I’m a 15 Year Old Kid So Can You Send Me Stuff ?
One night I was glued to my round screen B&W television set watching a special the legendary CBS News reporter Walter Cronkite was doing on the space program, and for the first time I was going to get a tour of the newly built Manned Spacecraft Center.
This was the hottest place to be on the planet because this is where the Astronauts trained and lived. He was profiling the man who headed the center, name Dr. Robert Gilruth. When NASA was created, Gilruth became head of the Space Task Group, with the goal of putting a man in space before the Soviet Union. When that didn't happen, Gilruth suggested to President John F. Kennedy that the United States should announce a bigger goal, such as going to the Moon.
Soon the Apollo program was born, and Gilruth was made head of the NASA center which ran it, the new Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) (now the Johnson Space Center).
So I had an urge to write a fan letter to Mr. Gilruth requesting an autograph, as well as information his role at the center.
I got a letter back on April 6, 1964: Dr. Gilruth has asked me to respond to your letter … we are happy to enclose the items you requested … Sincerely, Alan Shepard.
You could have blasted me off Pad Nine at the Cape without the Atlas rocket. I went running around the dining room table. I had a personally autographed letter from the first American in space, and yes, an autographed picture of Dr. Gilruth as well.