augury doggerel

Thursday, November 28, 2002

The Smoke of Battle

Next question?

QUESTION: I notice that the three gentlemen on our left have been smoking. I wonder what they are going to do for a cigarette when they get up there?

MR. BONNEY: The question is �- and the tobacco trust please close your ears �- it is noticed that three of our seven young men are smoking. What will they be doing when they get up in the capsule?

Perhaps, Randy, you might tackle that one.

DR. LOVELACE: I think they are mature men and we will leave it up to them in large part. Of course we have a few months for an indoctrination program.

QUESTION: Do all of them smoke?

MR. BONNEY: How many of you gentlemen smoke?

CAPTAIN SLAYTON: I will have to qualify myself.

(There was a showing of hands.)

MR. BONNEY: Three and a half.

I quit once for three and a half days.


An April 1959 NASA press conference introducing the seven military pilots picked to be the first American astronauts. The Mercury rockets were Redstone and Atlas ballistic missiles topped with a payload compartment suitable for carrying a monkey, chimpanzee, or human into space. Convair built the Atlas. Chrysler built the Redstone. The first American astronaut drove a Chrysler into space.


Walter T. Bonney, director of NASA's Office of Public Information.

Dr. W. Randolph "Randy" Lovelace II, chairman of NASA's Special Committee on Life Sciences and later director of NASA's Office of Space Medicine.

Air Force Captain Donald Kent "Deke" Slayton, one of the seven Mercury astronauts being interviewed here in an April 1959 press conference. After a heart examination four months later revealed an erratic heart rate, Slayton was grounded. He eventually flew in 1975 in the first joint US-Soviet space mission. Died of brain cancer, 1993.

Lieutenant Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard (Navy) � later drove golf balls and threw a javelin on the moon. Died of leukemia, 1998.

Captain Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom (Air Force) � flew Mercury and Gemini missions. His capsule, which was lost during recovery, was recently found at the bottom of the ocean. Died in the Apollo I fire, 1967.

Lieutenant John Herschel Glenn (Marine Corps) � only long-winded speaker at the press conference, now a retired US senator.

Lieutenant Malcolm Scott Carpenter (Navy) � flew the Aurora 7 like shit and was never again allowed into space. Turned to sea exploration, now writes books.

Lieutenant Commander Walter Marty "Wally" Schirra (Navy) � the only astronaut to have flown Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. Now a retired businessman.

Captain Leroy Gordon Cooper (Air Force) � a Methodist who named his spacecraft Faith 7. Also a strong believer in UFOs, though he never saw them in space.

Not present

Sam, Miss Sam, Ham, Enos, and friends.


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