race to space
When people think of going into space, most of them think of the “Race to Space.” John F Kennedy (1917-1963) who served as the 35th President of the United States, was president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, and the beginning of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. The race to space was his pet project, but he was not the first person to think about it. I think you would be very surprised to find out who the first person to propose space travel.
The first proposal for space travel in English history was made by Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law, John Wilkins 1614-1672) a theologian and natural philosopher, who married Cromwell’s youngest sister Robina. Wilkins was a polymath of great learning and curiosity, and would be one of the founders of the Royal Society. In two books he explored the possibility of “flying chariots” to carry men to the moon. He believed, as did many others, that the moon and planets were inhabited, and that we should meet these people and trade with them. People were anchored to the earth by a type of magnetism, and if it were possible to reach an altitude of just 20 miles, travellers would be free to fly, or rather sail, though space. Breathing wouldn’t be a problem as the astronauts would soon grow accustomed to the purer air breathed by angels. Of course, we now know that the problem with the “air” in space was the lack of it, not the purity of it.
Apparently, Wilkins experimented in building flying machines with Robert Hooke, in the gardens of Wadham College, Oxford, in the 1650s. Some years later, however, with growing understanding of the nature of vacuums, he realised that space travel was much more complicated than he had first expected. I suppose it was a letdown in his philosophers mind, but the conclusion was inevitable, because as we all know space travel, while definitely possible, is not easy. It takes much scientific analysis and years of trial and error, but while it was not as easy as Wilkins thought it would be, he was on the right track after all. Nevertheless, Wilkins was not well known for his futuristic vision. While his Cromwellian connections reduced him to poverty after the return of the monarchy, Wilkins’s fortunes were gradually restored and he ended his life as Bishop of Chester.
Many things changed on the day, Jennifer Schulenberg Parmely, my sister-in-law, was born. No, it wasn’t something that she or her parents did, but rather in the world. On this day, April 12, in 1961, the year Jennifer was born, the world saw it’s very first manned space flight. That was the day that the Race to Space ended with Russia putting the first man in space. That man was Yuri Gagarin. The United States had hoped to win that race, but we were not ready to put our first manned space flight into space for another month. I’m sure that all this meant nothing to Jennifer, or her parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, but it is, nevertheless, a historical fact, and it happend on the day she was born.
Jennifer grew up, and became the mother of three boys, Barry, JD, and Eric. There was hope that she would have a daughter, but that was not to be. It seemed to be some kind of tradition in the Schulenberg family…at least with the grandchildren and great grandchildren. Whatever the first baby was, the others in that family were the same. The only one to break that tradition to date is my daughter Amy Royce, who managed to have a girl and then, shocker…a boy. All the others in the family have one or the other. That didn’t leave Jennifer much hope of having a granddaughter either, but Eric and his wife, Ashley broke with the boy tradition in Jennifer’s family and had two girls, Reagan and Hattie. They still kept with the tradition of what the first one is the others are too, however. Of course, there is always a possibility that they will try again for the boy, and maybe…just maybe, they will succeed like Amy did. Until that time, Jennifer is enjoying the little girls she never got to have, and that is very nice for her, because they are little sweeties, for sure.
Jennifer is a nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, and has worked there since she was just seventeen. She started as a Candy Striper, and after college, was hired in the Obstetrics department as a nurse. She has always loved newborn babies, and this way she gets to see lots of them, but the good news is that she can hold them and then give them back to their mothers, because as most mothers know, there is a time to have your babies, and a time to be the one to just spoil those babies and let their parents handle the fallout. It’s called being the grandma, and believe me, it’s awesome, as any grandmother will tell you. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!