A model rocket from the 1958 Science Fair. (T-G file photo)
It's Jan. 24-25 1958 at the Science Fair. As the sun shines through the windows of Central High School's cafeteria, a "space-age" exhibit catches the photographer's eye.
Randall Faulk and Ed Craig (the photographer didn't identify which one's pictured, but that mystery will probably be solved quickly), seventh-graders in Mrs. Clarence Robertson's science class at Shelbyville Junior High School, built this model of a U.S. satellite.
Space was a big deal in 1958; NASA's Huntsville facility had sent up some display items for the fair as well.
I've picked up the impression the Huntsville operations were more heavily promoted in surrounding cities in the late 1950s than they are now, based on what I've seen in our negative files and old newspapers. We've got photos of the 1959 Veterans Day parade which included, I think, an actual rocket brought up from NASA.
Finances are tight now and I realize space flight isn't one of today's priorities. But I sense a can-do optimism and positive outlook that once existed in our nation, fueled to a large degree by such things as space exploration, has slowly fizzled. We need something similar to rally around again.
Added note: At the top center of the photo, partially obscured by the sunlight but still visible, are the upper bleachers left over from the cafeteria's days as Central High's gym before what's now Central Memorial Gym was built in the mid-1950s. I wonder what it was like watching a ball game in that gym.
Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.