So when the kids were here we gave them the choice one day go to the Shiloh battlefield or to Huntsville Space Center. Well they chose the space center. Aaron had been there when he was in elementary. Sara had never been there. So to Huntsville we went.
There are times I am sad that my son never the knew the excitement the first manned space program brought. By the time he came around it was old hat. There shuttle launches in Florida he didn’t go out to watch from our apartment complex. He and his friend resented we made them get out of the ocean and stand on the beach to watch the final shuttle launch. Though recently he thanked me for doing that, for the fact he can say he was there on Coco Beach watching the last shuttle launch. I just said, “Never forget to add ‘because my parents made me’ to those tellings.”
My first memories of Huntsville are going with my parents. My dad, who typically shies away from rides, actually rode the centrifugal force ride. I also remember enjoying watching Miss Baker enjoy a banana and the plans for a future thing called the Space Shuttle.
Then about 1992 we took Aaron. He got to participate in a show about life aboard the Space Station. Also there was a small picture and article about the Russian copy of the Space Shuttle (of which we now know more about how that happened) which I didn’t find this trip. Oh and he would even talk about going to Space Camp or eat in the cafeteria when the Space Campers were there. I asked him about it on this trip… he doesn’t remember why. Good to report they didn’t intimidate him this time.
So this trip was at least the third for me. They are completely redone their interior exhibits. The new ones are great and have several experiential ones there. Even the camper the astronauts waited out their decontamination time was there restored after being found again. Seems NASA lost it for a few decades.
However the static exhibits outside were shameful in their state of disrepair. It was a junkyard of space objects. Even the cool last time blackbird jet is rusting. The signs were unreadable. The retired Space Shuttle needed some care. The rides were being worked on but looked the worse for wear. It was a sad state and I’m sure it’s a funding issue.
Back inside the Space Campers now have their own cafeteria. It looks as if the program has expanded some and is going strong. Which is
good. Maybe some day we can get back to the excitement I remember when I was in first grade and Mrs. Lyle dropped the black out shades from the A-Bomb scare days roll in the black and white tv and we’d watch astronauts being excitedly covered by Breaking News. I miss that excitement of space exploration – just think they did it without smart phone or post-it notes.
It was an interesting fun day. We paused at the marker for Mrs. Baker’s grave but didn’t bring a banana. No joke her marker had banana offerings on it, real and plastic. So I’m not the only one who remembers that happy face with closed eyes as she munched away.