You're stepping in the Space Center's Way Back Machine to see the Space Center shortly after its opening in November 1990. The photographs are courtesy of Connor Paulson. He found them somewhere online. I'm thinking www.prehistoricschools.org. I'll do my best to describe what you're seeing. I'm sure you'll marvel at how far we've come over the last twenty years.
In 1990 the Space Center consisted of the Voyager simulator and the Briefing Room (where the Odyssey and Phoenix are today). In the photograph above you see Mr. Bill Schuler teaching a lesson on Space History. Bill is wearing a Star Trek uniform. During our early camps, Bill played Admiral Schuler. Every Overnight Camp started with Adm. Schuler's inspection of the Voyager. He'd walk up the spiral stairway to inspect the crew and the cleanliness of the ship. The crew would be smartly at attention. The Admiral scrutinized the carpet, looking for the slightest molecule of dust or grime. If found, he'd go into a rant.
"Captain. Look at this!" he'd say while pointing to a spec of something or another on the carpet. Of course the captain had to strain to see what the Admiral was talking about - which made it even funnier for those of us in the Control Room watching on the camera. "Captain, I could have tripped over that. Did you want me to trip over that pile of trash?"
Bill's exaggeration of the size of the spec of dust always caused one of the campers to chuckle. Oh, foolish child, that is exactly what the Admiral wanted. Bill worked the crew until someone laughed of snorted or made any sound he could latch onto like a bird on a power line.
The Admiral's unique homing device drew him straight to the disrespectful camper. The Admiral stood toe to toe with the the camper - bent at the waist so his nose was inches from the campers.
"Did I say something amusing cadet?" he'd sneer. Bill exaggerated the movements of his mouth so droplet's of spittle would land on the camper's face.
"Captain, this ship is a disgrace to the fleet. You're not certified to take it out of Space Dock. Get it cleaned up and get your crew in order. I'll return shortly." The Admiral walked off the bridge and down the spiral stairs. The campers always broke into laughter when they were sure he was out of earshot. That was my cue to enter the bridge and help them with the detailed cleaning. We'd also discuss the importance of staying in character - even during a grueling interrogation from the Admiral.
The Admiral would once again make his appearance and do his best to get someone out of character. This continued until the crew made it through without cracking. It took several tries, which ate up a lot of time, but well worth it. Besides, in those days overnight camps started at 5:00 P.M. and ended at 11:00 A.M. They included a pizza supper believe it or not. We had extra time to kill. In those days the missions ended for bed at midnight instead of 11:00 P.M. as they do now. They also cost $25.oo per person. Times have changed.......
In those days we only had the Voyager so half the overnight crew would be in the ship doing the mission while the other half attending classes. They'd rotate every hour or so.
Notice the big screen TV. Notice the bunks behind the TV? The Phoenix sits there today. Those bunks were reserved for the staff.
Notice the Staff Bulletin Board. Notice there about 15 places for pictures? That was the size of our staff in those days. All of them were volunteers. The most senior volunteers received a $5.00 gift card for working an overnight camp. It's because of this early volunteer staff the Center was able to save enough money to build and outfit the Odyssey (along with a $25,000 donation from US West).
I'm inviting our old timers to comment on this post and add their perspectives.
I've got a few more pictures of the old Center I'll post over the next several days.