Jim Lovell 2005 -- Custom Signing
at Novaspace Gallery
Jim Lovell has steadfastly refused to sign autographs for several years, for any price. In April 2001 and November 2003 he did special signings at Novaspace. Response was overwhelming.
He will only sign autographs at this signing. He accepts no mailed autographs from us, or anyone else, at his office.
Capt. James Lovell just missed the cut to be one of the Original 7 Mercury astronauts. He was among the first chosen of the "New 9," the second group chosen in 1962. His first flight was the long-duration Gemini 7, which set the record for days in space (14) and also completed the first rendezvous with Gemini 6 in 1965. He commanded the final mission, Gemini 12 in 1966.
Holding the record for the most time in space, he was chosen for Apollo 8, the daring first manned flight to the moon in 1968. Although Apollo 11's first moon landing gets more press, it was Apollo 8 that won the space race for America; a gutsy and flawlessly executed mission that provided the momentum and confidence NASA needed to complete the Apollo program, after the lows of the Apollo 1 fire.
And then there was Apollo 13...
Jim keeps a hectic schedule of appearances and lectures. He often helps out at Lovell's of Lake Forest, the popular upscale restaurant where his son, James III, is chef.
Jim Lovell arrived at the gallery late due to a plane delay at about 5:00 p.m. He was very pleasant, at home (his third visit here)and happy to be here and he said "Let's get to work." So we went back into the signing room where everything was prepared.
Jim sat down, Stef fed him the photos with instructions, and he signed for about 4 hours. We had several models and model bases, two Lithium canisters, and the usual assortment of photos, posters and flat items. Then fatigue and hunger started to set in, so we went to dinner.
Our favorite Mexican retaurant is Club 21, not far away. We had a Mexican dinner that couldn't be beat, and some large margaritas (Jim had a Corona and beef enchiladas). We talked about flying and his restaurant business, Lovell's of Lake Forest. Jim's wife Marilyn (not present) had suggested he called the restaurant the wrong name, said it should be named "Speeches" because that's what paid for it.
We talked about flying also, and as it turns out there are only 5 Apollo-era astronauts that still fly; himself, Gene Cernan, Frank Borman, Bill Anders and John Glenn. Three Apollo astronauts - Lovell, Borman and Cernan all fly the same plane. A twin engine Cessna 421. Jim even facilitated the buying of Gene Cernan's plane when he saw it in Waco. He said that getting insurance was very difficult at their ages, but as he told his wife "It's either a plane or a mistress."
After dinner, we took him to his hotel and picked him up early the next morning to finish signing. At the end of the signing, we took the "Cphotos", which are individual photos for COA's, and then had lunch here. After lunch, we surprised Jim with a birthday cake with 11 candles. He is 77 on the 25th of March. The 11 candles were for "dog years" and to save his breath. 77 candles would've been a fire hazard!
After the cake, we picked our teeth, and shot the bull for an hour or so. We visited his website; www.lovellsoflakeforest.com, and talked about business in general, our kids, and such. I asked him a question that had been bothering me: Whether if he'd landed on the moon and Jack Swigert had received orders from Houston to "stir the tanks" and the blow out that happened while he was alone in space, whether he could have lifted off from the moon in time to get back home or even save Jack. He said "No, in fact, if we had had the explosion, at any time before or after, we'd have never gotten home. It happened at the most fortuitous time."
Early in the afternoon, Sally and I took him back to the airport and bid him goodbye. Jim shook my hand and said, "Thanks for another great event."