Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Passion, Planning, and Perserverance

I participated in a program that was sponsored by L-3 Communications (my employer) and others. The program was "One Book, One Waco". The book chosen for this particular program was "Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickam. Since I participated in one of the Q&A sessions for the program at the Waco Central Library I was given a chance to dine with Homer and various city dignitaries.

Scott Jenkins and I attended the dinner with Lance Martin. Scott is an engineer and Lance is our PR representative for the site. The dinner was held at the Armstrong-Browning Library on Baylor's campus. Since I was behind the camera, Scott was in the picture as he perused some of the exhibits in the library as we waited for time to start dinner. Dinner was on a lower floor.

We checked in and were badged up. We were assigned tables. I was at table 3 with a couple of the speakers. Lauren Dreyer and Dr. Truell Hyde sat at the same table where Scott and I sat. The food was good, chicken and vegetables.

Homer Hickam was the focal point of the dinner. Here Scott and I are with Homer.

I told Homer I liked the book but I liked the movie (October Sky) more. He said, "Oh no!"

We mingled and talked for a bit, then came dinner.

Here is Lauren at the table next to me. She works at SpaceX, another of the sponsor companies. She is in marketing and is local to the area of McGregor where SpaceX has test facilities.

After dinner we had the opportunity to hear an introduction by the Baylor Student Body President. Homer gave a nice speech about things from his book and his time in Coalwood West Virginia.

After dinner we went to the Waco Hall for the main event of the evening. Jeanette and Eric came to spend the evening with me. I enjoyed the time there.

The high point was listening to Homer relate some items that were not in his book. He started out saying that the 3 P's were important for success -- Passion, a Plan, and Persistence. He told a couple humorous stories that indicated the commitment that was expected in that area. Families stayed together, even if there were troubles. He related how his mother had dated her father and he was set on marrying her. She went off to visit a rich uncle in Florida, and even had pictures of the trailer home to prove it. While she was there she was courted by Buddy Epson (Uncle Jed), but was convinced to go back and marry Homer Hickam Sr. Buddy Epson sent a wedding present, a baby alligator. She kept the alligator in the kitchen sink until it grew too large to be there. It was then moved to the bathroom tub (the only bathroom in the house). Homer Sr. did not like reptiles, if you wanted a picture window, then throw a snake on him from out in the yard and he would tear out the wall getting away from the snake. One day he was heading upstairs to when the 5 foot long alligator was coming down the stairs. Homer Sr. ran outside and yelled, "Either that alligator goes or I do!" Elsie considered for a couple hours before she agreed to get rid of the alligator.

Homer also had a couple other interesting stories about his youth, some of which are contained in the book, "Rocket Boys". I recommend the book as an easy read and maybe it will even incite some memories of your own.

Lance Martin and his son were there to represent L-3 Communications.

I had Jeanette bring my copy of the book and I had the chance to get an autograph. Homer has written other books. He related to us a story about his beginnings as a newspaper editor, a handwritten newspaper, that had a very limited distribution. His first amendment rights were taken when he wrote something about his mother that she did not appreciate.


  1. I am glad for you to be having good experiences. Sometimes I would like to be a mouse in your pocket. Sounds like a lot of fun. Mom

  2. I haven't read the book, but I really enjoyed October Sky.

    I really enjoy knowing what you are doing. It makes you feel closer.


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