What follows under my little story is a portion of an article that was in the Florida Today Newspaper this a.m. about the scrubbed shuttle launch yesterday. Peter Kerasotis is a columnist who usually writes about sports but is a native of the Space Coast (where I live) and was asked to weigh in on the community mood surrounding launch day - on what was to be the next to the last launch of the space shuttles. My story sets the mood of how it "used to be".
My husband Tom and I were having dinner with his cousin and her husband the other night and the conversation somehow (after the wine-glo) got off on the good ole' space days. They all lived on Cocoa Beach when the space program was kicking in to high gear and everything was in high "party" mode. They had apartments right on the beach which served as continuous play houses from what I could glean from the conversation. One crazy guy had a rather large rattle snake tied up outside his beach-shack to keep uninvited partiers at bay. It seems this guy had a penchant for getting drunk and driving cars into the river. (Just an aside I thought kind of interesting.) I heard even celebrities would often show up at these parties and the restaurants and bars were constantly overflowing with patrons with money-stuffed pockets. The favorite hang-out was the Vanguard and just about everybody that was anybody went there. My husband at the time worked in the DAB building at the Cape which is that gigantic monster of a building where the Shuttle is worked on. How he ever climbed up to the towers of that building with a hangover is beyond me. But anyway you get the picture...times were happy, the economy was popping, houses couldn't get built fast enough, business were springing up left and right.... and, no one thought this would ever go away. But, on to reality and a portion of the article that touched me enough to want to put it here....
(An excerpt from Florida Today Newspaper 4/30/2011 Peter Kerasotis article)
PRIDE LINGERS LONG AFTER SHUTTLE'S CONTRAIL CLEARS
A nation cast its eyes in our direction Friday, and then moved on, its collective attention span concerning space flight usually lasting about as long as it takes a shuttle to clear the launch pad and then rocket out of sight.
We've come to expect this passing, drive-by interest with the space program -- our space program.
Sure, it was nice that people paused Friday. Perhaps they stuck around long enough to hear NASA scrubbed Endeavor's launch, rescheduling no earlier than Monday. Perhaps they even knew it was to be the next-to-last shuttle launch.
But let's not kid ourselves, because what really grabbed people's attention is that President Barack Obama was here with his family; as was Gabrielle Giffords, the U.S. Congresswoman who was shot in the head by a crazed gunman Jan. 8. For the first time since the shooting, Giffords emerged from private rehab. Her astronaut husband is part of the Endeavor crew. It's a touching, even inspiring, story.
It takes something extraordinary for space flight to capture the nation's attention. When there's a disaster like Apollo 1, Columbia or Challenger, or drama like Apollo 13, or a novelty like John Glenn returning to space, a puddle of interest accumulates before quickly evaporating.
We know differently.
We know that extraordinary happens at every shuttle launch -- indeed, every day at Kennedy Space Center.
And it is a source of pride.
It's why we're the Space Coast. It's why our area code is 321, the final numbers uttered before liftoff. It's why we have schools named Astronaut, Satellite, Gemini and Challenger 7. It's why we have a housing development with streets named Mercury, Polaris, Venus, Saturn, and the one I grew up on -- Mars Street.
I've heard people say space exploration is our lifeblood. But it's more than that. It's our heart.
Yes, it's going to be sad to see it all come to an end. For most it will just be a blip in the screen for others it will be life altering.
entire article available at www.floridatoday.com