Pat Shingleteon: "Joe Kittinger, Chores and the Charter Oak..."
On this date in 1960, Air Force Captain Joseph Kittenger attempted the impossible. Kittenger donned four layers of clothing and left New Mexico in a gondola attached to a helium balloon. No one before had ever ventured into space this way and Captain Kittenger’s flight plan included a trip skyward for 19 miles and a never before attempted jump back to earth. As temperatures dipped to 100 degrees below zero he soared to 102,800 feet and parachuted. Falling for four minutes and 37 seconds, his camera captured the curvature of the earth and the emptiness of space. At 14,000 feet his parachute opened and he landed safely on the desert floor. Another look back...Years ago my brothers and I would settle in to enjoy episodes of the “Three Stooges” on rainy summer afternoons. However the respite was short-lived when the soggy weather pattern advanced to the next day. The early morning began with the traditional hearty breakfast and with baseball games cancelled Mom directed us to seasonal chores of cleaning the basement, attic and garage. A large compliment of tools and lawn equipment were moved as the garage floor was swept. The basement was swept down, hosed down and straightened. Those were the chores then and except for the basement, it may be a chore for some this weekend. In closing, Dutch explorer, Adrian Block, described in his journal an unusually large white oak tree growing in a clearing on what is now Hartford, Connecticut. In the 1630s, a delegation of Native Americans approached the property’s owner where the tree was located. Intending to remove the tree, Samuel Wyllys preserved it because it was planted ceremonially for the sake of peace when their tribe first settled the area. Local legend states that in 1687 the cavity of the tree was cored to hide the Constitution Charter from King James II. At that moment it was renamed the “Charter Oak.” August 19th marked the 162nd year anniversary of the tree and on August 21, 1856 it was severely damaged by a fierce wind storm.
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