Formulating Footnotes: Week of April 16th

Good day, readers!

I have some exciting news regarding The oral history of Bob Gross (which I have been working on periodically since last October). Well, it’s finally uploaded to YouTube, meaning it is now available to the public for the entire history and archaeology loving community to utilize and enjoy!

Without further ado, here is the link to the video on the Brevard County Historical Commission’s official YouTube page: 

Bob Gross Oral History Video

I am so pleased with how this project turned out! It was a true team effort that involved many people contributing volunteer hours to make this into a truly professional and engaging production. Our library director, Jeff Thompson, worked tirelessly after filming to make sure audio levels, transitions, and inserted images all turned out right.

In that regard, I feel like this has been a great hands-on learning experience with working on a team to design and realize a creative project. I’ve certainly gained a lot of practical appreciation for the importance of communication and compromise in order to keep things running smoothly!

As far as my part turned out, it was a little strange to hear my own voice as interviewer at first…but I’m actually quite proud with how my interview skills held up! Putting in the time to consult with Bob and conduct pre-interviews really helped me prepare to put my best foot forward in the actual interview setting.

In reflection, I’m so glad I was able to take on a lead role for this project. Bob is a really fascinating and knowledgable individual, and I feel really fortunate to have been so involved with this project. (So if you’re reading this, thank you, Bob!)

If you haven’t been following this project’s progress up to this point, my responsibilities included:

  • Researching Bob’s life and Archaeology in Brevard County
  • Drafting Interview Questions
  • Conducting Pre-interviews
  • Serving as Interviewer
  • Editing the transcript for accuracy
  • Inserting and Consulting with Bob on Footnotes
  • Writing a Biographic/Informative Summary for YouTube
  • Uploading the project to YouTube

To learn more, I encourage you to check out these posts to which discuss Bob’s personal history and my work on this project in further detail: 

Recent weeks have mostly consisted of adding footnotes to the transcript to ensure the viewer has the most relevant information at their disposal. Typically, a transcript I work on may only have only a few footnotes to provide clarification and additional sources. However, since Bob Gross is a regular volunteer at the library with the Historical Commission, he has been able to provide me with countless pieces of information that I’ve been adding to the transcript to supplement and enhance the content discussed in the oral history.

My crowded workspace full of corrections and footnotes to be added to the Bob Gross transcript.

This process has involved a lot of teamwork between Bob and I to ensure the information presented in the transcript is correct. Bob possesses a wealth of information and insights, and I’ve been extremely grateful for his continued involvement with this project to make it the best possible representation of his life and experiences with archaeology in Brevard.

Working on an original oral history has been the most rewarding experience of working with the Brevard Historical Commission so far. I’ve greatly enjoyed working on uploading old treasures from the Commission’s oral history archive, but there has been something profoundly satisfying in producing an oral history from scratch. It’s been a lesson in patience, teamwork, and dedication, but I believe that it has definitely been worth all of the time and effort!

As soon as the footnotes are finalized, the transcript will be linked on the Brevard County website’s oral history page, found here.

I am hopeful I will continue to be involved with new oral history projects in the future!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Heather Pierce

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Black History Month: Week of February 26th

Happy Black History Month, everyone! As I continue to work on projects with the Brevard County Historical Commission, I was invited to attend the Black History Month Celebration at the Brevard County Government Center, which is organized by the Brevard County Government Cultural Diversity Team.

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For 2018, the theme of the event was African Americans in Times of War. The program featured numerous presentations that included personal stories of local members of the Armed Forces, a recreation of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, musical performances by local school children, and a short lecture on African Americans’ instrumental roles throughout American military history, from the Revolutionary War up through the present War on Terror.

The presentation was particularly moving because it had a strong focus on the local African American community. In accordance with this theme, the keynote speaker was Chief Master Sgt. Eugene C. Johnson, who was recently recognized as a 2017 Central Florida Humanitarian Honoree. Mr. Johnson has been a pillar of excellence in the community, serving as a Brevard Community College trustee and Chairman of the Board, as well as years on the Wuesthoff Hospital Board of Directors. Most notably, he created the Reginald E. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund Club, Inc., in honor of his son Reginald, who tragically lost his life in a training accident less than a month before graduating from West Point. The scholarship fund has given over 1,500 graduating seniors in Brevard County the opportunity to pursue a college education.

As far as our role at the event, the Historical Commission hosted a booth that featured historic newspaper clippings with articles on local African Americans involved in the military. We also brought a portable TV with DVD player that played several of our oral histories that feature members of the African American Community. I was particularly excited to help with this part of the display!

Overall, it was a great experience to get out into the community and see so many people interested in local history. We even had a display board advertising our Historical Commission’s YouTube page. I’m hoping that this event will bring more traffic to our channel!

If you are interested in learning more about African American history in Brevard County, I encourage you to take a look at the Black History playlist I created on our YouTube page here.

In other good news, I was also able to get the Evangeline Moore video transcribed and will be posting it soon to our YouTube page. This is an extremely important oral history for our community because it focuses on the Moore family. Evangeline was the daughter of Harry T. Moore, an influential Civil Rights leader who became the victim of a terror attack at his Mims home. Please check out this post, I made previously, where I discuss the Moore family in more detail.

Thank you for reading!

-Heather Pierce

Oral History Reflections

Hello, everyone!

So sorry to keep you waiting on updates for my interview with Bob Gross. The reality of such a project is that there are often lots of details to work out before it can be completed. Our library director Jeff Thompson has been hard at work putting together the footage he shot of my interview with Bob in October (discussed in detail in this post). The rewarding part of this experience is that the Brevard Library system has professional film editing equipment and software that allows for modifications to be made after the filming process. For instance, the photos that Bob has shared with me that correspond with various topics discussed in the interview have been digitized and embedded into the interview itself. This type of editing allows for a more dynamic experience for the viewer, which is very important in oral histories that frequently mention specific locations and people.

While I’ve been awaiting the finished footage to send for transcribing, I’ve been working on other miscellaneous projects for the Historical Commission. This includes a new project of transferring all of the newly edited oral histories onto DVD’s that will become a permanent, archived collection in the Central Brevard Library available for reference. It’s rewarding to see the all of the oral histories I worked on being made available to local patrons and researchers.

Creating new DVD’s with edited Oral History Files

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Creating new DVD’s with edited Oral History files.

This internship has continued to teach me many valuable skills that I hope to carry on to future projects. I’ve grown tremendously in my use of technology to preserve and communicate the history of my local community. In fact, I’ve found the marriage of history and technology to be a match made in heaven. At first I was worried about using these new programs, but I quickly found that expanding upon my technological skills has been equal parts challenging and rewarding.

I’ve learned video editing techniques in Adobe Premiere Elements, utilized digital file converting software, worked on editing professional audio transcripts, crafted biographical descriptions, and uploaded content to and managed the Historical Commission’s YouTube page.

This is all on top of the other useful skills I’ve had the opportunity to utilize including researching oral history subjects using databases such as Ancestry.com, ProQuest, and the physical collection of the county’s genealogical department. I’ve also utilized the microfilm machines and helped scan and organize important, local photo collections in the form of the Weona Cleveland collection.

Even creating and maintaining this WordPress blog has been a useful learning experience in basic web design and blogging techniques!

Most of all, I’m proud of my contributions to the Oral History project as a whole. At this point, I have worked on 30 oral history videos including editing footage, proofreading transcripts, writing researched biographical descriptions, and posting finished videos to YouTube.

To come full circle, the most rewarding experience so far was being able to research, create questions, and act as interviewer in an new oral history with Bob Gross. While I don’t have the video uploaded at the time of posting this update, I will embed the video link below as soon as it is available.

^ So please continue to check this page for updates!^

I continue to be grateful to my supervisor Mr. Michael Boonstra and the wonderful group of employees, volunteers, and patrons who help make my internship experience so educational and memorable!

-Heather Pierce

Digitizing Vintage Photos: Week of November 13th

Hello,

The past couple of weeks while we’ve been waiting on our library director Mr. Jeff Thompson to finish editing the footage of our oral history with Bob Gross, I’ve been helping with another project at the Historical Commission. (To read more about my original oral history project, check out this post!)

This ongoing project is scanning, editing, and archiving the photo collection of Weona Cleveland. Weona Cleveland is a local journalist and historian whose articles about Brevard County history first appeared in the Melbourne Times in the 1970s and later in the Florida Today newspaper. She first came to Brevard from Atlanta, Georgia in 1961 and has spent over 40 years writing articles and researching local history.

Some of Weona’s accomplishments include:

  • Writing for the Indian River Journal (A publication of the Brevard County Historical Commission)
  • Authoring several books including: Melbourne: A Century of Memories (1980), Crossroad Towns Remembered: A Look Back at Brevard and Indian River Pioneer Communities (1994), A Historical Tour of Melbourne (1999), and Mosquito Soup (2014)
  • Researching and writing the text for historical markers in Melbourne and Eau Gallie
  • Receiving the Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award from Florida Technical Institute for her research on Brevard County’s African American community

(To find out more about Weona Cleveland, including about her most recent work Mosquito Soup, please refer to this article on the website of the Florida Historical Society.)

The photos in her collection are now in the archives of the Brevard County Historical Commission. They span a wide range of time periods and subjects and are currently being stored in a series of photo binders.

My task has been to scan these images and edit them for resolution, contrast, and brightness. Since many of these photos are old while some are copies of originals, they have varying editing needs. Thankfully, most are able to produce high quality, digital images using the computer and scanner at the library.

The next task is organizing the photos into digital files with appropriate names to identify the subject of the image and any other pertinent information (such as dates and locations provided on the back of the photo).

While I’ve enjoyed working with the oral history video footage, I’ve found working with these old photographs to also be rewarding. I enjoy finding the right balance of contrast and brighting to create the best looking image. At some point in the near future, the Historical Commission will begin using a digital archiving software called “Past Perfect” to inventory and make the photo collections housed at the library available online. (Once again, the future is digital!)

Thus, the scanning and digital editing of these photos, especially the valuable photos in the Weona Cleveland collection, is a really important task!

I’m glad to change things up and get exposure to a new type of project at the Historical Commission while I wait to finish editing Bob Gross’s oral history.

Now, without further ado, please enjoy a selection of some of my favorite photos from the Weona Cleveland collection:

001 Eau Gallie Blvd. to Indian Harbor Beach looking South to Melbourne Causeway
Eau Gallie Blvd. to Indian Harbor Beach looking South to Melbourne Causeway
002 Melbourne Indialantic Bus Line Postcard
Melbourne Indialantic Bus Line
002 Nannie Lee's Strawberry Mansion, early 1900s
Nannie Lee’s Strawberry Mansion, early 1900s
004 Melbourne, US 1 and New Haven, 1950s
Melbourne; US1 and New Haven 1950s
005 Waiting for the Ferry (Possibly Melbourne Beach)
Melbourne Beach Pier
010 Melbourne Library
First Melbourne Library
021 U.S. 1 Near Site of Brevard Hospital looking North
Old Dixie Highway (US1) Near Melbourne Hospital
027 Possibly Hollis Bottomley with Friends ca. 1920s
Possibly Hollis Bottomley with Friends ca. 1920s
029 Plane Crash ca. 1920s
Plane Crash ca. 1920s
033 Chain Gang Oct. 10, 1924
Chain Gang 1924
038 First Public School in Melbourne, taken ca. 1898
1898: First Public School in Melbourne
040 Mayday celebration
Mayday Celebration
051 Melbourne Fire Dept. ca. 1929
Melbourne Fire Department 1929
053 Lee House AKA Lily Tidwell's
Lee House AKA Lily Tidwell’s
059 President Harding in Melbourne 1923
President Harding in Melbourne 1923
062 Melbourne Ave. Melbourne “School” band
Melbourne Ave. Melbourne High School Band

Continue reading “Digitizing Vintage Photos: Week of November 13th”

Finally Filmed: Week of October 23rd

Hello, readers!

The last couple of weeks at the Historical Commission have been very exciting for me. Why? Because I was finally able to take part in the filming of a brand new oral history! I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment that I was able to actively shape an oral history that will become a permanent part of the Historical Commission’s collection.

The interview was with Bob Gross, who I gave a small introduction to in my post: Endings, Beginnings, Turpentine and more: Week of September 25th.

In this post I will give you a more detailed look at Bob and the interview topics, as well as what the interview process was like for me.

Bob Gross is:

  • A past and present member of the Indian River Anthropological Society
  • A lifetime member of the Florida Anthropological Society, Board of Directors member, and Chair of an archive committee
  • A lifetime member of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference
  • Founding director and lifetime member of the South Brevard Historical Society
  • Past Chairperson of the Brevard County Historical Commission

Bob was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved to the Melbourne, Florida neighborhood known as the “Bluff” in 1958, when he was 7 years old.

The theme of this interview centers on the rich history of archaeology in Brevard and his lifelong involvement with the field.

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Bob Gross working at an archaeological site.

Bob’s interest in archaeology began when his boyhood neighbor, Frances Arnold Shave, told him stories about her life growing up in a cabin on a Native American mound near Malabar. These stories inspired Bob as a kid to investigate the mound. His enthusiasm was rewarded when he unearthed his first artifacts, an old, hand-wrought hinge and a pottery sherd.

Luckily, Bob still has the hinge in his possession and was able to bring it for the interview! Check it out:

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Bob Gross’s first artifact he found as a boy, an old hand-wrought hinge he discovered at a Native American mound.

Bob went on to participate in many archaeological groups and events during his youth. This included competing in an international science fair competition while attending Melbourne High School, apprenticing with archaeologist A.T. Anderson, and going on to study archaeology at the University of Florida, which he graduated from in 1973.

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Bob Gross as a boy with A.T. Anderson. at South Indian Field, 1964

A portion of Bob’s interview contains a synopsis of important archaeological events in Brevard’s history. This includes evidence of Native Americans themselves digging older sites, the destruction of shell mounds to pave local roads, the arrival of notable archaeologists to study important sites like the Melbourne Bone Beds, and even WPA projects designed to excavate local areas. I will encourage you to listen to Bob’s interview and reference his transcript once it is posted, as his explanation of Brevard’s archaeological timeline is much more detailed and compelling than I am able to write about here.

I will say that the Melbourne Bone Bed is particularly interesting because it is a paleolithic site that contains the fossilized remains of mammoth and other long extinct animals that lived in the area approximately 20,000 to 10,000 years before present day. Most interestingly, human remains were also discovered indicating that native inhabitants coexisted with Pleistocene animals towards the end of the period. This site even drew the attention of Frederick B. Loomis from Amherst College and James Gidley of the Smithsonian Institute, inspiring years of study.

Other topics discussed include the dangers facing sites today (such as looting, rising sea levels, and urbanization), Bob’s insight into the county’s responsibility regarding protecting local sites, and his impressive resume working with local and regional groups.


The interview itself was actually the easy part. In preparation for the actual filming, I had a lot of background work to do. Thankfully, Bob Gross is a regular volunteer with the Brevard County Historical Commission, and was even a former chairperson, so he was always around and ready to help with the preparation process. (Thank you, Bob!)

My tasks included doing a preliminary background interview, drafting interview questions, securing photographs from Bob to accompany the interview, and rehearsing my role as interviewer.

I’ve watched a lot of oral histories during my time working at this internship. Some have been really well researched and carefully filmed. Some interviews were done spontaneously and were less structured. It was important to me that I found a tone that struck a balance between informative and conversational.

When Jeff Thompson, the Director of Brevard County Libraries, arrived to act as our camera man and producer, I was a little nervous. It was hard not to be a little intimidated by the professional camera, lighting, and sound equipment. However, everyone was very friendly and excited to work on this project, which helped calm my nerves considerably!

The big surprise was when my supervisor and archivist, Michael Boonstra, encouraged me to go solo as the interviewer! I had expected to fulfill a co-interviewer role, but Mr. Boonstra assured me that my research and preparation would allow me to do fine on my own.

Thankfully, I think I was able to do a pretty good job! I was much less nervous than I anticipated once the camera started rolling. It seems that my preparation paid off!

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The setup of the interview. I (Heather Pierce) am seated on the right and Bob Gross is seated across on the left.
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Jeff Thompson checking the sound levels on Bob Gross’s mic.
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Bob Gross on camera on the oral history set.

The project is now in the hands of the talented Jeff Thompson, who will professionally edit the footage and prepare it to be sent for transcription. Once it’s at that step, I will take my normal steps to edit the transcript and post the video for everyone to utilize and enjoy!

  • I will post an update and link to the video on this blog once it is ready. I hope you will check it out!
  • I may be a little biased, but I think this video is the most interesting oral history I have had the pleasure to work with so far. I am very thankful to everyone involved in this process including Jeff Thompson, Michael Boonstra, and, of course, Bob Gross!

Until next time, thank you very much for reading!

-Heather Pierce

Endings, Beginnings, Turpentine and more: Week of September 25th

Hello everyone,

As of this week I’ve finished up the requirements for my internship program! It’s been such an amazing experience to work with the Brevard County Historical Commission learning about history, technology, and my own community! I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment. During this internship I have worked on over 26 oral history videos and learned many new research and technological skills. I’ve gained experience working with Adobe video editing, proofreading techniques, used new research databases like Ancestry.com, utilized microfilm and archived materials, and interacted with patrons and volunteers at the library.

While I have met the original requirements for the internship, I have been invited to  remain working with the Brevard County Historical Commission on continuing projects. (That includes an original oral history that I began working on last week!)

So far, I have drafted potential interview questions, conducted a pre-interview background meeting, and began organizing an outline for the structure of the interview. The interview subject we are planning on is a gentleman named Bob Gross. He is a very interesting individual who has an extensive background in the historical and archaeological societies and organizations in Brevard County. I first met Bob at the Florida Historical Society when I was completing my undergraduate internship in 2015. He is a volunteer there and also volunteers at the Brevard County Historical Commission. He grew up in Melbourne, Florida after moving here as a young boy. One of his main interests is archaeology, and he was involved in the field from a young age.

Bob was a founding member of many archaeological societies in the region and still actively participates in site excavations and recording. Thus, this interview will focus mainly on his involvement with archaeology in Brevard County.

I will have lots more information on Bob as the interview draws nearer!


Updates:

  • In other news, the oral history panel for the Mosquito Beaters is officially up online! Check it out by clicking here, and take a look at last week’s post to get more information about its contents and importance!
  • I also was able to update and publish about a dozen playlists to the Brevard County Historical Commission’s YouTube page. This organizes the videos into categories which include location based playlists (Melbourne, Cocoa, etc.) and topic playlists (NASA, Black History, etc.) Check them out here!

This week I worked on two new oral histories from the Mims area. They are Lena Stokes and Juanita Wright. They are both very short interviews, less than 20 minutes each, however they have some interesting things to say about life in rural Mims.

  • The first is with Lena Curry-Stokes, and it is already available on YouTube here!

Lena Stokes was born in 1944 in Mims along State Road 46. She was born to a family working at the turpentine camp in the area. She describes the raised wooden house she lived in, the lack of electricity, and the lack of paved roads. Interestingly, she describes her best friend as a little white girl, and mentions how the camp was integrated with whites and blacks.

Harvesting turpentine was hard and dirty work, but it was very prevalent in Florida. It involved collecting resin from pine trees to be processed in such a way that it could be used by industries like the Navy.

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“Dipping and Scraping Pine Trees, Turpentine Industry in Florida” Image credit to Central Florida Memory

Once again, Ancestry.com came in handy supplying information via draft cards and other documents for identifying family names.

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Here is Lena Curry-Stoke’s father’s draft card confirming her mother’s name as Viola.

What I found particularly interesting about this brief interview is the discussion of folk medicine and home remedies. Several Oral histories have mentioned using spider webs to stop bleeding. At first I was skeptical, but after hearing it in so many oral histories and doing a quick Google search, it indeed does work as a way to stop bleeding and clot wounds! While that’s definitely a fun fact to file away, I don’t think I’ll be trying it anytime soon…


Finally, the interview with Juanita Wright will be posted next week and discusses some interesting information about how Mims has changed throughout the years. Juanita was born in 1922 and has seen many physical and cultural changes in her lifetime. Check back on my blog for more information and a link to YouTube!

Thank you for reading! I will continue to post updates to this blog as I finish up projects initiated by my internship with the Brevard County Historical Commission.

See you next time!

Palmetto Berries and NASA: Week of August 14th

Hello, everyone!

This week I’ve been working on two new oral histories–actually, two stories of Cape Canaveral. One is for a gentleman named Charles Terryn, whose father worked as a palmetto berry farmer in Cape Canaveral, and the other is for a gentleman named Guenter Wendt, who was a mechanical engineer for NASA beginning with the Mercury Program.


Charles Terryn grew up at Cape Canaveral with his extended family, including his grandmother who owned a convenience store selling sodas, snacks, and gasoline to residents, and later to military personnel who came to work at the Cape. Charles talks a lot about his father’s business of growing, harvesting, and processing palmetto berries, which were sold and shipped to pharmaceutical companies to be used in medicinal products. This involved long days from dawn ’til dusk, all they way from autumn to late spring.

I was curious as to what medical purpose the berries serve and found out that they are mostly used in products to help with male prostate conditions. The berries look like this:

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Palmetto Berries (Photo credit to the Tampa Bay Times)

(These berries are no longer legal to harvest in the wild in Florida due to them being a crucial part of the local food chain.)

Like with most oral histories, I spent a lot of time researching names and places. One great tip I learned is using the census records on ancestry.com to find the names of neighbors and extended family that lived in the same area. In Charles’s case, it worked really well because the Cape Canaveral community was very small.

Newspapers also continue to be a great source for information, such as for finding the name of one of Charles’s Seventh Day Adventist pastors from Cape Canaveral, Pastor DuBose. It’s all about utilizing a variety of resources, and checking them often!

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I found the name of Charles’s pastor, Pastor DuBose, at his historic Seventh Day Adventist Church from Cape Canaveral using online newspaper databases.

The interview also included some interesting information the home Charles Terryn grew up in, which doubled as his grandmother’s store. The building, along with several other buildings, including the above mentioned church, were moved from their original location on the Cape when the Air Force purchased the land and forced the local population to move in 1950. The end of this interview contains footage of Charles and the interviewer, Roz Foster, walking around the historic homes as they stand today in their new location.

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The Terryn Store of Charles’s youth
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The Terryn store as a private home (2007)
  • If you are interested in learning more about the Terryn family and these building I recommend you check out this article written by the interviewer, Roz Foster, in 2008 Spring/summer edition of the Indian River Journal (the official publication of the Brevard County Historical Commission). Click here.

Ironically, it was due to the moving of families like the Terryns that made way for technological progress at the Cape. My next oral history was conducted in 1992 with Guenter Wendt, a German born engineer and official “Pad Leader” at NASA during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Guenter was born in Berlin, Germany and fought with the German Air Force during WWII. His aeronautical engineering skills served him well, but he was unable to continue his work in Germany after the Allied victory.

So, Guenter moved to the United States to be with his father and began work with the Defense contractor McDonnell Aircraft. While Guenter was often strict, even affectionately earning the nickname “der Führer of der Launch Pad” from Astronaut John Glenn, he had close relationships with the astronauts and crew at NASA. He even participated in practical jokes around the facility called “Gotcha’s,” which is discussed in the interview.

Guenter’s personal stories about his time working with these individuals made his interview extremely interesting to watch (especially for space history buffs!).

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Guenter Wendt (left) with Astronaut Walter M. Schirra Jr.

The end of the interview even includes Guenter discussing some of his memorabilia from his time at NASA and narrating clips of launches at the Cape.

Checking the names and spellings for this interview has been particularly interesting. One mention of a contractor for the Gemini Program was difficult to hear; I could only make out the word “Martin.” So I did a little research online and was able to find the full name, Martin-Marietta. This was listed in the “Project Gemini Case File” by NASA in an online PDF. Thankfully my detective work paid off! Check it out!

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I used this document to confirm the “Martin-Marietta Corp” name mentioned in the interview. You can also see McDonnell Astronautics Co. listed 4 lines below (the company Guenter worked for).

While there is a lot of great history in Brevard County, it’s hard to resist the glamour and wonder of NASA’s space program at Cape Canaveral. Even today, if I’m away from home and someone asks where in Florida I’m from, I always tell them, “I live on the Space Coast!”

(As you can see from our binders of NASA photos, the Brevard County Historical Commission also takes space seriously!)

Binders of NASA photographs in the collection of the Brevard County Historical Commission
  • These interviews should be posted next week to the Brevard County Historical Commission’s YouTube page, which I will also link to on this blog. Please look forward to them!

Thank you for reading!

-Heather Pierce