Tag Archives: NASA

Three Steps to Live the Best of Life

30 Apr

Walking by Faith, Not by SIght

Janet Perez Eckles

Reblogged May 1, 2022

April 29, 2022

Some years back, a sweet surprise waited for me in the airplane trip to Mexico. I settled in the seat beside the window, folded my white cane and stuffed it in the pocket of the seat in front of me.

Shortly after departure, the flight attendant made his way down the narrow aisle handing immigration forms. “One per family please,” he said.

After the initial announcements ended, I reached up and pressed the light to call for assistance.

“Could you please help me fill this out?” I asked the flight attendant who answered the call.

“Sure. Come with me.”

I gathered my purse, my bag, and my cane and followed him to the front of the airplane.

“You can sit here,” he said.

I settled in the seat, spacious and comfortable. I stretched out my legs, plenty of room. We finished the form and he asked if I wanted to stay in that seat. I was in first class.  “Are you kidding?” I said with a silly grin, “Sure, would love that.”

Unexpectedly Delightful

After I stretched out like a queen, I began to compare. Rather than getting the medicine-size cup of water I would get in the other section of the plane, I got a fresh, cold bottle of water. Rather than the tiny bag of peanuts, I got my choice of appetizers. The trip was, well, unexpectedly delightful.

In the airplane of life, I had made that same transition. When sighted, I took tiny doses of happiness. Sampled a bit of peace now and then, received only a taste of fulfillment and tiny amounts of joy. I was stuck in second-class happiness.

You might also find yourself there on occasion. During this ugly pandemic, you might have felt stuck in that same second-class kind of world. The chaos around, the uncertainty ahead, the troubles from all sides planted you in the section where the best is not served.

But Resurrection Sunday is almost here. The majestic event shouts the truth that Jesus is alive. Not only alive, but He’s holding His hand to guide you out of the coach section of gloom into the first-class of His glory. The glory not just reserved for heaven, but for right now, right here.

When you accept His offer to occupy that seat in the VIP section of His love, the journey is secure. Even when facing painful turbulence, nothing can shake you. No event can rob your peace. No adversity can remove your security. He’s the pilot. He has the navigation of your journey in His hands. And He expects your every worry to leave your heart and be placed in His instead.

During the long journey, worry will not come back, fear will die and stress will vanish. They will because when we remain in the VIP section of God’s will, we welcome the best of life as we:

  1. Change our perception. Recognize we don’t find happiness; we create it. We craft it by turning the key to unlock our heart and receive the joy God offers. His desire is that we live in complete joy. And when happy moments, happy relationships, and happy results come to an end, joy remains.
  2. Celebrate the promise God gave. During tough moments, painful stages, it’s not our strength, but His power that lifts us up and carries us through. Relying on that guarantee is what revives joy once again.
  3. Call upon Him when sadness, gloom or fear draws near. Calling the powerful name of Jesus silences destructive thoughts of self-pity, loneliness and discouragement. With them out of the way, joy will glow again.

Happiness ends in time. But joy lasts as long as God’s love. He promised: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11).

Let’s Pray

Father, not human happiness, but your joy is what my soul hungers for. Thank you for the promise, thank you for the joy that fills my days no matter what comes my way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What will keep you in the first-class kind of life?



A Note From Onisha: As I was uploading Janet’s post, I was listening to a fascinating podcast about a future cure for retinal blindness. As you may know, Janet’s blindness is due to a retinal disease. A plus for me is that the experiments for this cure are being conducted in the zero gravity of space! Here is the link, Houston, We Have a Podcast.

I invite you to dance with me—celebrating one of my books, “Contagious Courage: A 30-Day Journey to Overcoming Stress and Anxiety.” Get your copy HERE and tell your friends, too.

Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.

CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.

Looking for a speaker for your upcoming event? A great speaker makes the difference between a so-so event and one that shines with impact. I invite you to view one of my two-minute videos HERE.

Please share: Feel free to share Janet’s posts with your friends.

Let’s connect:

Janet Eckles Perez

Some say she should be the last person to be dancing. Her life is summarized in this 3-minute video: http://bit.ly/1a8wGJR

Janet Perez Eckles’ story of triumph is marked by her work as an international speaker, #1 best-selling author, radio host, personal success coach and master interpreter. Although blind since 31, her passion is to help you see the best of life.


The Contractor~Part 2

13 Jan

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Cross Plane

That program was conducted from Launch Complex 25C/D on the Cape Canaveral AFS and ended in 1979 when I was laid off with most of the rest of the test organization. It was during this time that I had taken and passed the General Contractors test and received my license. Once I obtained my license, I began working part-time with my contractor friend on some of his new house projects.   Luckily, it wasn’t long after Lockheed had laid me off that MacDonald Douglas Aircraft Co. (MDAC) found an opening for my talents, on the night shift, supporting their Delta II program. At that time the Delta II program was being used by NASA and the U. S. military to place their satellites into Earth orbit from Launch Complex 17A/B located on the Cape Canaveral AFS. The night shift job with MDAC allowed me to start a small contracting business of my own, making for some pretty long days.


My part-time construction company was a family affair. I was President and the main go-fer; DiVoran was Vice-President and the company’s new house interior decorator; while DiVoran’s father and mother, Ivan and Dora, acted as the company bank. We all worked very well together at this little construction business.


We would buy one residential building lot at a time. Then, using sub-contractors, we would clear the lot and build a 1500 sq. ft. 3-bedroom, 2-bath, concrete block home with a 2-car garage on speculation. The housing market was good and if the house sold before we finished it (which sometimes happened) the buyers could choose their finish trim, paint colors, carpets, cabinet styles and appliances. Prospective buyers had an allowance for these items, and if they wanted more expensive items, they would pay for any added expense over the allowance.

Typical Cross Section of Concrete Block Construction



We could complete a house in approximately 3 months, which allowed us to (theoretically) turn our investment over with a 10% profit with the sale of each home. In spite of the long hours, I loved this job and was gearing up to do it full-time as soon as my job with MDAC was over. In addition to “Spec” houses, as word got around that our homes were well built and available, we began receiving orders for custom houses that we would build on the owner’s property. Those contracts turned out to be the most troublesome, as it was fairly common for the owners to change their minds about certain aspects of the building process at some of the most inopportune times.


A typical day during this time was; up at 7:00 am, breakfast with DiVoran and the kids, then I was on my way to the current job site. I would put in as many hours as I could on a job site coordinating sub-contractor activities or meeting with potential home owners and bank Loan Officers. Then there were always the multiple runs to the local lumber yard to pick up that extra box of nails, another sheet of plywood or another dozen 2”x4” studs to keep the job moving forward.



Depending on the weather and the progress of the job, the sub-contractors would usually shut down their work day around 3:00 in the afternoon. This allowed me to make it to Launch Complex 17 on the Cape by 4:00 to start my 8-hour shift. After surveying the work schedule and any work related items, and if things in the office was not too busy, I could sometimes get in a phone call or two before it got too late. Good thing I was young and indestructible, as this routine didn’t allow a lot of time for sleeping. Luckily, by the time I got home at 12:30 am, I was really tired and had no trouble going right to sleep. This routine was also very hard on the family life. Breakfast time with DiVoran and the kids before they went to school, and occasionally (if I could manage it) for a short time after they got home from school, was about all the family saw of me, except for weekends.



—–To Be Continued—–



3 2 1 Lift Off or Not

4 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

This has been another busy week and I want to apologize to my friends who blogs I usually visit. Three of Rebekah’s novels have been involved in sales this week and has kept me glued to my computer. Also, a Facebook group I am a part of held a three-day Facebook party and I agreed to be a moderator. That means I spent time on the party page, making sure everything flowed smoothly and that our guests arrived on time. Actually, it was a lot of fun and I won several books and an audiobook.

Today was a change of pace. Rebekah and I arose early and headed out to the Indian River to Space View Park to watch the launch of the next generation space vehicle, Orion. The launch was scheduled for somewhere around 7:05 am

Sun rising over the Indian River

Sun rising over the Indian River

When we arrived, somewhere around 6:45am the sun was just coming up over the horizon and the crowd was on its feet and excited, but there was something missing-noise. In the past, multiple radios could be heard, giving out updates and people stood chatting with strangers. Today all I saw was people on their phones, watching on live stream or a NASA stream. I had my phone out, tweeting and sharing photos on Twitter. It was fun seeing people from around the world talking about it, but what happened to talking to the person next to you?

The launch was delayed due to a boat being in a restricted area and the countdown was put on hold until the boat cleared the area. The countdown began again and was stopped repeatedly for either wind or mechanical problems and ultimately the launch was scrubbed.

photo 2There was an amusing tidbit that came out of the morning. Down in front of us a man was set up with a portable TV, an antenna and a booming voice. As each event occurred he would shout HOLD or FOUR MINUTES and eventually the dreaded word SCRUB. Having grown up listening to “The Voice of NASA”, it gave me a chuckle to think the very serious and professional voice had been replaced in this new era of space flight.

Since the sequel to Rebekah’s book Jessie will take place and possibly begin in the shuttle era of the space program, she and I will be up early  tomorrow to try again. I plan to tweet less and talk more, BUT if you are on twitter look for my tweets @iluvscoops.


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The Best Job I Ever Had~Part 3

29 Oct

A Slice of Life

By Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Bill Lites


One of the largest assignments I was responsible for was the 1st /2nd stage separation system. This system was used in two places on the S-II stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle; to separate the first stage S-IC from the second stage S-II, and again 30 seconds later, to separate the protective S-II Interstage from around the S-II engines. The S-IC and S-II stages were both 33 feet in diameter, so the test fixture used to test the full scale separation system was massive.



The test fixture was designed to lift a simulated section of the separation plane off the ground so that when the explosive system fired, the lower portion could be photographed while it fell to the ground. This was the closest we could come to simulating the actual event, and we learned several important things from these tests that would drive the final design of the separation system itself. The first thing we discovered, was that the originally designed charge assembly would warp as it was unreeled from the installation spool, making it difficult to keep it lying flat on the tension plates it had to cut. Next, we found out that any amount of water between the charge assembly and the tension plate would diffuse the cutting ability of the explosive. The Los Angeles fog taught us this fact. This happened when we installed the separation system one day for a full-scale test the next day, and when the fog rolled in that night, the moisture ran down the stringers, onto the tension plates, and collected in the “V” of the shaped charge in several places. The final design consisted of a vinyl wrapped charge assembly that kept the moisture out of the cutting area, and a retention system that held the charge assembly tight against the tension plates. The manufacturer of the charge assembly also supplied a disposable holder that kept it from warping as it came off the installation spool.



This separation system did not use a large size explosive charge, but because it had to cut the 216 tension straps around the 103 foot outside circumference of the vehicle, it ended up being a large explosion. After the first three tests, we had to move the entire test fixture to an El Centro desert facility because of complaints from the local Downey, CA residents.


After finalizing the ordnance systems testing for the Apollo and Saturn S-II vehicles, I was transferred to the NAA Field Operations Group and moved to Florida in 1965 to be one of the Field Test Engineers responsible for the processing and installation of many of those same ordnance systems I had tested in California. My job now was to write the procedures for, and supervise the processing and installation of, these flight ordnance systems on the Saturn S-II launch vehicle that helped boost the Apollo Astronauts and their spacecraft to the Moon. What a thrill it was to be able to watch that giant 363 foot high Saturn V launch vehicle lift off, in all its glory, and see those systems work as they had been designed and tested. But of course, as it turned out, that job wasn’t near as much fun as the job of blowing up those system test specimens back in the early days at the home plant (Will I ever grow out of being a kid?).



You may have seen the picture below or a video clip of it in an Apollo documentary or an advertisement, but this was the S-II Interstage falling away from the S-II Stage booster 30 seconds after separation from the S-IC stage, which occurred during each Apollo/Saturn V launch from the Kennedy Space Center.



Most people have no idea how many unseen systems have to work perfectly, and in the proper sequence, during any rocket launch. I still get thrilled every time I watch a video of one of the Apollo/Saturn V launches, and see each of the many ordnance systems function as they were designed. And, it’s gratifying to know that I played a small part in that historical program to place the very first men on the moon.






—–The End—–


The Best Job I Ever Had~Part 2

22 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites



I would design and have built any test fixtures required. Then I would coordinate with the various support groups necessary for each test. In most cases, the specimen would have to be tested in at least the three realms I mentioned (high temp, low temp, vibration) to verify that they would function under those conditions. This meant the Ordnance Design Engineer had to have at least three of his system specimens built and supplied to the Test Group for testing. It was something to be able to blow up these various test specimens when they worked as designed, but when they didn’t, and the Ordnance Design Engineer had to take the mangled pieces back to his office and his drawing board, to figure out how to make the system work properly, it was rather sad for him. You might have heard the old saying, “Well, it’s back to the drawing board.”  Well, that’s just what he had to do. This would go on until the system was perfected and the test results satisfied the original/modified system designed acceptance requirements. Of course, everyone had their own critical time schedule that they were working to, and any delays caused by malfunctions or unexpected test results only added to the pressure each group involved would feel.



Many of the system specimens we tested were small, which made them easy to setup and test. They included mostly self-contained fuse assemblies and guillotine type cutters, used for cutting such things as parachute shroud lines, etc. The guillotine cutters used pressure cartridges to instantly force the cutting blade thru the lines. The reason most of the explosive systems used on the Apollo Spacecraft and the Saturn V Launch Vehicle had to be self-contained was to prevent damage to the vehicle in which they were located.


For example, one of the main explosive systems used to ignite solid rocket motors was Confined Detonating Fuse (CDF). This was a small flexible lead sheathed explosive core wrapped in alternating layers of plastic and fiberglass weaved cloth. This allowed the explosive train to be routed thru various parts of the vehicle to the rocket motors, or other explosive devises, and still confine the explosion. Then there were the parachute mortars, which were used to deploy the various parachute systems during spacecraft re-entry.  The diagram below shows an example of how CDF was routed and connected for use on a retrorocket system.


There were also various methods of separating the multiple components and stages from each other. All of these explosive devises had to work as designed and exactly when required to insure specific component and overall mission objectives.


—–To Be Continued—–

Meet My Blogger Friends and a Chance to Win a Prize

5 Aug

My daughter Rebekah Lyn’s  new release Jessie is traveling around the blogosphere visiting with some of our friends. I thought it would be fun to re-blog some of them here. Be sure to click the blog title to visit their blog and tell them Onisha sent you!

Blog Tour Graphic copy


July 22, 2014 Shanna Hatfield’s Blog

Shanna was the first stop. She shared an excerpt. Be sure to click above to read the whole post.


Chapter 3

May 5, 1961

The call of a blue jay screeched through the open window, jarring Jessie from a dream. He rolled onto his side, rubbed his eyes, and pushed up on his elbow to look out the window. The sun hadn’t risen above the orange trees yet so he guessed it was about six. Spotting the offender on a limb not forty feet from the window, he wished he had his shotgun nearby.

“Jessie, you awake?” Ricky whispered from the upper bunk.

“Yeah,” Jessie muttered, pushing the thin sheet back and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Ricky dropped down from the bunk above, his eyes glittering.


July 22, 2014 Stop Two Faith Blum, Writings, Ramblings and Reflections

Faith was kind enough to read and review Jessie! Visit her site to read the whole review.

My Review

When I first signed up to be part of the blog tour for Jessie, I was thinking that the book would be a nice, easy read with some good historical information about the time Jessie lived in and that would be that. Boy was I shocked to find out just what kind of book it was. Rebekah Lyn took her book and made each and every character seem truly alive. I wanted to meet all four of the Cole boys just so I could actually see them in person. I wanted to take Mr. Cole by the scruff of his neck and tell him to shape up and fast before he completely lost all respectability


July 27, 2014 Third Stop Author Brooke Williams Blog

Brooke is a new friend we met through DiVoran Lites. She interviewed Rebekah. I liked this question and answer! She is in the middle of her own blog tour so visit her site and learn more about her.

We’d love to hear a few quirky facts about you they don’t usually come up in interviews. 

I am mildly obsessed with my garden, particularly my lemon tree. I visit the back window several times a day just to look out and admire it. I enjoy watching birds visit my feeder, but I don’t want them getting close to me. I had a bad experience in an aviary years ago that has made me skittish when birds get too close. I have a particular path I follow when shopping at Target and get anxious if we stray off that path.

August 1, 2014 Fourth Stop Sara B. Gauldin’s Blog Segbwrites

This stop almost didn’t happen! I forgot to send  the information to Sara and she graciously forgave me and posted it anyway. Be sure to visit her blog!

The tea sounds like it was a great success. Aside from writing do you have any future plans and will tea be a part of them?

Yes they are! The dream I have for my future is moving to the mountains of North Carolina, which I love, and opening my own tea shop and bakery. I would run my tea shop from April to November and spend all winter writing,-bringing together the two things I love most and seems to take me back to those days of watching Aunt Virginia in the kitchen, pouring out her heart to make others happy.

August 5, 2014 Fifth Stop Annie Douglass Lima’s Blog

Rebekah finds writing a conversation far easier than an interview so she chose to create an “off the record”  conversation among the Cole brothers. There is a hint  in the interview of a problem one of the brothers will experience. If you have read Jessie, comment below  and be entered to win, a lovely bracelet we are making.

Afternoon with the Cole Boys

Max, Ricky, and Sam snaked through the underbrush, arriving at their fort ten minutes after the final school bell rang. “How long you think Jessie is gonna keep going to these tutoring sessions?” Ricky asked.
“Until he’s caught up and his grades improve,” Sam replied.

“It was more fun when he didn’t care about school and we could all hang out together. I miss going hunting or fishing anytime we wanted,” Ricky said.


We have more stops coming up ! I will post them next Tuesday. If you  visit the blogs and   leave this  comment “Onisha Sent Me” you will be entered to win a digital AUTHOGRAPHED copy of Jessie!!

If you would like to enter for a bigger prize, take a chance on our rafflecopter giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some really cool stuff in this bag!

Some really cool stuff in this bag!


Apollo 11 and One Proud Mama

17 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Ok, I am going to come right out and say it, no finesse or beating around the bush. I am one proud 3d cover Jessiemama.  Jessie, the newest novel by my daughter Rebekah Lyn released yesterday.  She has written other three novels  but this one is special to me.  It is an historical fiction that covers 1960- 1969 and set in the town where she and her father were raised.  Even though she wasn’t alive during this time, through extensive research and conversations with locals she has managed to capture the spirit of the decade consumed with the race for the moon.

I was surprised when she chose four boys as her main characters. At one point during the writing process, she sighed and said “being a teen-age boy is exhausting.” Never the less, during the writing  process, each boy became a part of our family. I felt like she had given me four grandsons, but without the need to feed a teen’s ravenous appetite.

Jessie is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Smashwords. Visit her website for links.


Jessie already has some great reviews on Amazon. Click HERE if you want to check them out.

Thank you for stopping by and  sharing in my proud  mama moment. Of course as always giving thanks and glory to our wonderful Lord who inspires, sustains and opens doors we could never imagine. He even places people in your life like my friend Pam, with the talents you desperately need.

Oh, I almost forgot. Rebekah has been chosen to be a social media reporter on Monday July 21, 2014 and will be tweeting from Kennedy Space Center. I am not sure of the time, but I know it will be after 9am.  If you are on twitter, her handle is @rebekahlyn1

Our Trip to the UK~Part 5

1 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


Our Trip To The UK Part 5

By Bill Lites



Now we headed north thru Patchway, and then west, across the Severn River, into Wales.  After passing thru Chepstow and Newport, we turned north again to visit the Big Pit Coalmine Museum near Blaenavon, in South Wales.  Because DiVoran’s father had once been a miner in Colorado, when she was young, we thought a tour of a real coalmine would help us understand what he had endured back then.  This turned out to be one of the most exciting experiences that either DiVoran or I had ever had.  The South Wales Coalfield, of which the Big Pit was a part, was at the height of its production between the 1880s and 1920s.


During the Great Depression of the 1920s & 1930s, the British coal industry went into terminal decline. The reduced demand for Welsh coal, and the increased competition from abroad placed an enormous strain on the industry.  A series of pit closures in the 1970s & 1980s had additional damaging effects on many communities that had, for many generations, relied on mining.  The Big Pit, Blaenavon’s last coalmine, closed in 1980.  It was opened as a museum in the late 1990s, and has gained in popularity ever since.


It was amazing to be lowered into the mine on the same elevator, and explore the same tunnels, that had been used by miners for generations.  One of the most fascinating areas, was the horse stalls, where the horses were kept, when not in use to move the coal cars around in the mine.


The tour guide told us that the horses were only taken up to the surface once a year, and that they would run, jump and kick until they wore themselves out, just to be free of their confinement. It’s hard for me to see how they could ever get those horses back into that mine, once they had experienced a short period of freedom like that.


When we finished our tour of the Big Pit Coalmine Museum, and returned to our car, there was this guy cleaning the car windows.  When I ask why he was cleaning our windows, he said he was raising money for his men’s choir to make a trip to America the next year.  Well, I was skeptical, but DiVoran had heard of Welch men’s choirs, and wanted to know all about their choir and their trip plans.  He told us the closest they would be to us during their tour would be in Charleston, SC, and we told him we would put that date on our calendar to come to their performance.          


DiVoran told him that she had always wanted to hear a Welch men’s choir sing in concert.  After we all warmed up to each other a bit, he mentioned that their choir was rehearsing that evening, and invited us to come to the rehearsal.  We were thrilled to get the chance to hear them sing, and got directions to the church where there they would be practicing. The quaint town of Abergavenny, in Gwent, wasn’t far from the Big Pit Mine Museum, so we had time to look around some, and to still have time for a meal at the local pub, before locating the church for the rehearsal.



They called themselves “The Blaenavon Male Voice Choir”, and were known internationally. But let me tell you, these were some of the most warm-hearted men you would ever want to meet, and could they ever sing!  Even though it was only a rehearsal for them, and they had to stop and restart from time to time, it was still some of the most beautiful singing we had ever heard.   And, to think we were a private audience of only “two” for the whole performance!



Just as a note, when we got home, I told my sister Judy, and her husband Fred, who lived in Virginia at the time, about the choir tour and we planned to meet them in Charleston for the performance.  Then a week before we were to leave, I had to fly to California for an unscheduled Space Shuttle landing there, and was not able to meet them, for what they said was a marvelous performance.



—–To Be Continued—–


Happy New Year animated

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—–


Titusville Centennial Celebration

6 Feb

A Slice of Life

  Bill Lites



The year was 1968 and Titusville was celebrating its 100th year of founding anniversary.  The city had been growing from it 250 inhabitants, in 1886, and this was a festive occasion for young and old alike.



For the duration of the celebration, many of the local families dressed in period clothes to remind us of the era of days gone by.   All the men were instructed to wear beards and all the women were not to wear makeup if they didn’t want to be fined by the city fathers.






There were reenactments with folks in period dress and there were riverboat rides up and down the Indian River.



There were parades thru downtown, covered dish dinners on the grounds.And then there were street dances, buggy rides and hayrides, as well as fireworks.












At the same time, many of the inhabitants of Titusville were working day and night across the Indian River, at the Kennedy Space Center, preparing the world’s largest rocket to send men to the moon for the first time.  The East Central Florida area, with its Cape Canaveral rocket launch facility had been known, ever since the early 1950’s, as “America’s Doorway to the Stars.” Now NASA and its many contractors were on the threshold of fulfilling President Kennedy’s challenge, ‘To put men on the moon and return them safely to the Earth.’  The method for accomplishing that Herculean effort was the mighty Apollo/Saturn V moon rocket program that at the time encompassed over 300,000 workers nationwide.



It would be another year and a half before that historical event would take place, but the Titusville Centennial was a wonderful way for many of the Space Center workers to relax, during their time away from work, and help celebrate another memorable local event.







One of the most interesting events, during the Centennial Celebration time for me, was the unusual beard contest, which was held after the men had allotted time to grow and fashion their beards.  I can’t remember who won the contest, but it was amazing how some of the men were able to come up with the designs they did.

As it turned out, DiVoran and I were members of the Titusville Twirlaways Square Dance Club during the time of the Centennial Celebration, and much of the period costumes fit right in with our square dance outfits.






When our children’s school was out for the summer, a group of dancers from our club traveled to Fontana Village, NC for a week of square dance classes, round dance classes and relaxation.



It was a wonderful and fun experience, with morning and afternoon dance lessons, and then evening skits and dancing the new routines, we had learned earlier in the day.  Couples and clubs came from all over the Southeast to enjoy the camaraderie of a large group of people with the same interest.









And so, that was how it was for the many of us who were part of two of the most opposite events taking place at the time.  One, a small little-known town’s 100th Centennial Celebration and the other, the U.S. landing of the first men on the Moon, which was celebrated by many people worldwide.

2 Chronicles 15:7


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