Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

1968 And I Was There…In Spirit!

What does the Grinch do with a baseball bat? Hits a gnome and runs!

Only a couple of days until Christmas and we are already going 90 miles per hour! It will be non-stop after Sunday afternoon! Disneyland, Chinese Restaurant, friends, family, food, and merriment! Life is REALLY good!

Today began at 7:00 AM with a trip to Kohl’s (they are open 24×7 until Christmas) to find a matching jacket to Bob’s and I kinda got close:

Bob got the one on the right as it light’s up…
The one on the left would require me to light up and I am just too old!

Then we relaxed for an hour because at 10:00 AM the day got started in earnest. We picked up Nancy at 11:oo AM and headed to Old Ranch where we met up with the Finch’s and had a “quick” lunch. Miss Charlotte joined us at 12:45 AM and then we all jumped into the car and headed to Long Beach Terrace Theater to see The Nutcracker.

It was a tad foggy this morning but it cleared up around 9:30 AM

We skedaddled over to Long Beach just-in-time as traffic was worse than expected and got in about 5 minutes before everything started…but it started late anyway because this year, thanks to Islam and the radical rag heads, they did a full search of every package…through the metal detectors, etc.

The line went fairly fast once we found the shorter lines requiring us to cross the grass.

Make way! Make way! The British are coming!!!

We obtained the VIP seats early this year so we could take Nancy, Brian, and Jan back stage to see the performers! Charlotte, being a ballerina, was our guide and, as usual, did a masterful job! We were in row two center! By standing up we could see into the orchestra pit…40 musicians playing beautifully!

They were well hidden but the sounds just surrounded us!

We glanced through the program before it got underway. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 in Russia and was not received well but after some rework and adaptations, it became rather popular! The house was sold out today!

Did You Know? In 1892, Tchaikovsky finished composing the music for “The Nutcracker.” Afterward, he wrote that he felt the fairy-tale’s music was “infinitely poorer” than that of “Sleeping Beauty,” which he finished two years prior. It was the last of his three ballets–the first of which was “Swan Lake.”

This was the first ballet Jan and Brian had been too…
They though it “smashing”!

Did You Know? The section of the ballet in which dancers perform for Clara and the Prince is called the divertissement. It includes the Spanish dance (chocolate), the Arabian dance (coffee), the Chinese dance (tea), the Russian dance (trepak), reed pipes, clowns, and the beautiful “Waltz of the Flowers.”

Backstage was quite interesting…the lighting was harsh up close and quite red…I tried changing the color using photoshop but this is as good as it gets!

They wanted their picture with Santa!

Did You Know? Tchaikovsky died less than a year after the original production of The Nutcracker, never knowing the impact his work would have on audiences around the world for decades to come.

The ballet got out aout 5:00 PM and we headed to Old Ranch for a drink before dropping Nancy home…I thionk we pooped he out and we had he up until 10:30 PM last night at Topper’s and then all day today. We offered to take her to Garden Grove Elks but she decided rest was a good thing.

Dusk was falling and within a few minutes it was dark!

To Old Ranch we go but on the way there the moon gave us a show…you could say we were “mooned!” Check out the upper left-hand corner and the big yellow ball…that was the moon tonight…When we left the traffic area crossing into Seal Beach it was magnificent! We all decided the moon was really made of cheddar cheese!

Traffic was not too bad!

After a quick stop and drink at Old Ranch we headed to GG Elks via Long Beach. We ran into the gang and stayed until 10:30 PM. W sat with the Zaita, Branders, and Finch’s as our normal table was full…great fun! Enjoy the short clips (we apologize ahead of time).

The “Old Folks” have fun also!
We were having an absolute ball singing and carrying on!

What is the Christmas Memory for today? Well, it deals with our careers!

Christmas Memory #22 – I Was There… Sorta!

I began my formal career with North American Aviation just after they had won the Apollo Contract for the Apollo Command/Service Module and the Apollo SII Second Stage. It was exciting times. I began as a technician and within a couple of months moved to Test Engineering in Apollo Test and Operations (AT&O) My ham radio experience came into play BIG TIME!

In my assignment, I got to be inside the Apollo hardware and in fact sat inside Apollo Eight’s command module several times.

I was there for the fire in January 1967 and that was so tragic. It left a permanent mark in my memory. I know the exact second we first heard it…I was at work in Downey!

Apollo 8, lifting off two years later, was the first mission to take humans to the Moon and back. An important prelude to actually landing on the Moon was testing the flight trajectory and operations for getting there and back.

Apollo 8 launched from Cape Kennedy on Dec. 21, 1968, placing astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders into a 114 by 118 mile parking orbit at 32.6 degrees.

During the second revolution, at two hours, 50 minutes ground elapsed time, the S-IVB third stage restarted for a five-minute, 17-second burn, initiating translunar coast. Following S-IVB/CSM separation at three hours, 21 minutes, a 1.5 feet per second radial burn of the SM reaction control engines was initiated to establish sufficient distance for S-IVB propellant dumping. Following the propellant dumping, which sent the stage into diverging trajectory and solar orbit, the separation distance still was deemed inadequate and a second SM reaction control burn of 7.7 feet per second was performed.

The first midcourse correction occured at about 10 hours, 55 minutes into the mission and provided a first check on the service propulsion system, or SPS, engine prior to committing spacecraft to lunar orbit insertion. The second and final midcourse correction prior to lunar orbit insertion occurred at 61 hours, 8 minutes, 54 seconds.

Loss of signal occurred at 68 hours, 58 minutes, 45 seconds when Apollo 8 passed behind the moon.

I can’t tell you how excited I was and how freightened at the same time! What if the 19500’s SciFi movies were right and the aliens were on the back side of the moon?

At that moment, NASA’s three astronauts became the first humans to see the moon’s far side. The first lunar orbit insertion burn, at 69 hours, 8 minutes, 52 seconds, lasted four minutes, two seconds and reduced the spacecraft’s 8,400 feet per second velocity by 2,994 feet per second, resulting in an initial lunar orbit of 70 by 193 miles. The orbit circularized at 70 miles by the second lunar orbit insertion burn of 135 feet per second, performed at the start of the third revolution, again on the back side of the moon, at 73 hours, 35 minutes, five seconds.

During the 20-hour period in lunar orbit, the crew conducted a full, sleepless schedule of tasks including landmark and landing site tracking, vertical stereo photography, stereo navigation photography and sextant navigation. At the end of the 10th lunar orbit, at 89 hours, 19 minutes, and 16 seconds, a three-minute, 23-second trans-Earth injection burn was conducted, adding 3,522 feet per second. Only one midcourse correction, a burn of five feet per second conducted at 104 hours, was required instead of the three scheduled.

Six telecasts were conducted during the mission: two during translunar coast, two during lunar orbit and two during trans-Earth coast. These transmissions were telecast worldwide and in real time to all five continents. During a telecast on Christmas Eve, the crew read verses from the first chapter of Genesis and wished viewers, “Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.” All telecasts were of excellent quality. Voice communications also were exceptionally good throughout the mission.

I played a microscopic role but in my mind I was there with them for this historical event! It was amazing to watch the entire mission hour y hour thinking that you had some small part in the success! Great times…Great memories!

Magic was happening in front of our eyes!
Mind boggling to this day!

We arrived home about 10:45 PM and decided a “tookie” we needed to cap off the day so I headed for the oven. We got relaxed and watched a “Blue Bloods”, had a “tookie” and then crashed at 11:30 PM… Rest required!

About Paul

Just an old retired guy trying to finish out my last years on this planet. I lost my best friend and wife in early 2020. I was blessed again by reconnecting with Dr. Mary Côté, a long-time friend. Mary and I got married July 28th, 2021, and are enjoying life together and plan to spend the rest of our lives being a blessing to our friends and family.
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