Florida Room up.
A couple of weeks later we heard that Ester had been arrested for killing Tom.  She was a tiny woman and he was a big man, but she got him in that footlocker somehow.  Here for all those weeks we had been sitting on Tom in the footlocker!  We couldn't believe it.  All the neighbors and friends went to court with her and after the judge heard the whole story, he let Ester go and she went back to work and we never mentioned Tom again.
Mary Lynn Thorne

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exert taken from Oral History for Darryl L Bookman

Darryl L. Bookman lived in West Virginia until November 8, 1965 when he decided to move to Florida. He was working for a power company in West Virginia where he had a bad winter of breaking ice off wires, in 22 degrees weather and winds blowing at 30 miles per hour. He and his wife came to Florida to visit her parents and he said this is the place for me. No more cold, snowing, ice weather for me.

He got a job working for McDonnell Douglas, not knowing a thing about the space program. He had watched shots on T.V. but didn’t know anything about the Cape. When he met his supervisor and introduced himself the supervisor asked about his background and he said he didn’t have any experience and the supervisor said, why do they keep sending me people like this, and Mr. Bookman said “what did I get myself into?” He worked for Douglas aircraft for two in a half years when they couldn’t meet the payroll and Mr. Douglas made the payroll and took over the company.

When Bookman and his wife moved to Florida they stayed with his in-laws until they got started in working and getting some paychecks in hand. Then they rented an apartment when he started working for McDonnell Douglas. He met a friend named Sidney Bilbo who was a real Okie, and he said the space program was not for him. So he sold his house to me furnished for Four Hundred dollars now that was a bargain. He moved back to Oklahoma.

Bookman and his wife have a son who wasn’ t into a lot of sports he loved swimming, he got started by his neighbors with their son in the pool. Then he and his wife bought a home in Satellite Beach off North Patrick Shores ,put in a pool furnished the home and then his boss tells him he has to move to Vandenberg, Ca. He didn’t really want to go his son was halfway through school and he said he’ll go next y ear, but to his surprise his boss went to his house and they had to go to CA. They took a beaten out in California because his house in Florida cost him $126.00 a month and in California cost him $550.00 a month. His wife didn’t get a job in California so it was all on him. He lasted in California for seven (7) months when he got a call from his old boss to tell him to come back to Florida.

During the Apollo 1 disaster I was working a second shift at the VAB building when they heard and were pretty sure that the astronauts were killed. There was mass confusion and disbelief. The Challenger was the most devastating of all. I was standing in front of Hanger M and I watched the Challenger go up and all of a sudden there was a terrible explosion, It was only a few seconds into the launch and blew over the pad. It was a terrible thing to happen.

Working at the space center was like watching the NASCAR race to watch the wrecks, or you’re just transfixed at watching these manned launches, that something could go wrong. There is manned and unmanned launch. My biggest regret is that I didn’t go to school earlier, because I think I could have done a lot better for myself. My job was very rewarding for me and my family as far homes, cars and living better. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I was talking to one of my co-workers out there and we took inventory of only three from class of 65 and 66 left, that I work with. So most of them are gone.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"I Will Write My Story"

By Gerald Lewis Pless

I will write my story. As I slowly turn the pages, I will write with compassion, beautiful experiences, and achievements. This is my story. It is mine to write.

I will write my story the way I choose to write it. With regret, I find there are those who no longer will journey down the path with me. I am deeply grateful for the wonderful experiences with them. But now I must look down that road to future dreams, experiences, and achievements. I say goodbye and wish them well. I will write my story.

Even in the darkest hours with shadows about me, I will feel the warmth of thosse I have loved through the years with the sense that I felt as a child on bright, blue Sunday mornings in the country. And smiling through my tears, I will look down that golden pathway tot he future with the knowledge that I can achieve dreams never dreamed and deeds never struck by human hands, limited only by my aspirations and God given talents.

I will write my story. I will seek the beautiful and sacred things in life. I will seek these things for even though they are fleeting, they will never really leave me. The will become my very substance and will dwell deep within my heart, and through the years will become like shinning stars that in the very depths of despair will give me comfort and peace.

Someday when the long day has ended, I will have written my story, and turning finding that my footsteps have faded into the dust, I will ask God to let me touch the hands of those I love, and everything will be all right. For I will have written my story the way I chose to write it. No one can take it from me. No one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oral History Robert Adcock

On November 2, 2001 Robert L. Adcock was interviewed by Dr. Lori Walters and this is an account of Adcock’s experience as a NASA worker on the Vanguard Project. He became involved in space when he was with Glen L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1959 he became involve d in the Vanguard Program as a ground electrical engineer working for Warren Opitz. They designed the electrical system for Vanguard and then in the fall of 1956 along with launch crew plus the installation crew, he moved to Florida. They installed the equipment on Pad 18A for the Vanguard launch. Bob became the electrical rep here on the Vanguard Program for both the ground and airborne electrical systems.

Bob was present for all the Vanguard launchings including the fatal December 1958 launch. The Russians had launched Sputnik prior to our launch of the Vanguard and it was a success. He shared his feelings about the fatal launch in this interview. He said that everyone felt the pressure of that launch. The President announced that the Vanguard would be carrying a “live Satellite”, something the Russians had not done. They worked frantically to get ready for that launch. Originally the launch had been designed without arrangements for a satellite. But from a launch point of view, he said, it did not matter whether they had a satellite are not. The vehicle had not been totally perfected. However, the pressure on the entire crew was quiet evident. Modifications were made to accommodate the satellite and they went ahead with those preparations.

Shortly before the launch in January 1958, Bob met Von Braun, German missile expert, and he was given a tour of the missile farm. His comment was that it was “quite sophisticated”. The fatal day came and they counted down and attempted to launch and the first stage engine had a problem.” It kind of fell into the flame bucket,” said Bob. He was in the blockhouse that day.

They had all kinds of visitors in the blockhouse that day, and they were worried about fire getting back into the blockhouse. They were also worried about further explosions, there were not any. About thirty plus minutes after the explosion, they sent out safety men and firemen to assess the wreckage on the pad. The thinking at the time was if there were any vessels that had trapped gases in them that might tend to explode, then they would vent those vessels.

The way they would vent them was with a 30 0ught 6 rifle. So they began to shot various things, they shot the helium tank and they never could get a hole in it. On stage one there was a big sphere and well built to withstand 4000 PSI. So it was strong and they went on and shot other tanks to vent it. And when they got to the satellite they did not know what it was so they shot it too. It was a grapefruit type satellite; it was laying on the ground beeping, so shot it. And it continued to beep. He said that they were really discouraged about that entirely.

The next day was kind of bad because they had to come in not feeling very well and start cleaning up all the wreckage out on the pad. Because this was a propulsion problem and not electric Bob and his crew were off the hook.

ΓΌ Following the Vanguard Program, Bob went to Vandenberg Air Force Base where the Titan I was being put in an intercontinental ballistic missile Bob and his crew developed the ground system for the Titan launch. He stayed at Vandenberg for two years. In 1961 he went to work on the Gemini Program in Baltimore.