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The Events

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

Spaceweek National Banquet

 "Paging Dan Goldin"
Photo Credit:s Mine
Program Cover for Spaceweek 93 National Gala
Program for Spaceweek 93 National Gala
1993 Spaceweek National Gala Program Cover
 Spaceweek 1993 National Gala Program
On July 16th, 1993 a gala was held at Space Center Houston to commemorate Spaceweek.  My wife Mary and I attended this event.  Also there were our friends Mark Shelton and Chris Seaman.

This same week Astronaut Guion Bluford was retiring from NASA.  Mark arranged with Colonel Bluford so that we could meet with him in his office in Building 4S at JSC.  We drove down to NASA to meet with Bluford on Friday afternoon.

We arrived at the JSC security office and got checked in.  We received temporary badges that would grant us access to building 4S.  The Astronaut Office is located on the fifth floor of that building.  Mark, Mary, and I took the elevator up to that floor.

We located Colonel Bluford’s office and introduced ourselves.  He was seated at behind his gray metal desk.  Bluford was wearing his blue coveralls.  Shortly after we met with him he was headed over to Ellington Field to take his last flight in a T-38. 

It was a relaxed day for Bluford and we had a nice talk.  One of the things that I had him sign was a flown cover from STS-8.  We also asked him to sign a couple of books.

Also in the same office with Bluford was a relatively new astronaut John Grunsfeld.  We introduced ourselves to Grunsfeld.  He is a physicist by trade and we talked a little bit about astrophysics.  Grunsfeld signed a couple of books for us.  He was a new guy and it’s always fun to meet newly selected astronauts.

While we were in the Astronaut Office, we dropped off a care package for Linda Godwin.  We left her a bottle of wine, a wine glass, and a compact disk of Jean Michel Jarre’s Rendezvous album. 

The album is a song dedicated to Challenger Astronaut Ron McNair.  Ron had planned to play a musical selection on his saxophone in space. We had told Linda about this music track when we sponsored her for a school visit earlier in the year.  

The bottle of wine also had significance from her visit. It was from the same Cuvaison Winery that we had tried at our dinner with Linda.  On Memorial Day weekend Mary and I were in Napa valley and we visited the winery.  The wine glass was from the Cuvaison Winery.  We thought the music and wine might be a good way to relax at home after a stressful day of being an astronaut.

Another Astronaut that Mark arranged a meeting for us with was Michael Coats.  He no longer worked at NASA but was now employed at Loral. His office was located close to the Johnson Space Center.  We had a great meeting with him and acquired a few autographs.

On Saturday at Space Center Houston, the STS-57 crew gave a post flight presentation.  The astronauts who attended and spoke were Ron Grabe, Brian Duffy, Nancy Sherlock, Janice Voss, and Jeff Wissoff.  They covered the highlights of their STS-57 mission.  After their presentation they were whisked away by NASA security.  There was no opportunity to meet them.

Before the Gala, Mark, Mary, and I met another friend Chris Seaman over at the Outpost Tavern.  Chris had just driven in and we had a few drinks.  The Outpost Tavern is ingrained in the history of the space program.  For a description of this watering hole follow the Outpost Tavern link.

<>At the Tavern we met Flight Director Milt Heflin.  Milt was an acquaintance of Mark’s and we had been introduced to him before. Milt was selected to be the lead flight director for the STS-61 Hubble Telescope repair flight.  He was at the Outpost with one of his team members from the flight.

We had a great talk with them about the upcoming STS-61 mission.  Not long before that Astronaut Story Musgrave had suffered frostbite on his hands during an EVA training session.  We learned from Milt that they had plans in place to work around the issue.  He also told us that Musgrave’s frostbite wasn’t too bad.

At the Spaceweek 93 Gala we saw astronauts Joe Kerwin, Paul Weitz, Karol Bobko, Bob Overmeyer, John Young, and Dan Brandenstein.  There was not an opportunity to talk with most of them.  Also attending the Gala was the head of NASA, Dan Goldin.  Actor Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek: Next Generation” fame was there.

The gala was a little anticlimactic after having met Bluford, Grunsfeld, and Coast in their offices.  There just did not seem to be many opportunities to meet astronauts at the Gala.

Mark talked to one of the woman that he knew through the Spaceweek organization.  She told him that there were cosmonauts at the Gala, but that they wanted to go to a country western bar.  She said that NASA Administrator Dan Goldin personally escorted the cosmonauts to the bar.  She told Mark which bar she thought it was that they went to.

We had exhausted our signing opportunities at the gala, so we decided to try and catch up with Goldin and the cosmonauts.  All of us, Mark, Chris, Mary, and me got in our cars and drove over to the country western bar.

We parked and headed in to the honky tonk.  Our attire was not country western.  Our sport coasts were in stark contrast with the western shirts, blue jeans, and Stetsons.  Undaunted we paid the cover charge and were admitted.

If you have ever been to a place where you were not wanted, that is the feeling that we got in the bar.  The patrons regarded our sport coats with stark skepticism.  In fact, an employee of the bar followed us around as we searched for Goldin and the cosmonauts.  I sure the employee was afraid that someone was going to pick a fight with us.  Looking back upon, it, I should have been afraid too.

After circling around the lower floor, we found that Goldin and the cosmonauts were no where to be seen.  We went upstairs to see if the Goldin party was up there.  There was another bar up there and a disk jockey but no sign of Goldin.  The honky tonk employee recommended that we page the party that we were looking for and have them come to the upstairs bar.

So Mark told the disk jockey who we were looking for.  Over the loud speakers above the country western music, we heard, “Paging Dan Goldin.  Dan Goldin come to the upstairs bar.”

So there we were.  We paged the chief administrator of NASA in a country western bar.  Goldin never did show up and after a few minutes we embraced a hasty retreat.  We all had a good laugh about paging Goldin in the bar.  The bigger joke was probably that none of us had gotten beaten up.

We said good bye to Chris, and Mark.  Chris had his own vehicle and told me that he was headed back home.  I didn’t think too much of his departure at that time.  I wished him a safe trip.

The next day after Mary and I got home we got a call from Chris’s wife Sandra.  She asked me if I knew where Chris was.  I was stunned.  I told Sandra that the last time I had seen Chris; he was getting into his Isuzu Trooper and said that he was driving home. 

Sandra was panicked and seemed angry with me. She was sure that something sinister had befallen Chris.  I didn’t know what else I could tell her, other than where I had last seen him and what he had said.

A couple of days later, I got a call from Chris.  After he left the parking lot he changed his mind about going home.  Instead he drove to Galveston and spent the night on the beach.

Mary and I were furious with Chris.  We couldn’t believe that would put his family and us through that.  We thought he was dead. In 1992 Chris received an autograph from singer Robert Goulet.  Goulet inscribed the card, “Chris what are you doing?”  After Chris’s mysterious disappearance, I had to ask the same question.


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UPDATED : February 20, 2007
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