Archive for April, 2013

Montclair to host “Buzz Aldrin Day”

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Historically speaking, Buzz Aldrin seldom lands anywhere without much fanfare.

Yet that’s exactly what happened last autumn when Aldrin, his sister, and several others walked on Princeton Place to gaze upon his boyhood home.

“He was showing them the outside of the house,” John Kelly, the home’s current resident, told The Times. “He didn’t want to come in. [He thought] it was an imposition.”

Kelly, eventually, insisted.

“We went around the side and kind of looked up where I’d climb out the third-story window and go on down the chimney to get to the roof of the first and then I’d jump down from there,” said Aldrin in a recent interview with The Montclair Times.

Aldrin’s next visit to Montclair is unlikely to go similarly unnoticed.

The township will be hosting Buzz Aldrin Day on either June 2 or June 3 of this year, 2nd Ward Township Councilwoman Robin Schlager told The Times. The event will coincide with the June 2 book signing of Aldrin’s latest effort, “Mission to Mars” at the Montclair Public Library [read more details in The Times next week].

The celebration came together during a recent phone conversation involving Schlager, Aldrin and Aldrin’s manager. While details are still up in the air, Schlager voiced her hope that the day could include Aldrin meeting with local schoolchildren.

Longtime Montclair residents may remember the last Buzz Aldrin Day celebration in September 1969. Aldrin certainly does.

“I remember that there was one car with a couple of teachers in it,” Aldrin recalled. “The sign that they had there was, ‘We taught Buzz.'”

The celebration went on to continue with a dinner at Montclair State College. Later, Aldrin’s father would accept a plaque in his honor. The plaque sits, to this day, outside Kelly’s home.

Honoring a hero

Since the July 20, 1969, moon landing, Aldrin has found his name on school buildings across the nation, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a certain Pixar-animated toy astronaut. To date, the plaque on Princeton Place and a bust inside Mount Hebron Middle School serve as the only reminders that Aldrin once called Montclair his home.

“It is overdue. No question,” Mayor Robert Jackson told The Times when asked whether the town should find a more public way to honor Aldrin. “Obviously, Buzz is an international hero and figure, not just local. We need to find the appropriate way in town to honor him. Certainly it needs to be recognized more formally.”

When asked by The Times what measure the town could take that would mean the most to him, Aldrin responded by alluding to his legacy in education.

“In my hometown, if I ever wanted a school named, it’d be a middle school or a high school,” said Aldrin, an alumnus of Montclair High School and Mount Hebron Middle School. “To me, it has seemed like just a bit too much because of tradition and everything else, but the high school is named after the town. To think of a high school named ‘Buzz Aldrin High School’ or ‘Aldrin High School’ or anything like that would be just be a tremendous honor to me.”

The 83-year-old Aldrin expressed willingness to wait until 2019, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, for any sort of honor, but joked that he “could slip on a banana in the meantime.”

In an email, Montclair Board of Education President Robin Kulwin told The Times that any name change to a school would require a good deal of community-wide discussion. Kulwin said that she would look forward to being a part of that conversation.

“The idea of renaming MHMS [Mount Hebron Middle School] in honor of Buzz is something the township should consider,” added Walter Springer of the school’s PTA.

Under the previous school-district administration, there was some talk about naming Glenfield Middle School’s planetarium after Aldrin, according to Schlager. That plan has not yet been revisited.

“If anybody deserves a day or an honor in our town,” observed Schlager, “it’s certainly Buzz Aldrin.”

The proud mountie

Since he was born in Mountainside Hospital, several biographies list Aldrin’s birthplace as Glen Ridge. Aldrin says that that has always rubbed him the wrong way.

“I never fail to tell people, it’s not New Jersey I’m from,” said Aldrin. “It’s Montclair, New Jersey.”

Living in California during the past four decades, Aldrin admitted that he does not come to Montclair as often as he should or would like to, typically opting to visit his sister in Manasquan when he’s on the East Coast.

Still, Kelly estimated that the Apollo 11 astronaut has visited the Princeton Place home four of five times through the years. Memories of Aldrin’s youth in Montclair are still fresh.

During the course of two interviews with The Times, Aldrin reminisced about how he and his friends would sneak up the Bellevue Theater fire escape and watch “Lone Ranger” movies from the balcony, and how his respect for military service was fostered in the town. Aldrin remembers his high school class welcoming soldiers back from World War II and, as a young boy, looking up at the war memorial at Edgemont Memorial Park.

Among the schoolboys in Anderson Park, across the street from his boyhood home, Aldrin was known as “the tow-headed little scatback.” He would go on to pole-vault for the Montclair High School track team and served as a blocking back during his sophomore year on the Mounties football team.

Occupied by the qualifying exam for West Point Military Academy during his junior year, Aldrin quit football only to watch, regretfully, from the stands during that season’s opener. The next year, Aldrin returned to the team, starting as an undersized 165-pound center on the squad’s 1946 undefeated, untied state championship team.

Sixty-plus years later, Aldrin still rattles off names of his teammates: running backs “Crazy Legs” Jackson, Bob Deacon and Joe Furnari; quarterback Russ Gustavson; and line-mate Joe Andolino, who was even smaller than he was.

Aldrin was also a scholar at MHS, finishing near the top of his class behind Winston Markey. Markey went on to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while Aldrin chose to attend West Point. Years later, while Aldrin was working on his doctorate at MIT, Markey was on the faculty. MIT would go on to develop the guidance system for the lunar module, bringing to fruition Markey’s prediction in Aldrin’s high school year book.

“‘Rockets to the moon. I build them, you fly them,'” Aldrin recalls Markey writing.

Now, decades later, the self-described “proud Mountie, always looking to lead to a better future” is looking back on his legacy as an astronaut, pilot and author.

How he will be remembered in Montclair, for the moment, remains for the community to decide.

Click here to read the Original Article at The Montclair Times.

Buzz Aldrin In conversation with Leonard David followed by book signing at Cradle of Aviation Museum

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Buzz will be signing copies of his new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on May 11, 2013 in Garden City, NY at 12:00pm.

May 11, 2013
Cradle of Aviation Museum
Garden City, NY

Additional book tour dates

Book Signing at Clinton Presidential Center

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Lecture with Dr. Buzz Aldrin and Journalist Leonard David
You and a guest are invited to a conversation with legendary astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin and Leonard David, veteran space journalist and co-author of Dr. Aldrin’s new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration at the Robinson Center Music Hall (new location due to high demand) on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 6pm.

August 14, 2013
Doors Open: 5:30pm
Lecture: 6:00pm
Book signing immediately following the lecture.
Robinson Center Music Hall (new location due to high demand)

Little Rock, AR

*Reservations are required. Reserve your seats by emailing or calling 501.683.5239.

For more details click HERE

Additional book tour dates

Buzz will be speaking at Campus Party México

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Buzz will be appearing and speaking at the Futura Networks Campus Party event (#CPMX4) at Expo Bancomer in Mexico City, Mexico on July 30-31, 2013.

July 30-31, 2013
Expo Bancomer
Mexico City, MX