Someday, My (Space)ship Or Space Shuttle Will Sail

The year: 1981. Pac-Man fever has incurably spread across the country. Both Mork and Mindy are still on the air. There are still pitched Battles of the Network Stars being fought on a yearly basis. The Sony Walkman has been on the market for a little under two years.

Oh, and Space Shuttle Columbia just blasted off for the very first time a couple of days ago, and is going to land very soon.

Now nearly six years since the last Space Shuttle lifted off, it’s almost unimaginable that a TV network would devote 3+ hours of wall-to-wall coverage to a perfectly ordinary Shuttle landing…except that this was the first time that a Shuttle returning from orbit ever came in for a landing. Every American space mission before this sunny April day in 1981 had ended with a splashdown in an ocean. But not this one.
[Via] Golden Pacific Media

It’s a slice of history, like a time machine: the first manned American space flight in six years was a big deal. And while it had taken longer to get the Space Shuttle airborne – on a scale of years – due to technical delays on the bleeding edge of new technologies, it had finally taken to the sky, something that looked more like a space fighter from a movie than it looked like a metal can with windows.

And perhaps most bittersweet of all, it had yet to let anyone down. The promises, made throughout the ‘70s ever since the Nixon administration had signed off on the Shuttle’s basic design, of routine, weekly flights to orbit, of a massive space station built by the 1990s that would be a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system…none of them had been broken yet. The reality of getting Columbia ready for her second flight hadn’t set in yet.

Nobody knew how difficult or costly it would be…or, just a few years later, how dangerous, as NASA tried to fly its fleet of Shuttles more and more frequently.

I remember watching the landing coverage at a friend’s house, the site of a spring break sleepover. He was ready to fire up the Atari, or go outside and kick a ball, and I wasn’t ready to budge. Like other budding space geeks who had grown up in a decade during which American astronauts had simply stopped going to space for years on end, it had all been building up to this – the lovingly illustrated National Geographic issue devoted to telling us what would happen “when the Space Shuttle finally flies”, the fleet of die-cast metal Space Shuttles that circled above the surface of the Earth (in my pockets), the plastic model kits of a non-fictional spacecraft that had never gotten around to flying…
Space Shuttle
(And yes, each one is actually a specific shuttle, in the order that I got them as a kid, and as such is sitting next to its name. The one with the tail cover is the Enterprise.)

For just a moment, the future was bright.

As of March 2017, we are now in a longer gap between spaceflights launched from American soil than the gap between the final Apollo mission (1975’s international Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight) and the first Shuttle launch. When the next crew of astronauts blasts off from the U.S., whether they’re aboard NASA’s Orion, or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, or something else, here’s hoping that my kids get that same sense of wonder – even if it’s a similar kind of naïve, momentary wonder – as I got from watching this: a moment where, in the future, anything could happen.

1966 Halloween - Ben Cooper

A Cub Scout 1966 Halloween Party Captured On 8 MM Film!

I do believe that after almost seven years with The Retroist I have made it clear I love Halloween. As well as movies and older film technology like 8 mm projectors. So when PlCary contacted me – telling me he picked up two 8 mm reels. I was interested, but then he told me one was a 1966 Halloween party, I was all ears.
1966 Halloween

Be that as it may, there was one problem. Phillip didn’t have access to an 8 mm film projector. Thankfully I could help with that issue and we agreed to meet up at the arcade. As I felt my co-workers would certainly want to see this bit of history.

However, as fate would have it, my 8 mm projector chose that moment to break. Under those circumstances you can understand how disappointed we were. Having said that though, Phillip was able to secure a projector all his own. One that I might add cost him the staggering sum of fifty cents!

So Phillip and I agreed to meet up again. Furthermore he had made sure to check the mechanical aspects and the bulb itself. All was good to go. In addition to the 1966 Halloween reel we would be able to watch something called “Kay’s Navy”.

On the contrary, it seemed fate was aligned against us one more time. I will let you take a look at the Bell and Howell projector yourself. See if you can spot what the issue might be.

Despite our best efforts of checking everything, the projector that Phillip purchased didn’t have the actual lens. In the light of this predicament I rushed home and stole the lens from my non-working projector.

In spite of all these difficulties we were able to overcome the obstacles at last. As a result we were totally treated to this Cub Scout 1966 Halloween short film. Furthermore both it and the “Kay’s Navy” were filmed at Grand Lake in Oklahoma, just about an hour and a half away.

It was an amazing treat for Phillip and myself to finally see the film.

The Cub Scout 1966 Halloween party was the real treasure although having said that we were all shocked at how well the film has survived.


Coupled with what looks to me to be a Ben Cooper or Collegeville skeleton costume it is certainly an undeniable pleasure. In fact if you look closely at the moment where the costume is shown there are vintage lunchboxes too!

Inside Atari

Celebrate Atari Day With This 1981 Inside Atari Promo Video!

Goodness gracious. I was so busy celebrating my Wife’s birthday that I neglected to share an Atari Day post! So let us celebrate a belated Atari Day by watching this 1981 promotional video entitled Inside Atari.
Inside Atari

This is most certainly a nice piece of history for the legendary company. By 1981 Atari had three separate divisions going full bore. They had their arcade division releasing titles that helped make the Golden Age of Arcades so memorable. As well as the home console division with the Atari VCS or 2600 as it became known once the 5200 was released a year later – which sold like hotcakes. Atari had as well at this point released the Atari 400 and 800 home computers.

Things were looking absolutely grand for Atari in 1981. Which is why Inside Atari was regularly seen at consumer electronic shows. To say nothing of course of aiding in the wooing of potential investors.
Inside Atari - Global Reach

In addition to Inside Atari coming across as a visual pep rally. There are some wonderful nuggets to be gleaned. For example in this screenshot you can see some rom chips for Defender, Pac-Man, Yar’s Revenge, and Graves Manor.

That last one is more than a little noteworthy as it is one of the four original names for 1981’s Haunted House !

Furthermore if you look quickly you can spy some interesting artwork on display. Like this piece for the port of Pac-Man. Which I might add I had not seen before until the release of Tim Lapetino’s stellar Art of Atari tome last year.

All in all Inside Atari runs about five and a half minutes. So obviously it will not be the most in-depth exposé on the workings of the company. It will however give you that perfect snapshot of the glory days of Atari as an entertainment juggernaut.

[Via] Dig That Box RETRO

I hope you enjoyed watching Inside Atari. But remember that every 26th of the month is when we celebrate Atari Day!


Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.


To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

Aint Gonna Eat My Mind

Aint Gonna Eat My Mind is all about Bronx Gangs in the 1970s

Aint Gonna Eat My Mind was a short documentary style program made for public television. It illustrates the struggles of growing up and dealing with the increasing violent world of the Bronx in the 1970s. This was a time when crime and gangs seemed out of control. But what was the cause? Did people facing it want a solution?

The answer was, of course they did, and “Aint Gonna Eat My Mind” attempted to give the young people trapped in this world the ability to speak to those outside of it. In addition to young gang members and others caught in the crossfire of this dangerous world, we also hear from the education side of things. We learn unsurprisingly, that it is difficult to get a cycle of education going when things seem hopeless due to an uncontrolled avalanche of crime, drugs and violence. And that if people want things to be different, something deeper would have to change. This is something that I imagine is still applicable over three decades later.

As a bonus you get to see New York City as it used to be. When I visit NYC now, it is hard to believe that this is even the same place.

Watch Aint Gonna Eat My Mind

If this history intrigues you, I would also suggest you check out the more modern documentary Rubble Kings. A much older Karate Charlie from Aint Gonna Eat My Mind also makes an appearance to offer insight in retrospect.

Avengers - British Pathe

Did 1961’s The Avengers Influence Real Life?

Ah, the gloriousness that was The Avengers. The program’s stories successfully mixed elements of Cold War with sci-fi. Furthermore like 1967’s The Prisoner it found a cult following when it reached the states. How could it not though? Especially when in 1965 it added the beautiful Diana Rigg as Emma Peel to the mix? A perfect foil in fact to the more proper gentleman represented by Patrick Macnee’s John Steed!

[Via] Route Master 19

While I was born a little too late to catch The Avengers in it’s original airing. I was lucky enough in High School to see the episodes that were played in reruns on A&E. I really fell for the show in a hard way. Even mimicking the clothing style of John Steed…to a degree. I certainly couldn’t afford to go to school in a Savile Row suit – but a trenchcoat and fedora would do in a pich. As well as a sturdy umbrella at my side and it was all too easy to play the part of the gentleman.
Avengers - Mr. Vic Sage

Of course back then I didn’t actually realize I was actually just a young Anglophile. But thanks to a video posted on Facebook the other day by RetroArt. It seems like some elements of The Avengers crept into real life.

Or is it actually real life elements being brought into that series? As this film for the amazing anti-thief security case was released on December 18,1961. So says at the very least, the British Pathe website.

It bears mentioning that John Steed didn’t start wearing his trademark attire until the 1962 season of The Avengers. Previously he actually wore a trenchcoat and acted as an assistant to Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry). Beginning in 1962 with a rotating trio of partners – Steed began to dress the part of the gentleman.
Avengers

Now make sure to hop on over to British Pathe site for the full “Beat the Bandit” video. In addition to learning things like the briefcase was named the “arrestor”. You will also see how well a steel lined bowler stands up to be driven over by a car.

Now that you’ve witnessed the inventions of 1961 possibly affecting The Avengers series. Why not take a moment and enjoy Macnee and his co-star, Honor Blackman’s “Kinky Boots” from 1964?

[Via] Lord Skytower