News of the Week: Mission Control, Greasy Poles, and Norman Rockwell Wants You to Have a Beer

In the news for the week ending July 5, 2019, are vintage NASA, vintage New England shenanigans, vintage Olivia de Havilland, and much more.

Mission Control at Houston, Texas at the end of the Apollo 11. Nixon can be seen greeting Lance Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on a screen at the back of the room.

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Houston, They Fixed a Problem

Just about two years ago I told you about the money needed to help fix NASA’s Mission Control, which had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. I’m happy to report that, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, the control rooms at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, have been cleaned and updated. $3.5 million of the $5 million needed for the project came from the city of Webster, Texas. They even re-created the coffee mugs and the ashtrays used there in 1969.

This would be the perfect time to subscribe to the Post. Our new issue has a piece by historian David Brinkley on JFK, Neil Armstrong, and that race to the moon.

This New England Tradition Involves Grease

I live about a mile from where this event takes place, but I have never had the urge to participate. For one thing, I can’t swim. Second, I have an aversion to falling hard on a giant log and injuring myself. But many brave men try it every year, and it’s certainly entertaining to watch. The object is to get all the way down to the end and grab the flag before you fall off the pole. It’s part of the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, held last weekend.

By the way, here’s this year’s winner. His dad won it twice too.

If You Could Watch Only Five Movies for the Rest of Your Life…

…that would be really sad. Really, what kind of technological apocalypse would have to occur for one to only be able to watch the same five movies over and over again for the rest of their lives in this time of cable, streaming, Blu-ray, and the web? CNN is asking the question, though, as part of the promotion for their new summer series The Movies, which starts this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. It’s co-produced by Tom Hanks.

My picks? It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, L.A. Confidential, North by Northwest, and Three Days of the Condor. That’s my list today, anyway. How about you?

Frankly, This Is Good News

Before I get into the weekly “RIPs,” how about some good news about a celebrity? Olivia de Havilland turned 103 this week! She is the last surviving major cast member of 1939’s Gone with the Wind (though some of the children from the movie are still around).

RIP Lee Iacocca, Max Wright, Billy Drago, Luis Alvarez, and Tyler Skaggs

Lee Iacocca was one of the more famous businessmen in the world. He even did TV commercials. He was president of the Ford Motor Company for several years (where he played a big part in the creation of the Ford Mustang and the minivan) and then became the head of Chrysler in 1979, saving the company from bankruptcy. He died Tuesday at the age of 94.

Max Wright was a Tony-nominated actor best known as the harried dad on the ’80s alien sitcom ALF. He was also the owner of the coffee house on Friends (for a couple of episodes anyway), and appeared in many other TV shows, movies, and stage productions. He died last week at the age of 75.

Billy Drago appeared in tons of TV shows and movies, usually as the bad guy. He was in The Untouchables, Pale Rider, and Invasion, USA, and on TV you saw him in shows like The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (he was the evil John Bly), Charmed, Moonlighting, and The X-Files. He died last week at the age of 73.

Just two weeks ago, 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez testified in front of Congress with Jon Stewart to get more funding for the victims of that horrible day in 2001 and their families. He died Saturday at the age of 53.

Tyler Skaggs was a starting pitcher for The Los Angeles Angels. He died this week at the age of 27.

This Week in History

Battle of Gettysburg Begins (July 1, 1863)

Here’s how the Post covered the historic battle, from illustrations to firsthand reports from people like Louisa May Alcott.

Spam Introduced (July 5, 1937)

That’s the often-derided luncheon meat in a can, not the often-derided emails in your computer.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Iced Tea (June 30, 1951)

Iced tea ad from the Saturday Evening Post.

Apparently iced tea has the power to cure everything that ails you, including stress and pressure. This ad doesn’t really tell you how, though. The proof is that it … helps you relax. Or something.

Summer on Ice

I don’t remember how I came across this video of Norman Rockwell suggesting that people drink beer during the summer, but I do know it took me a long time to find out what TV show it was from. First I figured out it was some sort of TV special, then factored in that Craig Stevens was the host (and he still looked rather Peter Gunn-age), and — long story short — I figured out it was NBC’s 1961 special Summer on Ice, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of Ice Capades and also featured Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Tab Hunter, and Tony Randall.

Beer helps you relax too, but in a completely different way than iced tea.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Kissing Day (July 6)

This is a fine day to celebrate, but if you’re thinking about kissing a stranger, ask first.

International Cherry Pit Spitting Day (July 6)

Since the acts of kissing and spitting a cherry pit are very similar, maybe you can combine the two days.

Major League Baseball All-Star Game (July 9)

The 90th contest between the American and National Leagues airs on Fox at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Featured image: NASA; Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

  1. Somehow I managed to leave out the fantastic Brian De Palma (original) 1976 classic ‘Carrie’ off of my “have to have” film list yesterday in paragraph two. Consider it there now, with a vengeance!

  2. Wow Bob, you live just a mile away from where this crazy ‘grease pole’ event takes place up there in Gloucester? It’s entertaining to watch. I certainly wouldn’t want to fall down onto a hard giant log injuring myself either. I noticed the music was from the old Dating Game show. Perhaps ‘Hey St. Peter’ from 40+ years ago by Flash and the Pan might have been better here? I don’t know, but do know you’ll love swimming once you learn. It’s a great full body workout that’s low impact.

    Not sure which five films I’d pick (for the rest of my life) if I had to narrow it down to that few, but I’ll try. ‘Sweet Smell of Success’, ‘Some Like it Hot’, ‘North By Northwest’ ‘Network’ and the original ‘Vacation’. Other choices could include ‘Play Misty For Me’ and ‘Westworld’ (with the one and only Yul Brynner; not the recent junk using the name!)

    Congratulations to Olivia de Havilland on turning 103 this week. Amazing woman. I really hope things got straightened out between her and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Ms. Jones did her best as an actress and fan of the revered legendary actress in Ryan Murphy’s ‘Feud’ to portray Olivia in a flattering manner that would be pleasing to her, and it basically blew up in her face!

    Sorry to read Lee Iaccoca passed away, but he lived a long and remarkable life. Thanks for the link. I’ve read Henry Ford II was jealous of Iacocca as he was remembered for one of Ford’s greatest successes, the Mustang, and Ford II one of its biggest failures, the Edsel. Robert McNamara falls into his own category. Many disliked him for turning the two-seater T-Bird into the four-seater in 1958. The ‘Bird’s sales skyrocketed, and stayed lofty until that run ended in 1997.

    I read some of the ad copy in the ice tea ad from 1951. VERY well written, but no amount of iced tea will ever turn summer into my favorite time of year. The Brewery ad featuring Norman Rockwell is wonderful, and I’m glad it helped him (and millions of others to this day) to relax.

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