One of the best things about having a book for sale is getting to talk to people. I told them the stories I learned from my research about Neil Armstrong, and they shared theirs. Here are my six favorite stories:
TALE #1 - This is a small photo of the Saturn V rocket. Each of the nozzles in the center is bigger than me. I could stand inside one and not bump my head.
It took many people in many places to build the Saturn V. Since my book launch I’ve met several people who helped build it, and they were proud of being a part of history.
I talked to a lady whose father worked on the Saturn V rocket in Mexico. She remembered having no phone at home, but her dad still managed to get a call from NASA at work. All these years later she still couldn’t believe the technological power of NASA, and she was still proud of her dad’s contribution to Apollo 11.
Tale #2 – This story begins and ends at Neil’s boyhood home. It’s in the picture above. The plaque, below tells you the story of how Stephen and Viola Armstrong moved Neil, June, and Dean back to Wapak when Neil was 13.
Neil graduated from Wapak’s Blume High School three years later. If you enlarge the signs, you can read a summary of his life from the time he left Wapak to the end of his aviation career.
The first picture is the front side of Benton Street where the Armstrongs lived. The last picture is a shot down the alley behind the house. Now for the story from a Benton Street neighbor. It happened when Neil was an adult, probably before his NASA days. He was flying home to visit his parents and wanted to let them know when he got into Dayton.
Neil didn’t do it in the ordinary way, with a phone call! He would fly over the field behind his parents’ house. The plane would thunder past the houses and shake them, at least that’s how I heard the story. Then Neil would fly south to Dayton and drive an hour home to see his parents.
This is the Gardens. It opened in 1999 in the field behind Benton Street, long after Viola and Stephen moved out to my neighborhood in Oakwood Hills. By 1969 their street was renamed Armstrong Drive.
Looking at the Gardens today it’s still mostly field. A corner of the building is in the picture to the left. Grass, and trees lie beside it! I closed my eyes and imagined Neil flying overhead. I could hear the faint thunder of his plane and feel a slight rumble under my feet. I thought of Neil and smiled. He loved airplanes!
PS- If you’d like to look inside, click on this link to meet Karen Tullis the owner. You’ll even get to peek in her office, once Neil’s bedroom.
TALE #3 . . . a very small story. Today this is Home Stretch. They sell t-shirts, but from 1943 till 2000 it was Brown’s Restaurant. In the 60’s it was one of the few places to eat out in Wapak.
I met a former busboy from Brown’s at a book signing. He asked if I’d ever met Neil. I said no so he told me his story. He was clearing tables one night when he noticed a man who looked like Neil. He asked, and it was. That was the sum total of their conversation.
Neil is known in Wapak, and beyond, as a very private person. He kept a low profile, and that’s exactly what this busboy noticed, and now all these years later he still remembers his small conversation with Neil.
TALE #4 . . . a story about Neil’s dad. This story was told to me by Wapak Mayor Don Wittwer who was part of the team who put the 1969 parade together. I was curious about how they got Bob Hope. He was so famous back then. Don said someone in Wapak knew someone who knew Bob. They made the call, and he came. I guess it’s easy to get Bob Hope when it’s a parade for the first man to set foot onto the moon.
From 1955 - 1962 Neil was a test pilot which was a super dangerous job. Don Wittwer was at a meeting with Neil’s dad Stephen. He noticed Stephen was unusually quiet and tense. Later in the evening Stephen got a phone call. Afterwards he seemed more relaxed, more talkative. Later Don found out Neil had a test flight that day. The call was to say that the flight had gone well. I imagine it wasn’t the first time, or the last that Neil’s parents worried about his safety.
TALE #5 . . . the story of a photograph. I met the photographer who took this picture. I was doing a book signing at Riverside Arts and chatting with him. He asked me to Google ‘Neil Armstrong paper airplane.’ I thought it was an odd request, but it seemed harmless. It was.
This picture came up. It was taken in 1974 by one of Neil’s students at the University of Cincinnati. The man I was talking to was THAT student 40 years ago. He’s still proud of his photo, and of the fact it comes up first on Google.
Here are two links for you . The first is on Pinterest, and it’s just the photo. The second is from the university magazine. It tells you a little about the picture setting and the photographer. He never introduced himself, but he bought a book that I was thrilled to autograph. How often do you meet someone who had Neil as a teacher? Now I’d like to introduce you to Ralph Spitzen, UC graduate, Neil’s student, and Pinterest photographer.
Pinterest Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/d7/c8/c7d7c8ff957cd2bcfa87cffaa79d2d52.jpg
UC Magazine: https://magazine.uc.edu/issues/1011/oncampusyesterday.html
TALE #6 . . . the final story – a salute to Neil from his son and granddaughter. I couldn’t find a picture of Mark or Kali in the parade, but I found this one with the Navy band. Neil spent 3 years as a Navy flier, and it was an important part of his journey to the moon.
I missed the parade, but a Wapak friend told me to google Neil Armstrong’s granddaughter. I did, and I found a video of Kali Armstrong singing the song her dad wrote to honor her grandfather. The link is below.
Under it is another one for First on the Moon. They’re the people who organized a year’s worth of fun for the community. The site has two great videos. The first will give you a taste of what Wapak was like this summer.
The second one is near the bottom. It’s a clip from ‘So You Think You Can Dance.” A hometown boy was on the show, and we all loved listening to their attemps to say our name, Wapakoneta. Enjoy!
Song Link: https://kryptonradio.com/2019/07/17/listen-to-neil-armstrongs-granddaughter-sing-flight-of-fancy/
First on the Moon Link: https://www.firstonthemoon.org
Timeline: Blast-off for a Trip to the Moon
7:45AM – The closeout crew sealed the hatch, and they purged and pressurized the cabin to make it safe for launch. That means the cabin was explosion-free.
8:30 AM - The closeout crew left the launch pad.
9:32 AM – Apollo 11 launched.
9:35 AM - The 1st stage engines shut down and dropped into the ocean.
9:41 AM – The 2nd stage rockets cut-off and fell into the ocean.
9:44 AM – Apollo 11 entered the earth’s orbit.
12:22 PM - After circling the earth 1-1/2 times, they fired the 3rd stage engine sending Columbia on its way to the moon.
12:52 PM – Michael Collins separated Apollo from the 3rd stage rocket. He turned Columbia
(command module) around and parked its nose next to the Eagle (lunar module). The discarded rocket was thrown into an orbit around the sun so it wouldn’t run into Eagle or Columbia.
My source for the dates and times is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11. I converted the time to Eastern Standard, hopefully correctly, to make things easier for you. I didn’t see any events for July 17th or 18th. My guess is that the Apollo astronauts kept Columbia ship-shape, talked to NASA Mission Control in Houston, and monitored conditions aboard their spaceship.
July 19th - 1:22 PM Apollo sailed behind the moon, then fired its engine to begin lunar orbit. They circled the moon 30 more times, and they scanned the surface for the Sea of Tranquility.
July 20th - 8:52 AM - Neil and Buzz climbed into the Eagle and prepared to leave Columbia behind.
1:44 PM – Eagle and Columbia separated. Eagle made a spin so Michael could check to make sure the spaceship wasn’t damaged and that its landing gear was correctly positioned. It was!
As Eagle headed towards the moon, the two astronauts noticed they were passing landmarks 2-3 seconds early. Eagle was moving too fast, and it would land miles west of their target.
Five minutes into the descent and 6000 feet above the moon, about a mile, an alarm went off. It signaled that the computer couldn’t do all its jobs on time so its software postponed a few. Eagle continued downward.
Neil focused again on the landing target – it was covered in boulders. He took partial control of the Eagle. Buzz called out navigation info. At 250 feet Buzz saw a crater in the new landing site. At 100 feet, the fuel supply was dwindling, and they had to land soon. The astronauts had 90 seconds of fuel left before they crashed. Dust was kicking up, and it was hard to see, but Neil used some large rocks to guide him.
A few seconds later a probe hanging from the footpads of the lunar module touched the moon, setting off a light. Neil was supposed to shut down the engine, but he forgot. The NASA engineers were afraid Eagle’s exhaust would cause an explosion. It didn’t! Three seconds later Eagle landed, and Neil shut down the engine. They had only 25 seconds of fuel left.
4:17 PM – A second later, Neil said, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Ground Control said, “Roger, Twan – Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!
Dr. Robert Bryant from NASA sent me the video link below. Neil will take you through the
last 3-1/2 minutes of the moon landing. The screen will split in two. You’ll see what the astronauts saw on their way down. You’ll also see what Google could show us in 2011. https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/documents/moonLanding/https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/documents/moonLanding/
Timeline: Prepping for a Moonwalk
6:47 PM – Buzz radioed NASA for a pre-approved message. He asked listeners to take a moment to think about the landing. Then he asked everyone to give thanks. Buzz did – by taking communion privately.
7:43 PM - Neil and Buzz started getting ready for their moonwalk. On Earth it took 2 hours. On the moon, 3-1/2. Then they depressurized Eagle.
10:39 PM - Eagle’s hatch opened. Neil, in a space suit, struggled to squeeze out the door. Would
you believe the two astronauts had their highest heart rates going in and out of that hatch?
10: 51 PM - Neil climbed down the ladder, but he couldn’t see his feet. Why not? The camera remote control that he wore blocked his view. The shots were grainy, but Neil got them.
10: 56 PM - Neil stepped off the ladder and said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for
mankind.” Neil planned to say ‘a man,’ but either he slurred the words, or the camera did. Recent study says camera static caused the omission.
11:03 PM - Neil collected a soil sample and put it in the pocket of his space suit, in case of
emergency. One of the mission’s key jobs was to figure out what the moon was made of.
11:15 PM - Neil picked up the camera and took a sweeping shot of the moon. Then he put it on a tripod. Buzz climbed down the ladder. His comment, “Magnificent Desolation.”
Then the two astronauts tested the moon’s gravity. It is 1/6 of the Earth’s. Neil said it was easier than their practice sessions on Earth. Two small problems, they felt like they were constantly tipping backwards, and the ground was a little slippery, but the astronauts kept their balance. Loping along was the best way to move, but they had to plan their path 6-7 steps ahead.
Then the astronauts planted the flag in front of the camera. Buzz hoped nothing would go wrong, but the flagpole only went a couple inches into the ground. Buzz was afraid it’d fall over in front of their worldwide audience. He saluted it, and then President Richard Nixon’s voice came on the telephone-radio system. He said it was “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.” He made a short speech, following the advice of astronaut, Frank Borman.
Then the astronauts had another 30 minutes on the moon. They set up an experiment to measure moonquakes. They also took pictures and
gathered soil samples, but time was flying so they stopped labeling them. Neil was moving so fast, and his metabolic rates were so high, that Mission Control sent him a coded message to slow down.
Their body rates remained low so NASA gave the astronauts 15 more minutes. That first moonwalk was limited in time and distance because NASA didn’t know how much water their bodies would need to control their temperature.
Buzz went back inside the Eagle first. They used a pulley to get their 48 pounds of soil on board. Then Neil reminded Buzz to throw down the memorial
bag. It honored the fallen astronauts from Apollo 1 and Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin. It also included a gold olive branch, and goodwill statements from leaders around the world. Then Neil climbed aboard, and they turned on the LM life support. To lighten liftoff, they threw out the life support backpacks, their moonboots, the empty camera, and some other equipment.
1:11 AM - They closed the hatch, pressurized the LM, and tried to sleep. After 7 hours of rest, at about 8AM, Mission Control in Houston woke the astronauts to get ready to return home. It took
about 2-1/2 hours to get ready. Somewhere in my account or Wikipedia’s, my time is off. It should have been about 10:30 AM.
Also, sometime during that 7 hours, Buzz accidentally bumped and damaged a circuit breaker to the main engine, the one that’d lift them off the moon. Everyone was terrified, but sticking a felt-tip pen in the circuit saved the day.
1:54 PM - The Eagle lifted off, the silver ascent stage only. They left the red descent stage on the
moon. As they left, Buzz caught sight of it being whipped around by their exhaust – then – the flag toppled over.
Next up: the return home.
BTW – this is a famous picture from that 1st moon landing. It is the only picture where you can send both astronauts. Neil took the picture of Buzz in the spacesuit , and Neil is reflected in Buzz’s helmet.
Timeline: Time to return home to Earth
July 20th – 21st - When Eagle left, Michael Collins was alone making solo orbits around the moon. He wasn’t lonely, even though he was out of radio contact every time he passed the far side of the moon. Michael was busy with housekeeping jobs that would get everyone home.
His first was to find Eagle. Michael knew it was about 4 miles off target, but he never found it. He also did maintenance jobs, like dumping extra water the fuel cells made and preparing the cabin for Eagle’s return.
On his third orbit around the Moon, Mission Control warned Michael about the coolant temperature. If it got too cold, parts of Columbia would freeze. They wanted him to switch to manual control and implement procedure 17, but Michael switched to manual and back to automatic again.
Michael did chores and kept an eye on the temperature. By the end of the next orbit, the problem resolved itself. While Neil and Buzz moon-walked, Michael relaxed.
Then he slept. He needed to be ready to rendezvous with Eagle, but he was ready to fly down to get them, just in case.
July 21st - 5:24 PM Eagle and Columbia met each other, and by 5:35 they reconnected. No problems!
7:41 PM Eagle’s silver ascent stage, was jettisoned off to orbit the moon. Eventually its orbit decayed, and it fell to earth. No sorry, to the moon!
July 23rd – the astronauts made one last TV broadcast. Michael thanked the people who built and tested the Saturn 5 rocket. It was an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, and it worked as expected.
Buzz commented that there were more than 3 men on their spaceship. Government and industry helped it fly. Then he read from Psalms to acknowledge God’s role. “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him?”
Neil thanked the American people and government for believing that man could go to the moon. He thanked those who put their hearts, and their talents into the
Saturn rocket. He finished with, “To all the people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11.”
The astronauts were due to splash down on the 24th, but there were a couple problems to solve first. A bearing at the Guam tracking station failed. It would have stopped communication for the last part of the trip. It couldn’t be repaired in time so station
director Charles Force had his 10-year-old son Greg reach inside the housing and pack it full of grease. It worked! Neil sent Greg a thank you.
The next problem, Air Force Captain Hank Brandli had access to top secret spy satellites. They showed a storm front headed to the recovery area. It would make it hard to see Columbia, and winds would shred its parachutes. Two Navy commanders believed him. They put
their careers at risk and convinced NASA to move the recovery area 215 nautical miles to the northeast.
Changing the recovery area also changed Columbia’s flight plan and the sequence of its computer program. The Navy had the Hornet in position.
July 24th – Before dawn the Hornet launched 4 helicopters and 3 tracer planes.
12:44 PM – The helicopters spotted Columbia’s parachutes.
12: 52 PM - Columbia splashed down 1440 nautical miles east of Wake Island. It landed upside down. Navy divers attached flotation collars and a sea anchor. It took 10 minutes to right the capsule. Rafts were launched to get the astronauts.
The divers gave the astronauts biological isolation garments. They rubbed the astronauts down with a bleach solution. After the astronauts and divers were aboard the helicopters, the raft was sunk, on purpose. NASA was worried about moon
germs. They even wiped Columbia down with a disinfectant.
1:53 PM - The helicopter took the astronauts to the Hornet’s hangar bay where they walked into the Mobile Quarantine Facility. That’s where they finished the 21 days of quarantine that began when Eagle and Columbia reconnected in space.
President Nixon was already aboard the Hornet, ready to welcome the astronauts back. He thanked them, “As a result of what you’ve done, the world has never been closer.”
After the president left, Hornet used a crane to lift the 5-ton Columbia space capsule aboard. Then they moved it down beside the astronauts’ quarantine unit.
The Hornet sailed onto Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where the astronauts and their quarantine unit were loaded aboard a cargo plane and flown to Houston.
July 28th - 6AM The astronauts arrived at Houston’s Lunar Receiving Laboratory for their final days of quarantine.
July 30th – Columbia was flown to the Lunar Receiving Lab in Houston after it finished its checkup on Ford Island and Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.
August 10th - The Interagency Committee met in Atlanta and lifted the quarantine on the 3 astronauts, their physician, engineer and on Columbia itself.
Timeline: Time to Celebrate!
August 13 – This is the ticker-tape parade in New York for Neil, Buzz, and Michael. There was another one in Chicago that day. About six million people attended the two parades.
That night President Nixon held a state dinner in Los Angeles to celebrate Apollo 11. Members of Congress were there, 44 governors, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Vice President, and ambassadors from 83 nations. It must have been dazzling to the astronauts who’d just come out of quarantine.
President Nixon and Vice President Agnew presented each astronaut with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the picture to the left.
September 6 – Neil came home to Wapak for a parade. I was there! I was 10. I don’t remember the heat, or Neil. Sorry! I remember Bob Hope came, Tricia Nixon Cox (the president’s daughter), the Purdue marching band, and best of all, Purdue’s Golden Girl (she twirled a baton). So did I!
Neil did a speech for kids at the football field, but I don’t think we went. It’s sad – I’m 60, and I see the opportunities I missed. I can’t go back in time and watch, BUT I can write about it for you. Here’s the link for the Wapak parade: https://www.cnbctv18.com/photos/buzz/hometown-of-neil-armstrong-ready-to-celebrate-50th-anniversary-of-moon-landing-3955881-13.htm
September 16 – The astronauts went to Congress. They presented a flag to the House of Representatives, and one to the Senate. Both had been on the Moon.
That was the beginning of a 38-day world tour that took the astronauts to 22 foreign countries. Leaders from many of those countries met the astronauts. Many honored them with medals. Some of Neil’s are in the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. You can see them in the museum’s display case.
September 29th to November 5th – That’s how long the world tour lasted. I can’t imagine the sacrifice the astronauts and their families made. Sometime in July, pre-launch, they gave up their private lives to travel to the moon. They didn’t get them back till early November. That’s a huge price to pay! Maybe that’s why all 3 astronauts left NASA pretty quickly after the tour was over.
In 1970 Michael retired from NASA. He took a job at the Department of State as an Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
In 1971 Buzz left to become Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.
In 1971 Neil resigned from NASA and accepted a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati. The reason . . . their aerospace engineering department.
This month was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing. The astronauts all moved onto other jobs. Neil died on August 25, 2012. If you see someone wink at the moon in Wapak, you know they’re doing it to honor Neil. He’s still a big deal!
Michael and Buzz are still alive. I saw them on the news with President Trump and Melania honoring this big anniversary. I loved Buzz’s comment. He said something like, it’s a shame we haven’t been back to the moon. I agree.
Here’s to the next space adventure! Have you heard of Artemis? She’s Apollo’s twin sister and the name of NASA’s future missions, first back to the moon and onto Mars.
Late 2019 -- First commercial deliveries/landers to the moon
And that’s how I want to end my posts about the 50th anniversary, with hope for the future. The kids who will be building Orion or riding aboard Artemis missions to the moon, and then onto Mars, they sat in America’s classrooms over the last 10 years. Maybe one of them was a student of mine. I hope so!
This is the crew of Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Fifty years ago tonight they were somewhere close to Cape Canaveral in Florida, waiting for launch time. I wonder if they were able to go to sleep. I would have been awake all night.
Back in 1969 I was 10. I had no problem sleeping even though Wapakoneta, Ohio was a-twitter with the world watching us. My parents lived a block away from Neil’s parents. It was a huge deal!
This is the run up to the launch date. On May 20 , 1969 the Saturn V rocket started its trip to the moon using that 3.5 -mile crawler-way. The rocket weighed 6000 tons. That’s about the weight of 6000 cars.
The crawler pulled the rocket along at a speed of a mile an hour. That’s pretty fast if you imagine it pulling that stack of 6,000 cars. A Saturn V rocket was HEAVY!
Look below! That’s NASA Mission Control in Houston back in 1969. That’s what NASA engineers looked like, but not their kids, or me. We looked more like the Brady Bunch. That picture’s copyrighted so I’ll share the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brady_Bunch.
I also found the perfect song for 1969. It was the Age of Aquarius! Warning – music videos didn’t launch until 1981, but the song is still great. Enjoy!
The picture to the right was taken 48 years later. I was visiting NASA, and I took pictures of the things I remembered, things I thought you might be interested in. I hadn’t used any of them, till now. I hadn’t started writing NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM, but I had a blog to write.
Below is the link that started this post. ABC News was doing a feature about the 50th anniversary, and part of it featured the restoration of mission control. The only thing missing are those NASA engineers and their crew cuts. Enjoy!
This pair of pictures gives you an idea of the size of the Saturn Rocket and two pieces of the Apollo Space Module. Take a look at that first big black ring near the top of the Saturn Rocket. Everything above it is the Apollo Module that went into space.
Below it are three sets of rockets, three sets of fuel tanks. The bottom two fell into the ocean after their fuel was used up. This link might help you picture these pieces. https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/saturn-v-rocket/
The top rocket and its fuel tank took Neil, Buzz, and Michael into space. Resource link: https://www.seeker.com/what-happened-to-all-the-saturn-v-rocket-stages-1768231080.html
Look below that black ring again. There are four pieces stacked on top of it. All four pieces went into space. The one on top is the Command Module. The picture beside it was taken in Houston. That module looks like it’s been to space and back. Here’s a link to help you imagine the pieces of the Apollo Capsule: https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/apollo-spacecraft/
This is another photo from Houston. Do you see the Command Module at the top? That’s where the astronauts spent their time until they returned home again.
The Service Module is below it. It powered the life support systems for the crew. It made electricity to power Apollo. It also held the main rocket engine. It moved Apollo in and out of either the earth’s orbit or the moon’s. Thrusters made smaller adjustments.
Here are two trivia questions for you: Which astronaut got to be the 2nd man to walk on the moon? Which one stayed aboard the command module? Was it Neil, Buzz, or Michael? The answer – Buzz walked on the moon, and Michael kept the Command Modul in orbit so they could all go home.
Here’s question three: Did Michael ever make it to the moon? The answer – No, he didn’t. He retired from NASA a year later in 1970.
This is a model of the Lunar Module. It sat underneath the Service Module (from the picture above) in that huge Saturn V Rocket. The Lunar Module had two pieces. The ascent stage is the silver part on top, and the descent stage is the red part on the bottom.
Neil and Buzz used the red part first to power down to the moon. When they landed, they crawled out, did a little exploring, and then they left the descent module behind. It’s still there, 50 years later, sitting in that same spot on the moon.
The ascent module, the silver part, flew them back up to the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was the only piece of that huge Saturn V rocket that returned to Earth again.
Would you believe that the astronauts took pictures of each other after they separated in space? The first picture is of the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was named Columbia, and Michael Collins was all alone inside.
The picture beside it is the Lunar Module, and it’s heading for the moon. It was named the Eagle, and Neil and Buzz were inside. These are the pictures they took of each other back on July 20th, 1969.
This is my last classroom. It was June of 2015. School was almost out for the summer. It was almost out forever.
This is me in that classroom back in 2015. Find the flag, and you’ll find me in the doorway. Looking back, I had no idea what was ahead. I was still a teacher. I believed I would always be a teacher. But, I knew my last teaching license would expire in June of 2019. In four short years.
June of 2019 has come and gone. I didn’t renew my license – I let it go. It was time. I will never again be a teacher. I will never have a class or a classroom again. It makes me a little sad . . .
But – I don’t want to! I don’t want to belong to a class or a classroom any more. Why? I’m having too much fun becoming the new me. Over the last 3 years, I have slowly been changing, like a caterpillar in a cocoon.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how I’ve changed, how I’ve evolved, and where I’m heading.
This is me in the Fall of 2015. I was no longer teaching, but I came back to my old school as a writer. I wasn’t published, but I’d been writing for 8 years. I had something to tell kids about writing, about editing, about failing, and persisting.
In the spring of 2016 I started subbing. It brought in a little money, and it got me back in my comfort zone with teachers and kids. That year I subbed 2-3 days a week.
In the fall of 2016 I decided to volunteer at the Armstrong Museum. I was on my way to becoming a docent, but I stopped. I realized, even retired I had to prioritize my time. I couldn’t do everything. I backed away from becoming a docent, but I still volunteered at the museum. I continued to sub, but only one day a week. I pulled everything back to focus on my writing, to finally write a manuscript that could be published.
I still don’t have a book traditionally published, but now I understand how much goes into it. A manuscript has to be practically perfect to find an agent or a publisher. They invest a tremendous amount of time and money to produce a book. They have to get a return on their investment. I know . . . I just self-published Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream. I put in the money and the time, and I’m hoping I can earn my investment back.
I couldn’t have traditionally published it. It takes 2-3 years for that. I started writing in June of 2018. Going traditionally would have meant summer 2020 or 2021. That would have been too late for the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. Neil’s book birthday was May 17, 2019, giving me 2 months to spare!
So this is me in June 2019, author and publisher! It’s also me, a short term sub! I just applied for my substitute license. It’s going to be back dated to June so that whoever, whatever I become, a small part of me will ALWAYS be a teacher. I don’t think I could ever turn away from it, and frankly I don’t want to. Being a teacher helps me to see the world the way kids do, and it helps me write the stories they need and want.
So here’s to the next frontier . . . to Rinda Beach as substitute teacher, writer, author, and publisher! I wonder where I’ll be in five years when I renew that substitute teacher license again.
Part 1 -- How long did it take Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence?
7 days 17 days 27 days
The answer: 17
Thomas began drafting the Declaration on June 11 and finished on June 28, 1776. He had a few books and pamphlets to help him.
The Declaration was revised by members of Congress like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, and it was adopted on July 4, 1776, less than a month after Jefferson started writing it.
Part 2— Which two signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence later became president?
Thomas Jefferson/George Washington
John Adams/ Thomas Jefferson
James Madison/ Thomas Jefferson
George Washington/ James Madison
And the answer is . . .
Did you guess right?
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
56 men signed the Declaration of Independence, but only 2 became president. Most people think George Washington was a signer, but he was kind of busy . . . he was defending New York City from the British. Instead he followed John Hancock’s instructions and read it to the Continental Army on July 9th, just 5 days later.
James Madison wasn’t part of the Continental Congress in 1776. He was just 25, and a member of the Virginia state legislature. Madison became a delegate 4 years later. At age 29, he was the youngest delegate and later became one of our founding fathers.
John Adams signed on the right side of the Declaration. He became our second president, serving one term, from 1797-1801. John was a lawyer, diplomat, and political theorist. He was also known for his diary and correspondence, especially with his wife Abigail.
Thomas Jefferson signed in the middle, five from the bottom. He was John Adams vice president and then our third president. He served two terms from 1801-1809. He advocated for democracy, republicanism, and individual rights for our country.
More Info -- en.wikipedia.org
Part 3 – Final question — Which country hosts the biggest 4th of July celebrations outside of the USA?
Argentina Australia Denmark Ireland.
None of these felt right, but the answer is . . . Denmark!
The Rebildfesten or Rebild Festival started with a Danish chemist from Illinois, Max Henius. He started a group who bought a patch of land that became Denmark’s first national park. They donated it to Denmark’s king who promised that it would always be a place to celebrate America’s Independence. Many Danish-Americans still return to celebrate our 4th of July in Denmark.
Here’s the link for this year’s festival: https://www.rebildfesten.dk/rebild-festival-2019
The Department of Defense buys the most explosives in the US. Who’s in second place? Take your best guess!
Is it . . .
And the answer is . . .
The Magic Kingdom! Disney World!
I know! I thought it’d be NASA, but I forgot that fireworks are made from gunpowder, and Disney puts on a show every night on their Main Street. They also do other pyrotechnic shows (fireworks).They’re known world-wide for them!
Check the link below for more fun facts about Disney World. My favorite - Tinker Bell flies down 750 feet from the Cinderella Castle to Tomorrowland. That’s the signal to light up those fireworks.
Link for more information: www.southernliving.com
My Source: https://quizzclub.com/games/bonus/who-is-the-second-largest-purchaser-of-explosives-in-the-united-states-after-the-department-of-defense/answer/54914/
I usually avoid having my picture taken but the last couple months I’ve grinned and said ‘cheese.’
This is me at the Rose Blenn Literary Festival. Neil wasn’t out yet, but my critique partners talked me into going. They said it was good practice for the future. They were right!
You can’t see Debbie and Rick, but Donna’s behind me, to the left of the Story Catcher Publishing sign. She’s been my self-publishing guru. I couldn’t have made this journey without her advice!
This is me at the Marvelous Midwest SCBWI conference. I’m with my friend and conference roommate, Aileen. Without her, Neil might never have been published.
In November I was ready to quit. Then I went to the Helen Hunt Circle to talk about being a writer. I told them about losing my 3rd illustrator. Those ladies wouldn’t let me give up. Before I left, they gave me three names.
I also decided to reach out to Aileen. She had an illustrator she thought would be great, It was Cole Roberts, and that’s how I met my illustrator.
These pictures came from that same SCBWI conference in early May. I took my proof of Neil so I could get pictures with a few writing friends, BUT I couldn’t share them.
Why not? Purdue has a trademark on Neil’s name and his image. I found out in early April that I had to get permission from Purdue to use them in my book. Without that permission, I couldn’t sell my book, and I couldn’t share these pictures with you.
BUT I saved them, and now I CAN share them. The first friend is Jarm. She’s in my debut group, On the Scene in 2019. Her debut book, THE HEART CHANGER, was for sale at the conference bookstore. She didn’t have a copy so she used her tablet. I think it’s a great photo!
The second friend is Shirin. I met her last year in The Children’s Book Academy class, the 12 x 12 writing group, and my Writing Magic critique group. I hadn’t met either Jarm or Sharin in person before, but it was great to meet both of them!
Donna, Charlotte, Carolyn K, Carolyn C, Alex, Mira, Callie, Melissa, Candice, Candace, Sandra, Theresa, Nancy, Patricia, Karen, and Shirin. They are my writing community, and my book is better because they commented on what to keep, what to change, and what to delete.
It meant the world that two of my school friends made time to see me and my book. I’ve known Laura and Fran since I moved into Elida Elementary back in 1999. Fran is in the first picture. She was the school secretary, and she took great care of me and my students. Thanks, Fran!
The second is one of my 2nd grade teaching friends, Laura. I remember the 1st time I met her . . . she smacked me/my arm. I was so shocked! Normally that’s not how you make friends, but with Laura it was like becoming an honorary sister.
I owe another friend an apology. Becky came down to Wapak, and I forgot to get a picture. I’m so sorry! Becky taught me how to be a teacher back in 1983 when I was brand-new. She was one of my mentors, and I’m grateful for everything she taught me. Thanks, Becky!
Here are a few more shots from this month’s Meet the Author/book signings. Thanks to my hosts at the Wapakoneta library, Riverside Art Center, and Casa Chic. They welcomed me in and made each event special.They made sure I left with photo memories that included a smile. I am grateful to them for the opportunity to share NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM.
I started a business that produces a new product to sell, what am I?
A Manager Bureaucrat Entrepreneur Salesman Inventor
Tomorrow . . . The paperbacks are here!
Did you know books have birthdays just like people do? Neil was supposed to have his book birthday, or his book launch on May 1st. Then I pushed it back to May 7th. That’s my birthday, but that didn’t work out either so I set it up for today, May 17th. This time IT WORKED!
This is the full cover PDF for my hardback book. I have another one for the paperback. I took a picture of it because I couldn’t upload a PDF into Weebly or Word. Cole did both covers. Do you see sets of lines around it. These are Cole’s guide lines for Ingram. They help them print the cover. I didn’t know about any of this till I decided to self-publish this book, and Cole showed me how all this worked, BEAUTIFULLY! I’m a fan of his work!
This is the back cover. I wanted you to be able to read it. The top lines in black are a summary of the story.
In aqua there’s a quote from Mr. Robert G. Bryant, PhD, Eagle Scout, NASA Senior Research Engineer, and in the Space Hall of Fame. WOW!
I asked Rob to do a quote for my book because I know him. How? I’m a 2nd grade teacher, remember? His son is marrying my daughter. I asked him, but with the condition he didn’t have to do it, especially if he didn’t like the book.
I was so relieved that he did! My guess is that his favorite part is the back matter. That’s where I have directions for making your own wind tunnel. REALLY!
The last quote in aqua is from Patricia A Johnson. She wasn’t a rocket scientist, but, she was my middle school English teacher. Would you believe when she read it, she found 3 mistakes? I corrected 2. I didn’t on the 3rd because it made me add words that didn’t move the story, so I kept it as is.
This is Amazon’s link for the paperback book. I couldn’t believe when I went in today and found it. Wow! What a feeling! Amazon has it in both hardback and paperback form. It says it ships in a few days. Why? My printer is IngramSparks, and they print on demand.
Here’s the link for Barnes and Noble. They have the hardback and paperback books too.
Both Amazon and Barnes will have an eBook available soon. It’s cheaper if you want to wait. Ingram is adding in a Trademark to the copyright page. That’s the reason I had to hold off on Neil’s book birthday since May 1st. The Foundation at Purdue was given Trademark authority in 2015 by Neil Armstrong’s family, and yesterday I got my permission agreement. HOORAY! I put in the change for the copyright on the paper and hardback copies. They came through last night so I put them into sell. Now the only other thing missing is my bio information. That will be one of my next projects!
If you would like an autographed plate, just email me, and I’ll be glad to snail mail it to you. If you live near Wapak, you can get a copy from me directly, autographed of course! They’ll also be on sale locally at Casa Chic and at Riverside Art Center. I can work with them to get you an autographed copy. I am SO thrilled to celebrate Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream’s book birthday with all of you!
What five-finger exercise is a piece of music written for the purpose of practicing on what instrument?
Sax Trombone Violin Piano
The Answer: The Piano
I didn’t know Chopin’s etudes are also designed to train the fingers. Etude opus 10 is his best set of exercises, according to my source. They also suggested that Fur Elise by Beethoven may have been written to promote piano dexterity. I played it, loved it, but never guessed it was about fingering, not Elise. Would you believe science has studied piano exercises? George A. Kochevitsky wrote a book about it, and it even includes his thoughts about Chopin and his etudes.
I started lessons in 3rd grade with Mrs. Cliffwell. I took lessons for 2 years until she retired. I don’t remember my 2nd teacher. I think it’s because I developed some bad habits like the girl in the picture. Her hands are flat, and her arms are slumped down.
Mrs. Frazier whipped me back into shape. She taught me to hold my fingers like claws, using my hand and arm like 1 long lever to control those fingers. You can’t play fast or complicated pieces with slumping hands. I blossomed under her teaching. I did district solo contests where judges rated my performances. I always got 1’s or 2’s. I also accompanied the middle school choir. That led to playing for a few vocal contest soloists. I loved Mrs. Frazier! Then she retired too!
Did you guess which 2 instruments I played in concert and in marching band? I played the clarinet and the alto saxophone. They’re the 2 instruments to the left of the trombone.
I started playing the clarinet in 4th grade, a year after I started piano lessons. A lot of kids struggled to learn their instrument and the notes. I had it easy. I only had to learn the clarinet.
It made clarinet easy and helped me to win 1st chair when we started competing for seats. I still remember my band teacher from elementary school. Mr. Trunk directed our first concert with all the instruments put together. It was a horrible version of something like MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB.
In middle school my band teacher was Miss Souder. She scared the bejesus out of me till the candy run-in. You fund band by doing things like selling candy bars. My dad wouldn’t let me sell so I had to go in and tell Miss Souder. OH MY! She was furious, and I burst into tears. She reined in her temper, and she soon became one of my all-time favorite teachers.
Miss Souder gave private lessons, and she was strict, but she always pushed you to do your best. She pushed me to go to district solo contests. I was first-chair through middle school because of piano training, my drive, and Miss Souder’s lessons. She pushed me to do an all-district band. I wasn’t first chair, but I was still in the first section.
Each spring Miss Souder gave away scholarships for Ball State’s music summer camp to one 8th grader, one 9th. I won in 9th grade, and it gave me a musical peek outside Northwest Ohio. I discovered I was good, but everyone else was better. I wasn’t 1st chair or even 1st section. I was third. It was a humbling experience, but I learned a lot, and I was determined to get better.
This is me in marching band. I picked up the alto saxophone because clarinets weren’t brass instruments. Mr. Trunk from elementary school was my band teacher again, and he wanted an all brass band like the Ohio State Marching Band. I played saxophone during marching season, from June till November. Then I switched back to clarinet for concert band.
In high school I found my last piano teacher, Mrs. Skinner, but I called her Anita. She played violin and piano. She was younger than all my other teachers. She had two little kids, and I wanted to be like her.
I kept doing contest with piano and clarinet, but never with saxophone, and I continued to do well with 1’s and 2’s, till my senior year. That’s when I met a boy.
Everything changed after that, I spent less time with my music and more time with the boy. That year I went to a piano solo contest. For the first time I wasn’t ready. I had to memorize the piece, and I didn’t spend enough time on it. I fell apart and forgot where I was. Somehow, I managed to finish.
The judge was a music professor from Bowling Green University. He gave me a 3, my worst score ever, but he gave me the kindest comment. He told me I had potential, but I needed to invest the time, 1-2 hours per instrument, per day.
I thought about what he said, and I left music behind. I didn’t want to invest the time to become a musician or a music teacher. After high school I quit the piano and clarinet, but I never stopped loving music. It’s the gift that keeps giving whenever I turn on the radio.
I became an elementary teacher and taught 2nd grade. One of the gifts I gave my students was the gift of music. I never played for them, but I was known for occasionally singing and dancing around the room, with whatever song crossed my mind. Tonight, in the words of Kiki Dee, I still have the music in me. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLQRW7J_D0U
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!