Gene Cernan 2005 -- Custom Signing
at Novaspace Gallery
It was good to see Gene Cernan walking through our gallery doors again, after more than two years. It was December 6, 2005. The last time we saw each other, at his home in Houston early this year, he was feeling poorly and uncharacteristically lethargic. He had undergone a heart bypass in the summer, but his recovery was longer than usual. He had undergone a second knee replacement the summer before, which was also an ordeal.
He complained that with the new metal in both legs, getting through security at airports was impossible. He'd have to strip down to his scars to convince guards he wasn't a risk. Pretty humiliating for the last man on the moon. Time-consuming, also.
Big-time collector and space historian Larry McGlynn had flown in from Boston to have some things personally authenticated by Cernan, but also wound up having Gene recollect line items on his Apollo LM abort checklist. It was fun to see his memories snap into place. We've never had much luck at getting him to explain old unused checklists. We just get an "I dunno-that was a long time ago."
Anyway, the Cernan-McGlynn session took most of the first evening so we got started early the next day on the signing. We had plenty of items from customers, but also didn't miss the chance to beef up our own stock. Cernan has passed Buzz Aldrin as our best-seller.
Cernan also brought some goodies from his collection of flown items from his three spaceflights, including the cassette music tape from the Apollo 10 flight, and his Apollo 17 "yo-yo," a spring loaded tool holder he wore on his belt during his three EVAs, and various checklists--stuff that will probably result in another tete-a-tete McGlynn session in the future.
Gene graciously posed for our "photo COA's" which have become increasingly popular with our signing customers. One in particular we also used for the regular COA's, had him hugging the large Saturn V first stage of the largest Estes rocket submitted by Reginald Justo.
Local CBS TV news anchor Randy Garsee, himself a Texas Navy man, stopped by the gallery that afternoon for a TV interview with Cernan. Randy's kind of a space nut, and it was refreshing to see a newsman ask intelligent questions. After the interview, he complained about signing his name "a thousand times" (see video), although, after a brief rest, he continued with still more.
Gene began to worry about making his flight with more than two hours left until his departure. He claimed it was about security, but I suspect he needed a cat-nap. He put on his coat, signed one more item, and left for the airport. Final destination: his ranch in the Kerrville hill country, where he planned a relaxing Christmas with his family.