Tag Archives: Manned Spaceflight

Visiting Grandmother’s House Part~2

17 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


My cousins and I thought it was great fun playing on the hay bales stacked in the barn and shucking corn for the cows and horses.  Sometimes we were allowed to let1 the cows out to pasture in the mornings and round them up back to the barn for milking in the evenings.  I even tried my hand at milking, but never really got the hang of the technique.

I remember an occasion when one of my uncles found a four-foot corn snake in the chicken coop eating the eggs out of the nests.  The custom was to put white glass eggs in the nests to encourage the hens to lay, and you could see 2where the snake had swallowed a couple of the glass eggs, making bulges along its length.  My uncle grabbed the snake by the tail, swinging it around over his head like a bullwhip, and then snapping its head off in a motion like cracking a whip.  Yuk, what a mess!  Egg yolk went everywhere. Then, after the snake finally stopped squirming, he retrieved the glass eggs and washed them off to use again.

Back then, many of my uncles and some of my cousins chewed tobacco, and of course I was “encouraged” by some of the kids my age to try it.  I didn’t have too much trouble with it until one day when I tried chewing and swimming at the same3 time.  We were having a ball in my uncle’s pond when I swallowed a mouthful of water and my chaw of tobacco.  Later that evening, my mother kept wondering why I felt sick to my stomach.

Another sport we engaged in was the building and shooting of “Firecracker Rifles”.  We would notch a short piece of 2”x 4” for our rifle stock (it really didn’t look anything like a rifle stock), and then attach a 2’ or 3’ length of ½“ pipe to the notch by bending nails over the pipe.   Red M-80 firecrackers fit nicely into the pipe, and had strong fuses that wouldn’t go out inside the pipe.  We would use marbles that would just fit the “barrel” of our homemade rifle.  And, there you have it.

5Amazingly, if everything was fit together tightly, and your aim was any good, this homemade rifle could put a marble through both sides of a 1-gallon can at short range!  Pretty scary when you think about 7-10 year olds doing something like that.  Of course, our parents had no idea we were playing with anything this dangerous, or we would have been in BIG trouble.

We also used those same M-80 firecrackers in contests to see who could blow a tin can the highest, and because they were waterproof, we would use them to blast crayfish out of their holes.  As you read this, I can just hear you saying, “Oh, boys will be boys!”  Yea, but it would surely have given my mother a heart attack if she had known what we were up to.

Well, those are just a few wonderful things I remember my cousins and me doing  during those family trips to my grandmother’s house in Louisiana when I was a kid.  Of course, some of those experiences may have had a profound influence on me as I grew up; because I ended up working with explosives for most of the 35 years I spent as part of  the U.S. Manned Space Program community.  But, then that’s another story for another time.

Grandmother Lites at age 90

Grandmother Lites at age 90

—–The End—–


U.S. Space Walk of Fame

16 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


As two of the many workers on America’s Apollo moon landing program, Ron Spangler and Bill Lites were looking forward to attending the ground breaking ceremony for the Apollo monument at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame.  When completed, the U.S. Space Walk of Fame will honor the men and women who have been part of the U.S. Manned Space programs, from the first Mercury launch to the last Space Shuttle launch.


The ceremony took place in Titusville, Florida on July 16,1999 exactly 30 years to the second of the launch of the mighty Apollo/Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center.  This was the rocket that carried the Apollo 11 spacecraft, and the first men from Earth, to a landing on the moon.  The Apollo monument was the third in a series of four planned monuments making up the U.S. Space Walk of Fame.  Astronauts Wally Schirra and Gene Cernan were among the honored guests, and more than 300 attendees were on hand to commemorate this special event.  As part of the ceremony, a bronze bust of President John F. Kennedy, who originally challenged our nation to what became the Apollo Lunar Landing program, was unveiled.


The first of America’s Manned Space vehicles was the one-man Mercury capsule that carried a succession of American astronauts on missions into Earth orbit to prove man could live and work in space.

4a    4b


Next in the progression of space vehicles was the two-man Gemini capsule that carried additional American astronauts into Earth orbit where they practiced space vehicle maneuvering. This involved rendezvous and docking procedures with various target vehicles.  In addition, space walks were performed to test space suit design and function.



The Apollo project used the mighty Saturn V launch vehicle to carry American astronauts in the three-man Apollo space capsule and the two-man Lunar Landing vehicle to the moon, where Neil Armstrong and Buss Aldrin were the first humans from earth to set foot on the moon.



The Space Shuttle was America’s 7-man reusable space plane that was used to assemble and serviced the International Space Station, and perform many other important manned space missions.  This was truly an International venture.




The Hubble Space Telescope along with countless military and scientific satellites were placed in Earth orbit using the Space Shuttle Orbiter.


So it was that Bill and Tom were there with the many others, that day, who came to the U.S. Space Walk of Fame ceremony to represent the nearly 300,000 dedicated men and women employed by NASA and a variety of contractors from all over America, who toiled to make the United States Manned Space Program a reality for the world to see and appreciate.  What a great feeling of satisfaction and pride each of those workers deserves to have, as a memory, for the rest of their lives.

Food Truck Bazaar

27 Sep

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


We  had a big event come to our small town Monday night, the Food Truck Bazaar. Living in a small town my closest encounter with a food truck was the hot dog stand at Lowe’s home improvement store or at the Catholic Church fair so I was very excited.

The Bazaar set up at one of our local parks on the river and it was one of those wonderful Florida Fall evenings with a nice breeze from the river. We arrived shortly after it began and I knew it was going to be big when we had to search for a parking space. Since this was the first time the bazaar had come to our town, they only sent ten trucks and they were parked in a circle and painted in a variety of colors and each offered different foods; the smells were incredible. Among the vendors, each powered by a generator, was my favorite, Cuban food. Also available were Southern food, British food, a coffee van, a cupcake truck and some others whose names I can’t remember. All except the cupcake truck had long lines.  In keeping with my motto, “when in doubt eat dessert first.” I headed straight for the cupcakes. I shared a s’mores with my daughter and it was truly Yum Yum which is the name of the vendor. I’m glad we went there first, the truck completely sold out, 1,900 cupcakes.











It was a fun time, people brought folding tables and chairs, and families were everywhere. Most amazing was the after effect. Food Truck Bazaar has a Facebook page and it was rocking with comments. The enthusiasm was over the top. Thanks were given out to the local folks who set up the event, photos were posted and comments were flowing. Our town has been hard hit by the end of the Manned Spaceflight Program. It was great to see our community laughing and sharing a spirit of camaraderie, we are already looking forward to the next one.


Learn more about The Food Truck Bazaar   http://goo.gl/b1zEU

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