Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apollo 13

Jack was one for having fascinating, true tales to tell from his life. He was one of those guys who seemed to just attract really intersting stuff happening in his life. (Or maybe he was just really good at telling the story!) Here's a true tale from when Jack was 13 years old:

Jack's father, Joe, was an astrophysicist. He was involved in the Apollo space program. It's how he made his living. (Yes, my father-in-law really WAS a rocket scientist!) He convinced (or helped convice) NASA to put crosshairs in the porthole of the spaceship, and Apollo 13 was the first spaceship to have this feature. At least this is what I've been told.

On the evening of the Apollo 13 crisis, Jack and his family were sitting down and having dinner. The phone rang. Joe got up and answered the phone. He didn't say anything on his end. He just hung up and went upstairs and came back down with an already-packed suitcase. All he said was, "There's trouble upstairs." meaning with the astronauts. Shortly thereafter, a car came and picked up Joe. Very little was said to the kids.

The next day, Jack's mother, Blanche, put the kids in the car and took them someplace (I can't remember exactly what it was) where the families of those involved could listen in on the talk going on between mission control in Houston and the astronauts. Jack and his family could hear Joe asking the astronauts what constellation they could see in the crosshairs. They would answer, then Joe would tell them which rocket to fire and for how long. And the process would be repeated until they were able to come safely back to terra firma.

This is one of those "larger than life" things that happened to Jack. It's a true story. While he and his father may have had issues at times, he was always very proud of his father's involvement with the space program, and especially the Apollo 13 crisis.