This video brings back wonderful memories. In 1977, Johnny had a several month assignment in Orlando, Florida. Our kids were small. Carmel was five, Nate was a rambunctious toddler. They were just old enough to enjoy Disney and Circus World. I doubt either had a clue about the magic about to happen in front of our eyes that day. They were sleepy — and they wanted to go home for their naps. But Johnny and I were excited.
There were tons of cars in front and behind us and it was looking like we’d never get to the Cape in time for blast off. We had our radio on and when the final count down was being broadcast, we pulled over to the side of the road, gathered our cranky kids up out of their new fangled carseats—and deposited them on the front fenders of our car. Carmel was willing to sit there, but no way would Nate. We ended up tradng him back and forth between us.
The kids weren’t impressed with the traffic or the promised lift off either. Over the radio, we heard the announcer counting backwards from ten…and then we felt a rumble as the rockets fired a couple miles or so away from us. And then we saw the rocket slowly rise over the palm trees and arc across the sky. It was awesome. Johnny and I were beyond the moon at that moment…dancing jigs and laughing louder than either of us had expected. And then, we held each other and our kids and danced beside the road with abandon.
As we drove back to Orlando, the kids drifted off to sleep…but Johnny and I were still reved up. At first we chattered like over-excited school kids. And then we lapsed into our private thoughts. I remember that day, August 20,1977, like it was yesterday. It was the day I finally decided it was time.
We were almost back to our apartment when I said, “I think maybe engineering.”
“What kind?” He never took his eyes off the road.
”The one that pays the most, I guess.”
”It’ll be a hell of a ride.”
”Will you help me with the kids?”
”Might get tricky.”
”We’ll find a way.”
In January, I enrolled at a local junior college to pickup chemistry and physics and calculus pre reqs. In 1980, I started classes in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.