Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Odyssey's Launch and Ribbon Cutting. Newly Discovery Pictures. A Must Read for All You Odyssey Fans Out There. The Imaginarium.

Dave Wall, Eve Mary Verde, and Steve Wall
Eve Mary officially opens the new Odyssey to the World

     I found a box of old 35mm slides while digging through my closet.  I had a spare hour or so and decided it was time to put on my explorers hat, load my elephant gun, and venture into those parts of the closet where no one has been before; that area of the closet where you toss things you don't need, and can't think you'll need, in the foreseeable future.  
     Thirty minutes into the maze I stumbled upon a box of old 35mm slides.  I put the box into my knapsack, sat down and ate my sack lunch, then continued until I reached what appeared to be the back wall.  Fearful of the sound of distant drums and remembering stories of people who've mysteriously disappeared after entering wardrobes and looking glasses, I made a hasty retreat.
     Back in the safety of the bedroom, I examined the contents of my knapsack: a missing sock, a Primary Article of Faith plastic number which had fallen off my Primary sash (we wore them to primary back in the days of polygamy), and a few other bits and bobs.  Then the prize which made the adventure worth the risk and the trouble - the small white plastic box of slides.  
     "The Odyssey's Launch," I mumbled to myself after taking one of the slides out and holding it up to the window.  After 25 years lost in the jungle of a closet in Pleasant Grove, emerges pictures of a happy day in Space Center history.   
     The Odyssey opened in the fall of 1993, three years after the launch of Starship One, the USS Voyager in November 1990.  Back in the days before the Voyager had to hold all the field trip students.  I needed another ship.  Having a small ship for private missions was another reason for the Odyssey.  The room was there at the back of the Briefing Room. I just needed funding.  I thought $25,000 would do the trick.  
      In the early to mid 1990's I served on the US West (CenturyLink today) Foundation's Outstanding Teacher Selection Committee.  We traveled the state looking at teachers in our yearly search for US West's Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, an award I had won earlier.  Eve Mary Verde was the Foundation's Director.  US West had helped me before so I thought to ask again. I scheduled an appointment to make the pitch for funding, went to Salt Lake, sat down with the companies managers, made my pitch, and got the funding.  The Odyssey was a GO!  
     The next problem, who to build the Odyssey?  Dave and Steve Wall were brothers, raised in Provo, and science fiction extreme fans.  They were also big fans of the Space Center.  They both agreed to take on the project.  A year later, the Odyssey was built. At first the simulator went by two names: ISES and Seeker.  I liked ISES. Dave Wall liked Seeker.  ISES stood for Inner Space Explorer Ship. I wanted to Odyssey to be a multi-platform ship doing both space and inner body adventures.  Dave Wall was the Odyssey's Set Director.  In the end Dave and I compromised on a new name - Odyssey.  All that was left was the official launch and ribbon cutting.    

     In this picture you see Victor Williamson, Eve Mary Verde, and Bill Schuler presenting a space shuttle plaque to US West thanking them for funding the Odyssey.  See what directing a Space Center for 23 years does to you?  Once handsome, thin, with a head of thick hair - now old, wore out, balding, and rounder :)  We're standing at the front of the Briefing Room (the storage room in today's Odyssey).  Notice no Phoenix simulator.  Mr. Schuler is standing where the outer wall of the Phoenix would eventually go.
Bill Schuler is an expert model builder. The plaque was his creation.   

Eve Mary Receiving the Plaque
     Our gift shop (the same counter used today) sat in front of the 45 inch TV at the front of the Briefing Room?  In 1993 we didn't have the Discover Room, the Magellan, or the Galileo.  Today the gift shop sits in the Discovery Room.  Sugar occupies the gift shop's top shelf. Paying volunteers with sugar is a time honored tradition. 

     Stan Harward was the first speaker.  Dr. Harward was my partner in the creation of the Space Center. He was the principal of Central Elementary in 1990.  

     Dan Adams was the second speaker.  Dan was Central Elementary's principal when the Odyssey was opened.  Both Stan and Dan were great Space Center supporters.  Dan Adams gave us permission to take over two classrooms for the Magellan and Discovery.  Being quite handy in a wood shop, Dan contributed his time and talents in the construction as well.  

      Dave and Steve Wall spoke about the construction of the Odyssey.  They did the whole job on budget and during the summer meaning the ship was ready for field trips in September.  Dave stayed on and became the Odyssey's first Set Director in addition to his day time job in Salt Lake City.  Steve moved to Logan to begin a teaching career. 

     I was the final speaker before the ribbon cutting.  I laugh when I see the high tech on my desk.  Notice the 6 inch screen on that computer?  Notice the size of that very expensive laser printer?  We didn't have much of a staff in those days. 

     The Odyssey in all her 1990s glory.  What a beautiful wall. Don't you like the color scheme?  Recognize any of the pictures?  Any of them still hang at the Space Center today?  Gotta love those 1950's classroom light fixtures :)
     There you go, a special post for all you Odyssey fans - the dedication of your favorite starship simulator. 


The Imaginarium

No comments: