Tuesday, May 19, 2020

SHE Had The Right Stuff

And so did most of the other circa 1950s astronaut's wives.  John Glenn's widow died 5/19/2020.  He preceded her in death by five years.  They had been married 73 years at that time.  They were high school sweethearts.  She graduated college in 1942 and they married in 1943.

Despite a stutter that encompassed 85 per cent of her speech, she was a popular athlete, classmate and had tons of friends.  It wasn't until she was in 6th grade that it became an issue.

Later, after she was married, she was ingenuous in being understood.  At home, she would compose a shopping list for food and household necessities by writing down a detailed list of goods to be purchased, show it to a store clerk and get what was needed.

It wasn't until she was 53 that the improvement that permitted her to campaign for John was established after a three week stay at a speech impairment clinic.   It began to go away, but she never thought she wasn't a stutterer.

During this period in the '50s, NASA encouraged (laid down the law more likely) the wives to push domesticity.  They were suddenly members of something called the Astronaut's Wives Club.   Brilliant (or not so) marketing efforts for domesticity gave the astronaut's a Corvette each, but the wives got to keep their station wagons.  A group shot of them for the Life cover had them all wearing a particular shade of red lipstick.  Post cover publishing, there was a rush across America for that same shade of red.

She became involved treatments for stuttering as well as other oral problems, raised their two children, ran the house, and to be tormented every time her husband was strapped into the seat of a rocket which had been made by the lowest manufacturer's bid. "Would she ever see him again?" wondered the wives of the test pilots and from which the astronaut's had come.

Pictures of her as a young woman reminded me of head shots of Amelia Erhardt - same boyish grin, short curly hair … she was a beautiful woman, but not a classic beauty.  Better to have the right stuff, don't you think?

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