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Deke Slayton
Spaceweek 93
Outpost Tavern
Don Williams
Apollo 8 25th

The Outpost Tavern

 The Outpost To The New Frontier
Photo Credit:s Mine
The Outpost Tavern
The front of the Outpost Tavern near the Johnson Space Center
The Outpost Tavern near the Johnson space center has long been a watering hole frequented by astronauts.  I wrote up this description of the Outpost in 1993.  It was my attempt to convey some of the tavern’s atmosphere to a friend of mine.

Whenever I am down in the area around the Johnson Space Center, I usually make it a point to stop in for a brew. The place kind of reminds me of Pancho Barnes “Happy Bottom Flying Club” that was portrayed in the movie “The Right Stuff.”

I had first heard about the Outpost Tavern on a television documentary that was broadcast prior to the return to flight by Discovery on STS-26.  It looked like it had seen an amazing amount of history.

I've been to the Outpost three times this year alone.  If I keep this up, they'll start recognizing me as a regular.  This description is kind of a 360 degree panorama of the place.

The Outpost is a decrepit old building that is strategically located near the Johnson Space Center.  It is known to be a rendezvous spot for astronauts after a hard day of training at JSC.

The outside of this building looks quite rustic to put it mildly. The building itself is made out of wood, However, the shape and color of it resembles a twisted hulk of iron that had long since been abandoned to rust away.

The main entrance to the saloon is a windowless steel door.  The doors presence defies even the brave to enter. Upon breeching the steel door, you are greeted by a pair of swinging saloon doors.  The swinging doors are quite unique in their own right.  They are cut out in the shape of women wearing bikinis. These doors are upholstered with red vinyl in a three dimensional fashion. 

Immediately to the right of the entrance there is a collection of photos of native Texans.  These native Texans are the select few who have joined the crusaders of the sky, the astronauts.

A pair of pool tables lies just beyond the swinging doors.  A representative suit of armor of the sky crusaders is seen overhead. It is an aged Gemini space suit hanging from the ceiling.

The suit shows the results of prolonged exposure to a hazardous environment.  The hazardous environment that did the damage was not the stark vacuum of outer space.  Instead it was the toxic and smoky atmosphere inside the Outpost.  The suit at one time was adorned with a red ribbon tied to its zipper.  This strategically located ribbon is no longer present. 

A shuffleboard table lines the long wall of this den. A sign on the shuffleboard table proclaims, “No one under 18 inches, this means you Hubert!”

The 'L' shaped bar serves as the focal point of activity.  Perhaps it is more like an altar.  This is where the sacrificial offerings of beer are imbibed before battling the demon in the sky.  Behind the bar is a simple grill.  If you have entered the temple with more than thirst sustenance will be provided.  Well lubricated hamburgers and fries will hold off the pangs of hunger. 

The vent hood above the grill is adorned with decals of the coats of arms from the great space crusades.  Not only can you see the mission patch from STS-1, but also from STS-51.  In 1993 STS-51 was a crusade that is yet to happen.  More impressive than the number of decals is the adhesive the holds the decals on the grease covered vent hood.

The sands of time have shaped the walls of the building.  Straight lines have long since vanished.  Posters and bumper stickers adorn the ceiling. One of the bumper stickers proclaims, "If it smells like fish, eat it." Perhaps the stickers serve more of a purpose to hold out the rain than they do as a decoration.  A cigar store wooden Indian maintains his silent vigil in the corner.

Next to the Indian is a life size cardboard cutout of the purveyors of Bartyls and James wine coolers.  Ed's face has been replaced with a photocopy enlargement of the face of the former chief crusader.  That was Chief of the Astronaut Office, Dan Brandenstein.

Many photos crowd the walls of this darkened temple.  The photos are quite a contrast with the decrepit structure. They are the photos of crusaders or pioneers.  They not pioneers of the old west but of pioneers of the space age.

Many of the photos are autographed and inscribed with best wishes to the watering hole.  A few of the photos are inscribed by crusaders that moved on to realms that are higher and faster.  One entire wall is adorned with photos from 51-L in a silent tribute.

A solitary window links the Outpost with the outside world.  Adorning the window, hangs a stained glass icon of the crew emblem for STS-26. It’s positioning is almost an act of reverence.  The flight of STS-26, was the first flight after the "Challenger went down".  That flight represented a rebirth not only for the Outpost but for the entire area around the Johnson Space Center.  The prolonged period of morning was over.

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UPDATED : February 20, 2007
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