Thursday, June 11th, 2020
The optimism that surrounded the first part of the space program, marching toward President Kennedy’s challenge goal through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs was truly something to behold.
Space was new, cool, and everyone wanted to be a part of it, and the stoic white (at first) test pilots who became America’s first astronauts defined a new frontier of celebrity—guys who would sit on a huge, very combustible cylinder with fins, and take a multi-G ride into orbit, and to the moon.
Ohioans knew well that the first guy to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, was born in the small town of Wapakoneta, Ohio, about midway between Toledo and Cincinnati (now) on Interstate 75. We pass it every time we go to Michigan, and just as we pay our respects to the Butter Jesus II and the prominent Mosque at the south end of Toledo (your signal to exit if you want to head toward Ann Arbor or Lansing), we traditionally nod at one particular ‘Wapok’ landmark.
If you ignore the white dome of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, the other notable I-75 roadside attraction is one of those “being a part of it” businesses: Astro Lanes, an out-of-this-world bowling alley with a fancy neon sign that manages to merge bowling pins with a starburst because, hey, why not. It has apparently gone through several owners but seems still in business, with current postings of the State of Ohio Covid-19 distancing instructions in the lobby entrance. (We dropped by at 9 am, so, a bit early for dining, lounging, or bowling.)
Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the…7-10 split?