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Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Collection of Memories. Happy Thanksgiving and Mrs. Houston's Photographs

Hello Troops,
Happy Thanksgiving to our Space Center staff, volunteers and fans!

Today I'm thankful for family and friends.  I'm thankful for the twenty-two years I spent with outstanding dedicated staff and volunteers in a happy place we call 'The Space Center'.  I'm thankful for the 310,000 people who came through our doors on voyages of imagination.  I'm grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support this program has received over the past several weeks.  Your support has played, and will continue to play, an important role as we consider the Space Center's future.  There are many decisions to be made.  How much of the old will stay as we envision the new?  What direction do we take as we chart a course into unknown territory?  I'll rely on your input as we forge ahead.  The school district's Space Center committee meets in full on November 28.

The Williamson's will be converging on my sister's home in Pleasant Grove.  Family has come from near and far for the event.

You never know what you'll get at a Williamson holiday gathering.  In the best of times,  the event could pass peacefully with little to report other than Great Grandma Luella managing to keep a portion of her meal on her plate and off her blouse and the children survive with little or no blood loss.

In the worst of times, there could be fireworks if family members aren't strategically positioned around the Thanksgiving table.  I'm hoping my sister remembers to seat our family's few remaining independents between the rabid Republics and the Peace, Land and Bread Democrats.  Great Grandma Luella has already been chastised by my sister Lisa for attempting to covert my twelve year old niece to socialism.  Great Grandma has been brushing up for this holiday reunion by watching hundreds of hours of PBS and CSPAN.

We sometimes have a problem with religion.  Not only must my sister separate family members with strong political views, she must also take into consideration the family's diverse religious beliefs as she sets out the name places around the table.  Those who favor reincarnation are generally tolerated by the liberals.  They will be sat at the end of the table.  Our Mormon majority are too numerous to separate so they must be sub categorized by conviction.  Forgiving, back of the chapel Mormons, are good to mix with the minority agnostics.  Front row, hymn singing Mormons are good to sit near the old people's section at the front of the table.  It makes it easy for calling on someone to offer the Thanksgiving blessing on the food.

One of my jobs at all holiday reunions is to monitor the gathering and inject myself into any conversation or situation that appears to be approaching the boiling point.  My 30 years in the classroom uniquely qualifies me for the task.  I know the family very well, having been a part of it  for 54 years, and can generally detect the raising of voices quickly enough to bolt across the room, squeeze inbetween the combatants and turn a phrase fast enough to cool the waters and redirect the conversation's flow.  I've been brushing up on anecdotes and feel confident I can keep things civil and peaceful until everyone goes home to debate whether or not they'll ever go to another gathering again.
 I have the nuclear option if my efforts to keep the peace fail.  I walk over to Great Grandpa Charlie, pull him away from the poor soul he's trapped in a conversation for 30 minutes, and tell him that So and So had a question on the how to prepare for the fast approaching apocalypse.

"You've come to the right person," he'll say as he hobbles across the crowded room to find his new prey.

Great Grandpa Charlie believes the world will end by the end of the year.  He has believed the world will end at the end of every year since 1968, which is why he purchased six acres of farmland in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

"We won't starve if I keep the land," he answers proudly whenever asked why he doesn't sell the land and pocket the profit.  His survival plans unravel when we press him for details on how we are suppose to get to South Dakota if things suddenly head south and starving mobs ravage neighborhoods.  

Anyway.......  I'm hoping you and yours have a very enjoyable day.   

And now, a few pictures from Mrs. Houston's Space Center photo album.

Mrs. Houston teaching the field trip class in 1995.  
The Odyssey's entrance is at the back of the room.  We didn't have the Discovery Room or the Phoenix Simulator back then.  The class session was held in Mr. Williamson's office.  Teaching was difficult because of the simulator noises coming from the Odyssey and Voyager.  Notice the old 1956 light fixtures in the ceiling.  Once we had a boy tell us how cool and futuristic they were.  I suppose anything could be futuristic if you've never seen it before. 

 Summer Camp 2001
The campers are on the playground mapping the distances of the planets from the sun and each other.

Launching rockets with Mrs. Remy during summer camp.  2001

The Falcon Team from the summer of 2001.
The Falcon is gone, replaced by the Phoenix.  The Falcon sat inside 
one of the Starlab bubbles.  It was run by Mr. Schuler, Mrs. Houston, Stacy Carrel, 
and Joshua Babb.  It was a real hassle.  The Falcon had to be assembled every Friday afternoon as soon as school let out, then taken apart and put away after every overnight camp. 

Mr. Daymont with another crew of the Falcon.  The campers were from Astrocamp, our sister center in Ogden.  Summer 2001 

Summer Camp 2001
Mr. Daymont with our campers at Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City

Two volunteers dressed in our new Greenpeace costumes designed and sewn by Mrs. Houston

Two volunteers in newly sewn alien costumes.

Mrs. Clegg, the Space Center's curriculum specialist in the Discovery Room setting up
for a field trip lesson.

Randy Jepperson catching a few zzzz's in the newly opened Discovery Room.

I'm striking a happy pose outside the newly installed Odyssey dark room door.
 Some have their security blanket.  I have my Diet Coke.  I can't go anywhere without one.


Here I am on the Voyager Bridge waxing poetic before the start of a field trip mission.

Here I am again teaching my pre-algebra class in 1999.
My assignment was to direct the Space Center when the Center first opened in 1990.  
I volunteered to teach the math class to help the school's sixth grade.  I'm still teaching the class every morning from 9:00 to 10:30 A.M.
I taught the class in my office before the Phoenix was built.  The class moved to the Discovery Room after the Phoenix opened.

One of the Space Center's Honor's Nights.
I'm presenting the Silver Chalice of Zod to Kirby Glad, a great Space Center supporter.
The Silver Chalice of Zod was named after the Chalice Dr. Marcus brags about in every Supernova Mission on the Voyager or Phoenix.

 Another Honor's Night in the Magellan
Pillowcases are being awarded to volunteers who reached the 500 hour volunteer level.
This was taken shortly after the Magellan opened.  This was before we had the Discovery Room.  The door behind me led directly to the Control Room.  Notice the old computers and the very old main view screen.

A later Honor's Night in the Discovery Room.  Pillowcases are being awarded.
The volunteers came up with this strange tradition of covering their heads for the picture. 
Fun for them, impossible to tell who they are for posterity.

 A photograph of me and a few very old staff from our 15th anniversary celebration in 2005
Russell Smith, Tony Grover, Jake Mattson, Kyle Sanderson and Clint Sanderson.

Two Space Center legends, David Merrill and Tony Grover
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