In America the Skys the Limit

vintage image 1950s car in outer space

Neil Armstrong was the very embodiment of American Can-Do-ism .

Crossing the finish line in the Cold War Space race, his one small step for man went a long way in establishing him as a genuine American hero who we remember today.

It’s hard to imagine but there was a time when our formidable space prowess wasn’t always assured.

Today I take a look back at the fall of 1957 when our nascent space program was just beginning.

In America You’re Ahead For Keeps

Mid Century Americans were the most envied people on the planet.

You couldn’t help but stand and admire us. Running rings around all others, no other country so accented the march of new ideas. With more bounce and zoom in every step, we could run faster, jump higher and win more often.

Labor Day came early  September of 1957  and the halcyon days of summer came to an abrupt end.

Getting back to business, sun burned Americans were fired up, racing in their sensational Strato-Streak V-8 engines towards the future. Flush from a supersonic summer in a race to bust barriers, America was rocketing on all tubes![1]

The autumn air fairly crackled with competition as the best and the brightest rushed back to their drawing boards.

vintage ad illustration men smoking 1950s

From coast to coast the wizards of the wonderland of American laboratories were busy producing magic, providing us with everything that was new and exciting, setting the pace for never-before-such-important-advances.

In Detroit, the masterminds at Ford Motors were about to unveil the newest member of their fine family of cars, the Edsel the guaranteed most exciting out-of-this-world-car design in 20 years, so distinctly different, it would blow away old notions of what an American made car should be.

Meanwhile, Army engineers in Huntsville were feverishly working their fingers right down to the bone in a heated race with the Navy and Air Force vying with one another to develop a wonderful new kind of pulse stirring power that would leave all others behind …  intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Here were the ICBM’s that were bound to come and leave all others behind.

While over at Cape Canaveral, brainiac engineers and physicists in wash n wear suits had their collective noses to the grindstone laboring over the much heralded Vanguard Satellite.

Never, no never before had such an American-made-miracle won such instant acclaim.

Here was the rocket that was bound to come and leave all others behind. Surging with the power of the atom, gleaming like great silver bullets, it would be ready to launch early next year.

The rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air would announce to the world that-Goodness gracious great balls of fire- the Space Age had begun, confirming America as the dyna-power leader .

Whether in rockets, refrigerators, or roomy four door sedans all decorator-dream-come-true–fashion-forward-colors, in America, you’re ahead for keeps!

All Shook Up In Outer Space

Sure as shootin’ it would be America who would steer us into the heavens, braving the dangers of the cosmic frontiers, protecting the liberties of the other planets.

So it came as quite a shock when one October day, out of the clear blue sky, we had been bested by the Russians with the launching of Sputnik,

In this freedom loving land of good n’ plenty, one thing we had plenty of was confidence, but that darn beeping satellite streaking across the autumn sky quickly trounced our formidable pride.

[1] Called Project Bullet, Major John Glenn USMC flying faster than a round from a .45 caliber pistol made history as the first supersonic flight across America, catapulting him onto the radar for the first class of Astronauts.

Copyright (©) 2012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear family

One comment

  1. It is amazing what man can do any more. we have had the John Glenns and Neil Armstrongs, now whenis the curtain going up on the next act.


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