| A 25th anniversary gala
8 was held at Space Center Houston on December 18, 1993.
My wife Mary and I attended this Apollo 8 Silver
Anniversary Gala. Also in attendance were
Shelton, and Andy Sheppard. This is my
recollection from that event.
I was really looking forward to this event
because the entire Apollo 8 crew was supposed to be in attendance. That would include the elusive Bill
Anders. Of all of the Apollo era
astronauts, I think Bill Anders was one of the toughest to get to meet
receive and autograph from.
There just were not many opportunities to see
him. It was rare for Anders to attend a public event.
I hoped my luck would change at the 25th
The recommended attire for this event was
Christmas wear. I wore a blue sport coat
and blue slacks. Mary was decked out in her Christmas holiday
best. She had on a nice black skirt accented with Christmas
holly, a sharp white shirt also accented with holly and a black
We got to the gala and sure enough the Apollo
8 astronauts were all there. That
included Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders.
Before we got close to any of them, it became
apparent that things were not going to go well.
NASA had assigned public relations escorts
for the crewmen. These PR women would not allow anyone to ask any of
8 crew for an autograph. I think Mark
may have gotten an autograph from Lovell and Borman, but that was
escort security blanket was fully deployed.
really disappointed. I
should have introduced myself to Anders,
just to be able to shake his hand. I
really didn't know what to say to him. With my deflated mood didn't
easy for me to think.
The program was opened by former flight director Gerry Griffin.
Following Griffin's remarks came Luci Baines Johnson. She was a
nice person but her segment seemed to drag on a little too long.
Following Johnson were remarks by Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank
Borman. Gerry Griffin gave the program closing.
There were other astronauts there and those
astronauts were easy to approach. They
did not have the PR escorts and they were fairly relaxed.
Some of the astronauts that we talked with
and got autographs from included: Alan Bean, Bonnie Dunbar, Ron Sega,
Shaw, Janice Voss-Ford and Don Williams. Apparently
Janice Voss had gotten married since the
last time that we
saw her because her signature that night had a hyphenated last name.
Mary and I had a really nice talk with Alan
Bean. We were able to talk to Bean about
his art. That was conversation was
really nice. It was worth the trip just
I also spoke with Don Williams, the
who was my golf partner from October at the Space Week Golf Tournament.
I had a group photo of our golf group that I
needed to give to Don. He left the
tournament before the photos were handed out.
I gave Don his photo and asked him if he would mind autographing my
Don said, “Well, Ill autograph yours, if you
autograph mine.” Now I felt really
embarrassed. Don had turned the tables on
me. No one had ever asked for my autograph
before. I took his photo and signed it
underneath my image. My autograph was
pretty poor. I wasn't used to signing
something while standing up. Don signed
my photo and did a much better job with the autograph.
I also saw Max Faget at the Gala. Faget
was the primary force behind the shape
of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space capsules as well as of the
space shuttle. I had a book of his that he
had written and I
asked him to sign it. He graciously
autographed my book.
Lockhart of “Lost in Space” fame was at
the gala. Mary got Lockhart to autograph her Apollo 8 Silver
Anniversary program. Mary said that Lockhart was a wonderful
person to talk with.
Mark and I had a nice
conversation with Jeffrey Lovell. He is one of Jim Lovell's
sons. He was interesting to talk with and seemed really down to
Earth. He did not seem to be affected by the celebrity status of
There were a few other astronauts there that
I did not get a chance to speak to. Those
astronauts included: Dan Brandenstein, Gene
Cernan, Ken Reightler,
Harrison Schmitt, and John Young.
Young also was not signing anything, but I
heard him tell one person that if they mailed the item to him at NASA
sign it. That wasn't quite true. Later, I mailed an Apollo
16 crew photo to
Young and mentioned the Apollo 8 Gala.
He returned my crew photo unsigned, but he did send me an autographed
current astronaut portrait.