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Posts Tagged ‘40th Anniversary’

LEM

LEM

Anyone who grew up in America in the ‘60s must find the present state of space travel a major disappointment.

It was the year Harley-Davidson merged with AMF, the cool movie was Easy Rider which portrayed hippies who rode choppers and Neil Armstrong walked/bounced on the moon.   Forty years ago the crew of Apollo 11 squeezed together over an eight day period and a half-million mile journey to place a plaque on the moon that said “came in peace for all mankind.” I was a child, but like others of my generation, I fully expected there to have been massive space stations orbiting the earth and colonies on the moon by now.

What a rush the space race was. Using German WWII rocket technology, both the Americans and the Russians innovated like mad to launch the first satellite in 1959 (Russia’s Sputnik); to put the first person in orbit (Russia’s Yuri Gagarin in 1961); and finally the first person on the moon (Armstrong in 1969). Clearly lunar bases and spaceships in the solar system was expected by the Twitter-first century, right?

In reflecting about the time and place I realized my path is connected.  Sort of a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing.  First were the years I lived in El Paso, TX and my father worked at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).  He spent 1968 in Vietnam working with Hawk Missiles, but on his return to Texas they were involved in some Apollo testing.  I didn’t fully know or understand the significance at the time.

And later like many who graduated from college, I joined the electronic masses at Tektronix.  In 1980 Tek sold the Patient Monitor business to pharmaceutical conglomerate Squibb (a.k.a., Vitatek) and I moved into the healthcare arena.  Squibb was on a buying frenzy of medical devices and services so it was anticipated to be a good career move.  Little did I know what it would be like working with Carl A. Lombardi (CEO) and his not so interesting view of business.  The next year Vitatek merged with Spacelabs Medical (originally out of Chatsworth, CA).

Spacelabs was co-founded by Ben Ettelson and James A. Reeves in 1958 for the express purpose of working with NASA and the U.S. Air Force on systems to monitor the vital signs of astronauts in space.   The company manufactured and delivered prototypes of miniaturized signal conditioners which measured astronauts’ temperature, respiration, and cardiac activity. In July 1969, just days after Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission , NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center ) honored Spacelabs Medical with a certificate of appreciation for its “outstanding” contributions to the Apollo Program—contributions which proved vital for the Nation’s goal of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth.

When I worked at Spacelabs we adapted the technology it originally developed for NASA for the first bedside arrhythmia-monitoring system which allowed physicians to view real-time arrhythmia data, at the patient’s side, for the first time.

Congrats to Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on your 40th anniversary and historic return to Earth with moon rocks!

LEM Photo from a visit to Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama.

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Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

Elvis Presley - 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH

This month marks the 40th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s return to live concert performances in Las Vegas in 1969. 

It had been 8 years since Elvis last performed a live benefit concert in Honolulu, his first post-Army appearance, and after 8 years of recording sessions at American Studios and movie making he started his record breaking engagement in July of 1969. When he opened at the International Hotel for a four-week, 57-show engagement, it broke all existing Las Vegas attendance records.  At the time it was the largest showroom in Las Vegas, holding more than 2000 people.

elvis_enthusiastYou don’t have to drink the Elvis cool-aid to know he enjoy Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Elvis became a lifelong bike enthusiast and was a member of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).  Sometime in 1955 after earning a regular income he purchased his first H-D.  It was a small ’56 ST165.  Your basic entry level model with 165cc that was sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Harley Hummer.

In January 1956 he bought a new Model KH from the Memphis H-D dealer and in May of that year he appeared on the cover of Harley’s The Enthusiast magazine riding that ’56 KH.   The ’56 Model KH was 54ci (883cc) side valve motorcycle and the precursor of today’s Sportster which was released in 1957 with an overhead valve motor.  After just a few months Elvis moved up to a larger motorcycle when he purchased a 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH.  At the time The Atomic Powered Singer wrote: 

“Elvis bought his new Harley on November 1, 1956 while he was in downtown Memphis to have his Continental Mark II insured. Later in the day Natalie Wood, clad in jeans, climbed up on the seat behind Elvis and they gunned out from the Audubon Drive driveway and roared around the Memphis streets for three hours accompanied by a motorcycle policeman and Nick Adams, who was riding Elvis’ old Harley Davidson.”

Elvis Presley passed away August 16, 1977.   CKX continues to market and TCB for the “King”.  To commemorate his passing Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) and Graceland H-D are offering to sale five special edition 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide with Elvis imagery at $50,731 each.  Buyers will be treated to a unique bike delivery experience in Memphis during Elvis Week and can participate in the various Elvis rides.

I might be in the Vegas/Laughlin area later this month and will let you know if there are any Elvis “sightings.”

Photo courtesy of H-D Enthusiast Magazine and photographer Ted Bruehl.

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