Thursday, April 14, 2005

"Houston, we have a problem."

Apollo 13, of course.


Many (most?) of you have seen the movie. I have, too, but I also remember when it happened because I saw it live and I don't mean just on the television.

Thirty-five years ago last night we in my parents' house were glued to the radio and/or the television after the first reports began to come through that there had been a problem of some sort with Apollo 13. Mom was washing the dinner dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, but all out of order.

Normally she'd do the dinner dishes, then get Dad's lunch ready for the next day while brewing a pot of coffee so it would be ready when she filled his thermos the next morning. Instead, she was fixing his lunch and brewing coffee before with the dinner dishes stacked, yet to be washed.

Looking back, I know now that Mom and Dad knew the phone was going to ring. When it did, Dad took his filled thermos and the lunch box Mom had packed and headed to work.

I didn't see much of Dad as each day slowly dragging into the next. No one knew what had happened or what would. Although it had happened several years before, the memory of the Apollo 1 fire was still too fresh . . . at least for those living in my family's home.

You see, Dad worked for Grumman on the LEM. Each and every one of them from the first prototype to the last one built — scheduled for the later-canceled Apollo 18 — that now sits on the floor of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum.


Air and Space Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Dad wasn't any fancy scientist or engineer. He was one of the thousands of Grumman "grunts" — "Grumminites" — who all played a part in what is now, by most, forgotten.

While enjoyable Apollo 13, the movie, is less than 2 hours long and it’s not particularly accurate. This article is much more complete.

2 Comments:

Blogger Deborah said...

I remember when this happened too, although I didn't have the personal experience that you and your family did. Everyone I knew was glued to the TV waiting for the latest word, hoping for the best, dreading the worst. Thirty-five years. How time flies.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Very cool!!!

9:57 PM  

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