An Apollo 11 Scrapbook

Some of the pages from the Apollo 11 scrapbook I made when I was twelve.

Some of the pages from the Apollo 11 scrapbook I made when I was twelve.

My Grandma Newvine would save clippings from local newspapers and put them into scrapbooks back in the 1960s and 1970s.

That’s where I got the idea, when I was twelve years old, to collect stories about the mission of Apollo 11 that took Americans to the moon.

Back then, scrapbooks were nothing like what you might see now at a local crafts store.

The scrapbooks from my grandmother’s era were made with thick construction paper and cardboard covers. No stickers or 3-D accruements from the hobby store.

My scrapbook from 1969 includes articles from the days leading up to the launch from the Kennedy Space Center and into the first days of the mission.

All the clippings were from our daily newspaper from northern New York State: the Watertown Daily Times.

The Times arrived every evening, hand delivered by our paperboy.

The newspaper price in 1969 was ten cents.

Sprinkled among the clippings in my space scrapbook are articles about the preparations for the historic launch. There are several stories about the first two days of the mission as the astronauts were heading to the landing spot named the Sea of Tranquility.

Aldrin family Caption: Photos clipped from newspapers featuring Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and family.

Aldrin family Caption: Photos clipped from newspapers featuring Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and family.

There are plenty of sidebar stories.

I clipped pictures with captions featuring Buzz Aldrin and his family. There’s a photo of his son with a caption suggesting that the young boy may be the most popular child in school.

Barbara Aldrin, the wife of Buzz, is shown in a photo unfurling the American flag. Buzz is highlighted from a demonstration the astronauts did inside the orbiter midway to the moon.

I wonder whether I just favored features about Buzz Aldrin, or whether Neil Armstrong, who was noted for his desire for privacy, asked NASA to downplay stories about his family to the media.

There’s a small glossary of acronyms NASA used throughout the mission. In the days long before computer graphics, the paper had artist renderings of how the lunar module would separate from the command module for the moon landing and subsequent rejoining of the mother vehicle.

President Nixon’s phone call to the astronauts is the subject of one of the clippings, and there’s a story that reports NASA may move the actual first steps on the moon from 2:21 AM Eastern Time on Monday, July 21, back to a more viewer friendly time on Sunday evening.

And that takes me back to Sunday July 20, 1969

Newspaper diagrams of the Apollo 11 landing.

Newspaper diagrams of the Apollo 11 landing.

My family had planned to spend the better part of that Sunday evening at the Port Leyden Firemens Field Days in my hometown. The mix of rides, games, and carnival food was a big part of the summertime tradition.

When we learned the actual walk on the lunar surface would take place on Sunday evening, the Newvine family left the field days earlier than in previous years.

We went home, gathered around our television set, and watched the coverage.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong’s words were about as clear as a voice on a long-distance phone call. The image of his stepping on the lunar surface was hard to make out in black and white. But there was no doubt both Armstrong and Aldrin made it.

Astronaut Mike Collins orbited the moon until it was time for Neil and Buzz to reconnect and head home.

I couldn’t wait for the next day’s newspaper to arrive so that I could begin clipping the stories of the moonshot.

There is was in glorious black and white: mankind’s great achievement. We were eyewitnesses.

Photos from the local newspaper that were clipped for my Apollo 11 scrapbook.

Photos from the local newspaper that were clipped for my Apollo 11 scrapbook.

The scrapbook stayed with me for all the moves made after I graduated from college and went out on my own.

The covers were lost somewhere over the past five decades. The scotch tape that held the clippings had long lost its’ stickiness. The pages from the actual landing and subsequent return to Earth are missing.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll never forget how the US race-to-the-moon ended.

The scrapbook was my “Google” of the moonshot several decades before we ever heard of search engines.

The Apollo scrapbook belongs to me, but the idea of keeping up a collection of articles about this historical event came from my Grandma Newvine.

Thank you Grandma.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

He wrote two books about his hometown of Port Leyden New York: Growing Up, Upstate and Grown Up, Going Home. Both are available at Lulu.com

Sidelined by a Sidewalk- How a Simple Fall is Taking Me Off Track This Summer

Where my fall took place in north Merced.

Where my fall took place in north Merced.

I won’t be playing golf for a while.

A fall on a north Merced sidewalk on a recent summer Sunday morning has taken my activity down a few notches.

There we were: one moment taking in the serenity of a walk together. The next moment changed everything.

Immediately upon hitting the ground, pain shot up from my foot to my hip. I felt numbness in the first minutes following the fall.

The thought that I might suffer some paralysis actually crossed my mind.

My wife was with me and as soon as she felt I could be left alone, she went back to our house to get a car. By the time she returned ten minutes later, I was standing and walking slowly.

During the wait, three motorists passed by me as I was writhing in pain.

No one stopped.

She took me home, and took care of me for the next couple of days. Slowly, walking became easier.

After a couple days rest, some over-the-counter pain relief medication, and treatments of heat and cold to my upper leg, my doctor confirmed our earlier diagnosis.

I suffered a severe sprain of the upper thigh.

But for the next few weeks, I am what you might call sidelined. No daily runs in the morning Merced sun.

Golf might resume when it stops hurting as I take my driver stance. I resumed work after a day-and-a-half sick time. I hate taking sick time.

This longer shot of the street shows at least two other spots where excessive water may pose a safety issue.

This longer shot of the street shows at least two other spots where excessive water may pose a safety issue.

It’s easy to blame myself for not being fully aware of my surroundings.

I slipped on a light layer of sidewalk mud before several years ago. While the earlier fall was not nearly as severe as this latest one, I dropped my guard and did not anticipate a safety hazard.

Whoever is responsible for watering that particular section of grass should share some responsibility. There are no homes directly on the street, but rather a cul-de-sac divided by a wall.

According to the City of Merced, watering is permitted on Sundays. Their website reads: “Addresses ending in even numbers may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Watering is allowed before 9 a.m. and/or after 9 p.m. on those days.” The houses across the street had odd numbers.

That would make the side I was on the even side; meaning the sprinklers should not have been on.

But regardless of whether this was the correct day use irrigation, the water in this section was clearly on longer than it needed to be. If mud forms on the sidewalk, water may be forcing dirt from the grass to the pavement.

No one is suing anybody. I hope to continue making progress so that I can eventually resume my daily runs and weekly golf outings.

I sent an email to the City telling them about my concerns. I got a prompt response telling me they would look into it.

They followed up a few days later.

They also directed me to a new app called Merced Connect, available at Google or Apple Playstore, where citizens can report things like the water issue and follow the progress on these issues.

But I urge everyone to check into areas where irrigation systems push dirt onto sidewalks. Adjust the watering times if necessary. Be a good neighbor.

I’ve already forgiven whoever was responsible, especially me. I’ve also forgiven the three motorists who passed by me when I was on the ground and nearly in tears with pain from that fall.

And every morning, I get into my golf stance. Once I can swing without pain, I’m back on the golf course.

It’s safer there.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His murder mystery Ten Minutes to Air is available at Lulu.com

Speed Dating with Community Information- Cramming Two Weeks of Radio Programming into One Afternoon

KYOS Audio Engineer Casey Stead checks microphones for two guests on Community Conversations. Photo- Steve Newvine

KYOS Audio Engineer Casey Stead checks microphones for two guests on Community Conversations. Photo- Steve Newvine

I welcomed the opportunity to fill in again for host Roger Wood for the KYOS public affairs program Community Conversations.

It was my hope that interviewing local people for a couple of hours might help me develop an idea or two for future Our Community story columns.

The segments were recorded at such a fast pace, that it felt like speed dating.

Eight segments, each running about nine minutes, are recorded at the KYOS studios during an afternoon session.

The segments are stacked to make two full-hour programs. With commercials and station announcements added to the stack, we walk out of the studio knowing that two hour-long shows are “in the can”. In broadcasting, that phrase means the shows are done.

The purpose of Community Conversations is to hear from local non-profits, government, and others about fund raising events, issues of concern, and services available to people.

The audience gets informed through listening to the weekly broadcast (7:00-8:00 AM Saturday).

As the fill-in host, I got my information first hand and crammed into a two-hour window as we recorded the interviews.

Community Conversations is public service program of KYOS, AM 1480, in Merced.

Community Conversations is public service program of KYOS, AM 1480, in Merced.

The person heading up the Atwater Fourth of July celebrations stopped by to tell us what’s new and different about this year’s event.

Atwater has been doing this since 1962, so there’s not much new. But the reminder was still worth the effort.

By the way, Fourth of July fireworks begin at Castle at dusk.

Admission is ten-dollars a carload.

(Details at Atwater4thofJuly.com)

Merced’s Police Chief once again sat behind the guest microphone.

He offered an update on how the City’s illegal fireworks enforcement will roll out this year.

Two representatives from the Merced County Historical Society described the upcoming exhibit Shaping Justice: A century of Great Crimes in Merced County.

The exhibits are always interesting, and this one sounds like it will be in that same category.

Three of the guests touched on the importance of STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math curricula.

Each interviewee came from different organizations and each highlighted summer enrichment events. But as the interviews unfolded, I couldn’t help but see the connection as they described how these programs continue in the direction of more science, technology, engineering, and math for our students.

One guest, from the Merced County Office of Education, added an “A” to form the acronym STEAM.

The “A” is for arts. The other guests were from Merced City School District and Merced Union High School District.

A photo from my first guest host radio stint in early 2019.

A photo from my first guest host radio stint in early 2019.

Two UC Merced professors chatted about the Extension Program teacher training offerings available to local educators.

The pair, now in their third decade as a married couple, brought some variety to the usual format of host talking to guest.

It was a refreshing mix of guest talking to guest and then talking to host. Speaking of variety, we broke with the regular format again with a monologue by yours truly. I spoke to the audience about my writing of this column and the ten books I’ve written over the past decade.

I read from California Back Roads and Stand By, Camera One.

The City of Merced’s Assistant to the City Manager discussed upgrades to Applegate Park, and a local band leader rounded out the interviews to tell listeners about a big band concert soon coming to the Merced Theatre stage.

It was a jam packed afternoon as KYOS audio engineer Casey Stead recorded my interviews with these local folks.

The content for Community Conversations is assembled with the help of the public information departments of the City of Merced, County of Merced, County Office of Education, and host/producer Roger Wood.

I just happened to be the lucky fellow who spoke behind the microphone on a warm summer afternoon.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His new book Stand By, Camera One is available on Lulu.com and Amazon

Ben, the Birdhouse Man of Merced

On most Saturday mornings in the Savemart parking lot in Merced, you might find a man selling birdhouses and dog houses from the back of his pick-up truck.

Ben Franco shows his handmade birdhouses to me. Photo: Vaune Newvine

Ben Franco shows his handmade birdhouses to me. Photo: Vaune Newvine

Meet Ben Franco, a retired truck driver who has turned his spare time into productive work.

He builds birdhouses that are now in dozens of backyards throughout Merced.

When Ben retired, he traded in his trucker’s log book for a workbench.

He spends many hours every week designing, building and selling bird and dog houses. “It gets me out of the house,” Ben says about his pastime.

Ben has a lot of stories to tell about his birdhouses. He says the folks at Savemart know he’s out in their parking lot and he says they don’t seem to mind.

“This keeps me busy,” he says.

Keith Visher of Merced buys a birdhouse for his mother from Ben’s selection on the back of a pick-up truck. Photo: Steve Newvine

Keith Visher of Merced buys a birdhouse for his mother from Ben’s selection on the back of a pick-up truck. Photo: Steve Newvine

As well as keeping himself occupied, Ben experiences the joy of knowing a customer is buying a well build birdhouse.

One of those customers is Keith Visher of Merced. I came across Keith and Ben on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Keith was looking over the selection before picking out the perfect birdhouse for his mom.

“Mom had two birdhouses,” Keith told me. “Summer weather destroyed the one in the backyard, and the one in the front had seen better days.” Keith paid Ben twenty dollars, and was on his way.

Ben Franco is a walking time capsule with stories about his military service. Photo: Steve Newvine

Ben Franco is a walking time capsule with stories about his military service. Photo: Steve Newvine

Before working as a truck driver, Ben was in the military and stationed in Germany in 1957 and ‘58. When I asked him about his time in Germany, he took a few moments to tell me a couple of stories.

“One day when we were off duty, a friend suggested we fly to Spain. We did and when we landed, we were questioned by the French police because we were in uniform. The police officer asked me my name and I told him ‘Franco’. He got real serious with us because of General Francisco Franco.”

General Franco was the Spanish dictator at the time. After a few tense moments with the French policeman, Ben and his friend were on their way.

Another interesting story from his service days that came to Ben’s mind was when he and his buddies recognized actor Jack Palance. Ben says the actor was not pleasant to the soldiers. Palance at first refused to pose with the uniformed soldiers for a photograph.

“He was there with his wife,” Ben said. “She pulled him aside and after she talked to him, he came back to us and said he’d stand next to us for picture.” Ben laughs, “We told him never mind, we don’t want a picture anymore.”

Ben’s selection of dog houses and birdhouses change as some are purchased and new ones are finished. Photo- Steve Newvine

Ben’s selection of dog houses and birdhouses change as some are purchased and new ones are finished. Photo- Steve Newvine

Ben says it takes him a little over an hour to assemble each birdhouse.

Dog houses are larger and require a little more time. He uses pieces of lumber and other building material he has acquired over the years.
For Ben, building and selling birdhouses gives his retirement greater meaning. He enjoys seeing a satisfied customer.

He’s a happy man, even if he is doing it in part to get away from his spouse’s honey-do list.

“My wife will find me something to do around the house if I’m not busy,” he says.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His latest book, Stand-by, Camera One is available on Lulu.com .

79/19-40 Years of Life on the Job

In front of the Brewster/Boland dormitory at Syracuse University in May 1979. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

In front of the Brewster/Boland dormitory at Syracuse University in May 1979. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

Milestones have always been easy for me to write about.

The basic format is to find a point in time that goes back in multiples of five years, recall what how I felt about it then, and end with what I feel about it now.

Okay, maybe there is a little more to it than that when recalling milestones.

Forty years ago this month, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, began a career in television news, and started four decades as a working professional.

My parents and me at the 1979 college graduation held at the Manley Field House at Syracuse University. Construction was already underway on a domed stadium that continues to host both football and basketball games at SU. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

My parents and me at the 1979 college graduation held at the Manley Field House at Syracuse University. Construction was already underway on a domed stadium that continues to host both football and basketball games at SU. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

There was a lot of stuff going on in the weeks leading up to graduation. In April, I ended a ten-week internship with a television station. Copies of a video audition tape of stories I reported during that time were being sent to stations all over the eastern United States in hopes of landing a job.

During the week of finals, I had an interview with station WICZ in Binghamton. The news director seemed impressed with the audition tape, but the station was still another two weeks away from making a decision.

My first paying job in television news was at WICZ-TV in Binghamton, NY. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

My first paying job in television news was at WICZ-TV in Binghamton, NY. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

One week after graduation, the job was offered and accepted. For the next year and a half, I reported news, anchored newscasts, hosted a daily public affairs segment, and even tried my hand as a substitute for the station’s hunting and fishing feature.

Along the way, I got the opportunity to work on the local segments of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon and helped call the play-by-play for a local tennis tournament.

Work buddies from WAAY-TV in the early 1980s. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

Work buddies from WAAY-TV in the early 1980s. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

I also got married during that time and accepted posts at four other television stations over the next fifteen years.

Two daughters also arrived during that time. At that point, the press card was retired. I made the transition to the next career of running chambers of commerce in three cities.

Chambers help local companies succeed by providing networking opportunities, presenting training programs, and advocating on behalf of the business community before local and state government.

A 1998 photo with business owners on one of many local advocacy trips to the state capitol in Albany, NY. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

A 1998 photo with business owners on one of many local advocacy trips to the state capitol in Albany, NY. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

After thirteen years of meeting government officials, creating programs to foster leadership, and handing out dozens of plaques honoring business owners, another opportunity crossed the path.

The current job combines the experience from the two previous careers to help local governments lead their communities toward greater energy efficiency.

It’s been a pleasure to honor local business owners who lead the way in their communities.

Handing out awards honoring local business people who are making a difference in their communities is all part of my current role. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

Handing out awards honoring local business people who are making a difference in their communities is all part of my current role. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

Along the way, most of the spare time has been put to use to keep writing as a big part of my life. There have been about two-hundred columns posted to this website and about a dozen essays published in local newspapers in California and New York.

Thanks to a fellow attendee at a workshop in Fresno thirteen years ago, the discovery of on-demand publishing helped produce a few books along the way.

I am humbled by the acceptance of my writing efforts. It has been an amazing four decades as a working professional.

There have been many highs, a few challenges, and an incredible number of great people that have crossed my path.

It’s amazing to think that the journey started just a short forty years ago.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His latest book, Stand By, Camera One is available at Lulu.com and through Amazon.