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2002 Houston Autograph Show

"We had a TV camera but some dumbass broke it!"



Flyer for the 2002 Houston Autograph Show
Alan Bean carrying ALSEP on Apollo 12
Flyer for the 2002 Houston Autograph Show
Richard Gordon's comment about the TV camera
On January 26th, 2002 Nolan Sims and Steve Hankow sponsored another autograph show in Houston, Texas.  Astronauts that were scheduled to appear at the autograph show included Alan Bean, Jerry Carr, Ed Gibson, Richard Gordon, Edgar Mitchell, and Bill Pogue.  There were also some actors and actresses slated to appear at the show.  Included in them were Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker of the movie “Star Wars”.
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This venue for this show was at the Sheraton North Houston Hotel over by Houston Intercontinental Airport.  My wife Mary and I attended the show.  This is my recollection of the event.

Mary and I got up early on Saturday to drive down to Houston.   We found the hotel with out to much difficulty and got checked into our room.  After I organized the list of things that I wanted to get signed by the astronauts we headed down to the show.

Some of the photos that I wanted to get signed were lunar panoramas that I had printed out by an internet photo company called Ofoto.com.  The clarity of these photos through Ofoto was truly awesome.

One of the panoramas was assembled from a sequence of photos that Al Shepard had taken.  These were taken during the Apollo 14 EVA when they were searching for Cone crater.  The image was about 30 inches across and 4 inches high.  I got Edgar Mitchell to sign it with a gold paint pen and this signature on that photo looked marvelous.

While I was having it signed, Apollo 12 Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon came over to look at the photo.  He marveled at its clarity.

A little later I had Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean sign a panoramic photo from Apollo 12.  This one was about 30 inches across and 8 inches high.  Bean was really impressed by the image.  We talked about various lunar topics.  Included was a discussion about the lighting on the Moon.  We told me how to identify which astronaut was in the Apollo 12 image.  I also remember that he pointed out where Surveyor was in the photo.

Richard Gordon came over to the table where we were with Bean and said, “We had a TV camera but dumbass broke it!”  We had a great laugh at Bean’s expense.  Gordon and Bean then explained that losing the camera really wasn’t Bean’s fault.

I had the Skylab 3 crew autograph a couple of photos.  Ed Gibson also was excited by the clarity of the photos.  He told me that he gives presentations that include photos from his Skylab missions.  His problem was that he couldn’t find any photos of high enough resolution.  I told him about the NASA GRIN web site and the amazing resolution of the photos there.

We had a good time talking with the Skylab 3 crew.  I did note thought that Bill Pogue was really quiet.  I couldn’t tell if he just wasn’t feeling good, or if he had something else on his mind.

I was able to meet German rocket technician Guenter Wendt.  He had come out with a book and I was able to get him to sign it.

After we got the bulk of the signatures that we wanted to get, Mary and I drove to another part of Houston.  We met a friend of Mary’s that lived in Houston.  Her name was Leigh.  We had a very nice dinner with her at one of the local restaurants.

After dinner Mary and I returned to our hotel.  We stopped in at the bar to see who was there.  Seated at the bar were the actors Stanley and Barry Livingston who played Chip and Ernie off of the television show “My Three Sons”.  It seemed odd to see actors that you watched while growing up to now be sitting at a bar.

Over to the corner of the bar in a booth was Peter Mayhew.  He was the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies.  I must say that Mayhew was a really unique looking individual.  He had long and wild coal black hair.  His appearance resembled a rock star on a bad hair day. 

Mayhew was really tall.  He also had a strange gait to his walk. Actually this is the same way that Chewbacca walks in the movies. I assume his gait may have been due to the rapid growth rate that got him to his excessive height.

Seated at the table were what appeared to be four of five women groupies.  These women were not the prettiest females on the planet.  Next to Mayhew though, they kind of fit right in.  All of them, including Mayhew seemed to take a liking to smoking cigarettes.

A little while later Kenny Baker who played R2D2 on Star Wars and joined Mayhew’s entourage. So after that night, Mary and I could say that we were in a cantina with Chewbacca and R2D2.  What was more amazing was that nobody got their hands cut off with a light saber!

The next day Mary had an idea to ask Richard Gordon to inscribe a photo with what he said about Alan Bean and the camera on Saturday.  That sounded like fun to me.  Mary took a photo of Alan Bean carrying ALSEP on the Moon over to Gordon.  She told him how she wanted the photo inscribed and he blushed.  He was a little reluctant to put the “dumbass” inscription in writing but he did.  I think it is a classic autograph.

On our way back home from the autograph show, we stopped in College Station, Texas.  There we visited the President George H. W. Bush library.  It was located on the campus of Texas A&M University.

I was kind of surprised to see that they had a burial site already prepared for George and Barbara Bush.  In fact the burial site was already the resting place for their young daughter Robin.  Robin had succumbed to leukemia when she was only 7 years old.

Our trip to Houston was very relaxing for Mary and me.  It was one of the best trips that we had been on in a long time.

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UPDATED : February 26, 2007
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