Author Jim Hansen was back on the southwest side of Fort Wayne Thursday night, October 27, 2005. Jim has been on a book signing tour for his new book, First Man. There was a large crowd waiting at Barnes & Noble in Jefferson Pointe and Jim did not disappoint. He started by discussing the work that he has done over the past years, while writing the first and probably the only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong , the first man to walk on the moon. He then fielded questions about Neil and mentioned interesting situations that arose while compiling the biography. An excerpt from the prolog of First Man is as follows:
“No where on the globe was the excitement as palpable as it was throughout the United States. In east Tennessee, tobacco farmers picking small pink flowers from tobacco plants crowded around a pocket-size transistor in order to share the big moment. In the harbor at Biloxi, Mississippi, shrimpers waited on the wharf for word that Apollo 11 had lifted off. At the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where 7:30 classes were postponed, fifty cadets hovered around one small TV set. ‘Everybody held his breath,’ a twenty-year-old senior cadet from Missouri said. ‘Then as the spaceship lifted off the ground, we began to cheer and clap and yell and scream.’ In the twenty-four-hour casino at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the blackjack and roulette tables sat empty while gamblers stood in front of six televisions sets.”
Hansen said, “The public and the news media have projected their own profiles of what they thought Neil was really like. It was my job to unpeel the layers of those false projections and explain the man beneath the myth…to define the real Neil Armstrong.”
Jim was asked about the quote Neil Armstrong made after his first step on the moon. He said, what Neil meant to say was, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” What he actually said was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil inadvertently left out the ‘a’ leaving a quote that was not exactly what he had planned.
After the question-answer period, Jim sat down to autograph books for the eager crowd. There were old classmates and friends, some of which he hadn’t seen for many years.
One especially welcomed guest was Richard Schmidt, local owner of Hillcrest Little Turtle Lanes. Richard was one of the original owners of Smitty’s Lanes here in Wyanedale. When Jim was just a youngster, Richard tutored him in bowling, which led Jim to two Bantam National Championships (one team and one double). Jim happily autographed Richard’s copy of First Man, and told him, “You don’t know how many times I have thought of you over the years. It is great to see you.”
The line for autographs was long, and when Barnes & Noble ran out of books, they promised those that were left out that they would provide signed copies to those at a later date. After the crowd faded away Jim’s family was still there lending their support for their local celebrity.
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