Wild Blue Yawnder

As a wee lad I was president and sole member of The Astronaut Fan Club. It was a front, actually, to obtain countless booklets, brochures, photographs and signed letters from the Mercury, Apollo and Gemini astronauts and NASA support personnel (like “Shorty” Powers, the voice of NASA). I also “stalked,” as it were, X-15 pilots. In fact, I bombarded one of the heroic pilots with so many letters, he commanded me to stop.

Nonetheless, on average I posted four letters per day for over a year; after the first month or so, I was receiving two or more manila envelopes per day from NASA, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force. I amassed autographs from virtually all the Mercury Seven, which are preserved in cardboard boxes filled with mouse leavings.

This year, with the end of the space shuttle and talk of sending more probes to Mars, I thought it might be fun to exhibit what I collected. To my surprise, very few of the official NASA materials were well designed. There were the space-y looking items, but curiously, mid-Century Modernism hadn’t taken hold. This was the era of the famous NASA “meatball” logo, before being replaced by Richard Danne’s and Bruce Blackburn’s “worm,” when fifties perceptions and imaginings of the future were either rooted in the past or Disney-fied.

The images here are from the one 1962 booklet in my hoard that came close to modernity (the designer was not credited).

1962 Nasa Booklet

1962 Nasa Booklet

1962 Nasa Booklet

1962 Nasa Booklet

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5 thoughts on “Wild Blue Yawnder

  1. Sam Crowl

    Loved this post, what ingenuity, even as a child. Page 3 brought back memories of trying to wrap type around a circle by cutting the galley paper in little pie wedges with your xacto knife between each letter to be able to curve the copy but try and keep the letter spacing. Then putting the outer circle over it. I always cheated because I had to do my own negative work also so I just double burned the negs on a pin system. Pin systems that’s a whole other story.
    WOW FUN TIMES! ;-{)>

  2. Karl Hein

    Thank you for sharing! As a fellow “space geek,” I completely agree that there are actually very few (even to this day) NASA pieces that are well designed. I actually worked on a small design project for NASA’s Glenn Research Center and I was amazed at the creativity and ideas that were sacrificed for the sake of bureaucratic hullabaloo. Keeping archives such as this shows that NASA once inspired and amazed an entire generation, and I feel like they need to get back to that.