Manned Orbiting Laboratory MOL

In 1963 the United States Air Force announced that it would begin work on a project called the Manned Orbiting Laboratory or MOL, as it was commonly known.  The idea of the project was initially to determine the efficacy of putting American military personnel into space.  The cold war was near its peak and the United States and the Soviet Union were racing to get control of extra-terrestrial militarization zones.  As the project progressed, however, the mission became more focused on building a space station for military reconnaissance.  Eventually, by 1969, the funds for the MOL had dried up and then President Nixon pushed to cancel the program to cut back on spending.  The more visible NASA Skylab project would receive some of the funding instead.

On this past February 12th the PBS program NOVA ran an episode called AstroSpies.  Coming out of college in 1967 the MOL was the very first project that my father worked on at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York.  He was on the project from 1967 until its cancellation in 1969.  Dad watched the show when it aired, completely by coincidence because the show he was planning to watch was a rerun and he just flipped over to Nova, and even recognized one of the engineering models shown on the show as having come from his drafter!

The NOVA episode AstroSpies can be viewed online.  Dad was involved in the training of some of the USAF Astronauts as well.  He helped to train Colonel Albert Crews and Colonel Richard Lawyer.

February 20, 2000: Moving to Ithaca

And thus the adventure begins…

We all slept in a bit after the party last night. I have nothing going on today except for the drive from Greece to Ithaca. The truck was all packed and the apartment just needs its final round of cleaning before we turn over the keys and walk away from Rochester. Josh and Amber had already moved and were done with the place. Andy was heading back to his parents’ house, I believe, until he found another apartment. They aren’t very far away from Greece and just as close to where Andy was working in Brighton as we were up in Greece on Lake Ontario.

Andy was wrestling with his future plans all day I guess. As of this morning his plan was to keep working at the Wellesley in Brighton (right across from Monroe Community College) and to remain in Rochester. Nicklin Associates had offered him a position working on the Waste Watcher project that I was leaving to work on but he had decided that he wasn’t ready for it and didn’t want to move for such a risky project.

But as we were doing the final pack and inspection of the truck and were getting ready to start off down to Ithaca (Andy was driving my Buick down for me while I drove down in the rental truck) he decided that he had had enough of Rochester and wanted to set off on an adventure as well.  So he quit his job.  I can still remember him calling on the cell phone and getting Esther who was working at the time.  She was not happy about having to deliver the message to his boss.  We had been working at the same place but I had done my last day on Friday, if I remember correctly.  And off we were to Ithaca!

It was dark when we arrived in Ithaca and drove up the east hill on route 13 to look for Nathan Parker’s apartment where we were going to be roommates for the next month.  Nate and Bob Winans were there and helped us to unload the truck which was pretty full as I owned, even then, a significant amount of stuff.  In fact, I had much more stuff going into Nate’s apartment than he had had there before.  Luckily he had a two bedroom apartment but, once again, only one bath.

There was no space at all to deal with all of the furniture and computers that were pouring into the apartment.  We ended up using as much furniture as we could in the living room and putting the rest into the dining room and just counting that space as lost to us.  The second, smaller bedroom was used purely for storage and everything that could go in there did.  I just slept in the dining room on the floor and Andy slept in the living room on one of the couches.  For the first time in quite a while we had a place to actually set up my 32″ Sony Trinitron CRT television that I had bought when I first moved in to Greenleaf Meadows and had had no television of my own.

It was a very tiny amount of space for three people with so much stuff but we managed.  We had no real plan of how this was going to work long term or if it could at all but at the moment it was purely temporary.  Andy and I were only scheduled to be in Ithaca for exactly one month so we didn’t have to make it work for that long.  Then Nate would have the apartment to himself with my stuff all crammed into it as that was going to be stored there until we had a better solution for it all.

The apartment was on the top floor of the Gaslight Apartments on Uptown Road in Lansing very near to the Triphammer Mall.  The mall was just down at the end of the driveway which made a lot of things extremely convenient.  It really wasn’t too bad of a location and the price wasn’t bad at all.  Nate was teaching down at the middle school at the bottom of the hill so it was a really good location for him.

February 19, 2000: Last Day in Rochester

Today was the final day of packing the townhouse at Greenleaf Meadows in Greece where Josh, Amber, Andy and I have lived for more than a year.  It was a two bedroom, one bath townhouse – not the end unit but next to the end.  Josh and I had moved in in late 1998, I believe.  At the time it was just two of us and there was plenty of space.  It was a great apartment in its day.  The two bedrooms and the bath were on the second floor.  On the first floor was a tiny kitchen just as you entered from the front door and there was a very spacious living room where everything in the apartment happened.  Out back was a small patio.  There was a full basement as well with two rooms.  One we used for storage and the other we set up as the “computer room” with several computers set up all of the time.  The apartment was seriously wired for the time.  No one had anything like it back then.

Andy and I were working together and I had lost my driver’s license (too many speeding tickets) and he was driving me to work a lot (Eric was driving me around the rest of the time) so after his roommates, snmnmnm, gave up their apartment on Cypress Street in Rochester he decided that he would move up with us to save on costs.  It worked out well because we were able to share a room easily as we had plenty of space and we worked opposite overnight shifts at the same place.

A while after we had been living in the apartment Amber, who worked with Josh at the car dealership, moved in.  So we had four of us in the two bedroom place.  Had there been two baths it wouldn’t have been so cramped.  Having grown up in a house with my own bathroom since I was little this was a bit much for me.  It was here that I learned the importance of having more bathrooms that it seems like you would need.

Yesterday and today we were busily packing everything in the apartment.  The apartment was empty tonight with the moving truck sitting in the parking lot with all of my worldly possessions on it.  Tomorrow begins the adventure but tonight is the “empty apartment party”.  Josh and Amber had decided to take a one bedroom apartment directly next door to the townhouse and had been moving in all week as there was some overlap in their leases.  So they were already moved out and living over there in the new place.  Andy had no particular plans of where he was going but he wasn’t going to keep the townhouse by himself and he hardly owned anything other than his clothes.  He didn’t even have a car at this point since he had been driving me around in my white 1992 Buick Regal GS (with the moon roof option and red plush interior) for the past year.  We had decided to save money and just share the car.

In the empty apartment with nothing but folding chairs we threw our farewell to Rochester party – or at least my farewell to Rochester party.  We had a pretty good turn out although now I can’t remember who all was there.  Andy, Josh, Amber, Eric, Amanda, Dana, myself and definitely several more people were there although everything is very fuzzy as I write this almost eight years later.  I remember very clearly that Amanda and Dana were there (Amanda had come with Dana) because it was the night that Eric and Amanda first met (they were married some years ago now.)

The party went late into the night and almost everyone slept over crashing on the bare floors.  It was a brisk night but not so cold that people weren’t out on the back patio smoking much of the night.  I remember people going in and out the back door a lot back when people actually still smoked cigarettes.

One thing that I do remember was Andy and I sneaking over to Josh’s new bedroom window with a can of “spray on window ice” that makes windows look like winter and we made a smiley face on his bedroom window that remained for as long as he lived in that apartment.