Thursday, April 05, 2007

Brush With Greatness: Wernher von Braun

You are in for a treat tonight. We have the guest blogger,
NotImaginary Mabel. She told me her story, so it will be
like a Drama in Real Life from Readers Digest. Only
longer, probably, because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom never
condenses anything. Sorry if I have taken some poetic
license, Mabel. I should have recorded your quotes on
a super-secret voice-activated thingy instead of standing
in the doorway with one ear on my DoNots.
Here, now, is Mabel's Story.


Mabel's Story

I will never forget the day I met Wernher von Braun.
At the time, I was just a schoolgirl, and did not realize
how important he was. I thought he was just a friend of
our family friend.

I lived in Belleville, Illinois, with my parents. Their friends,
Charlotte and Bill, worked at Scott Air Force base. Being
Civil Service workers, they received a transfer to England.
The assignment was supposed to last two years, but
'Chuck' and Bill did not like their life in England. It was
not the standard of living to which they were accustomed.
They heated with COAL, by cracky! (OK. The by cracky
comment is mine, not Mabel's.)

Chuck and Bill left before their assignment ended. They
returned to the states, and stayed in our home. I can still
remember the day they came back. We had about 3 feet
of snow, and my dad put chains on the tires of his panel
van, and went to get steaks and ribs so he could BBQ for
them. He put on boots and went outside to grill.

Because they left England early, Chuck and Bill did not
get their jobs back at Scott Air Force Base. They were
transferred to Huntsville, Alabama. Chuck was brilliant.
She worked in a cubicle right next to Wernher von Braun.
I don't know the job title, since it was a Civil Service job.
It would have been something like a G4 or some number.
I don't know if she waw a mathematician, or chemist, or
rocket scientist, or exactly what, just that Chuck was
brilliant, and worked on rockets with Wernher von Braun.

That summer, our family was invited to Huntsville to spend
some time with Chuck and Bill. Chuck got us top security
clearance. We had a tour of the building, and got to see
the test firing of a rocket. They did not launch any rockets
from Huntsville, but the tests made the ground shake all the
way in town. We got to go in the place where they made
astronauts weightless, too. I don't know how, but I
remember sitting in a chair that made me feel weightless,
and picking up a suitcase that also felt weightless.

It was on this tour and the rocket test that I met Wernher
von Braun. As I said, I did not know how important he
was. He seemed like a regular guy. He shook my hand.
I will never forget that rocket test. I want to watch a
Space Shuttle launch if I ever have the opportunity.


From here, Mabel and I debated the merits of the U.S.
space program a bit, me being the skeptic who thinks the
moon landings never happened. Mabel disagreed. She is
more of the opinion that we landed on the moon, but that
the Space Shuttle docking is a conundrum. That's fine.
We have agreed to disagree on other things before this
minor issue concerning the history of our great nation.

Hope you have enjoyed the VERY REAL guest blogger,
my pal Mabel.

Now get on over to for
some readin' of the writin' people like me submitted to
Redneck Diva's writing challenge this week. Pick the one
you like best, and give it a votey-thingy.


LanternLight said...

Well thank you for sharing that Mabel. Next step, a blog!
(and a photo of you and HM together)

Hillbilly Mom said...

Contrary to your philosophy that Mabel and Hillbilly Mom are the same entity, pictures with the two of us DO exist. Unfortunately, these pictures are peopled with many other people with whom we work, so they will not be making an appearance on my supersecret blog anytime soon. We must remain anonymous, lest any of the revolving characters here get a nose out of joint.

LanternLight said...

Contrary to your philosophy that Mabel and Hillbilly Mom are the same entity, pictures with the two of us DO exist.


Well you could pixelate them, like they do with suspected criminals :-)

Hillbilly Mom said...

Yeah, but you could still see the unfashionable clothes, and the bad haircuts, and you'd know right away they were teachers.

LanternLight said...

Yeah, but you could still see the unfashionable clothes, and the bad haircuts,

Or that it was the 80's.

Redneck. Diva. said...

Not bad for someone in the ranks of Snuffleupagus before he was outed.

(I hope you get that reference to the Sesame Street of the 70's and 80's. If not, I'm going to be even more embarrassed then my Ob La Di answer.)

Hillbilly Mom said...

You've got me teachin' before I was out of school! I am OH SO PRECOCIOUS.

Umm...I knew Snuffleufagus was on Sesame Street. HE WAS OUTED? Waaahhhh! Poor Snuffleufagus! I am not trying to MOCK you again. But DO TELL about Snuffleufagus! Dish it, Sistah!

Hillbilly Mom said...

And I got your comment correcting your synonymial faux pas, but it wouldn't publish. Go figure! NEW BLOGGER mocks you as well!

Hillbilly Mom said...

OK, so 'then' and 'than' are not truly synonyms. I just couldn't resist throwing out the phrase 'synonymial faux pas'. And now I've done it TWICE, by cracky!

Redneck. Diva. said...

Not "outed" like Lance Bass, but outed like everyone thought Big Bird was making him up and then it turned out he wasn't.

Synonymial faux pas, indeed!!

Hillbilly Mom said...

Oh. I thought I was onto something there. Like I could break the big story that was only 30 years old.