FAMILY ALBUM – Sophia’s birthday party and memories of space exploration

Posted: July 10, 2011 in art,John_Dyess

Sophia and Nana Lumetta

Yesterday was a family celebration for the first birthday of my granddaughter,Sophia Lumetta. I took this photo of Sophia sitting on the lap of her great grandmother, Nana Lumetta,who is a member of the “Silent Generation”, which is described as people born between the years of 1925 t0 1945. Above these two generations ,one named and one yet to be named ,was the space shuttle Atlantis. Here are my memories of what I was doing during various space flights, from Mercury through space shuttle missions.

May 5,1961 –  Students from Washington University School of Art and I went to Peter Shank’s house to watch the lift off of Alan Shepard’s sub-orbital flight in Feedom Seven.

July 21,1961- Gus Grissom pilots Liberty Bell 7 which sinks after splash down in the  Atlantic Ocean.I was in army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and didn’t watch or listen to this flight.

February 20,1962 John Glenn orbits the earth in Friendship 7. I had an interview with an illustration studio called Bob Ruether and Associates on this date and parked my car near where the Gateway Arch would be built . I didn’t get hired but in March of 1966 I was hired at this studio.

Project Gemini 1965 -1966 was a two man space craft which developed techniques necessary for Apollo ,whose objective was to land on the moon. During this period I was working at Scott AFB as an artist and in 1965 began dating my first wife Mary Keen,who also worked there. I was married April 30 1966.

Apollo 1 was scheduled to be the first manned mission of the Apollo lunar landing program .A cabin fire during a launch pad test killed all three crew members,Virgil “Gus ” Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger Chaffee. I was working  at Bob Ruether and Associates and heard the news on my car radio while driving home from work. This happened about a month before my first daughter ,Christine, was born on February 24,1967.

Apollo 8,December 21,1968 -December 27 1968 was the first manned space craft to leave inner space and orbit the Moon. A Christmas Eve television broadcast from the space craft ,at this time ,was the most watched TV program ever.  I watched it on a black and white TV with my wife Mary. My sons Mike and Mark were five  months old.

Apollo 11, July 16,1969 – July 24,1969 was the space flight that landed men on the Moon. First man on the Moon was Neil Armstrong,second man was Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and the pilot ot the Command Module was Michael Collins. I was working at Maritz Motivation Company as an illustrator . I remember my father helping me repair a window air conditioner during the flight. I watched the landing on a black and white TV. During the Apollo program I continued to work at Maritz.

Columbia was the  1st flight of a Shuttle on  April 12,1981. My wife Carolyn and I became parents with the birth of our daughter Audrey on April 5,1981 which was seven days before the first shuttle mission. I had been self employed for seven months as owner of John Dyess Illustration. After 30 years the last Shuttle fight  is flying in inner space while Audrey’s daughter is celebrating her first birthday.






  1. Anonymous says:

    John – Thank you so much for posting such a great shot of Sophia and Eleanor – we love it! It was so nice getting to see the Dyess clan yesterday – what a beautiful family. And thanks for sharing yourself through this blog – we are continually impressed with your many talents, and interested in your insights.

    Sincerely, Joe and Wendy Lumetta

    • johndyess says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I didn’t know that “Nana’s” name was Eleanor,Audrey and Nick always called her Nana. I put a link on this post about the “Silent Generation” (1925-1945) that includes Eleanor and me.That generation may be silent but we are creative with members that include Elvis,the Beatles, James Dean and Martin Luther King who wasn’t so silent.

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