The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story
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Read the bestselling book that inspired the ABC television series.
As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; JFK made it clear that platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was his favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived with a secret that needed to stay hidden from NASA. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, providing one another with support and friendship, coffee and cocktails.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragedy began to touch their lives-the wives continued to rally together, forming bonds that would withstand the test of time, and they have stayed friends for over half a century. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.
of nights in Cookie Land, the wives could joke about the absurdity of the scene, and each went to sleep glad her astronaut was diligently sticking to his training schedule during his many months down at the Cape. But was her man really staying in like John Glenn with his Bible? Or, God forbid, panting around until the wee hours like Alan, chasing tail like a hound dog, taking advantage of the Strip’s easy drive-up-to-the-door motel access (so you didn’t have to sneak cookies in through the
lobby). The possibilities for extracurricular activities made Marge Slayton, for one, see double. God knows what her Deke was nailing down in Cocoa Beach. What was so top-secret that the Cape, the actual rocket launch site, was declared “off-limits to wives”? Who knew what went on at the top-secret Cape with the astronauts’ secretaries and nurses? Marge was no dummy. She’d been a secretary on an air base in Germany. That’s how she’d met Deke! Marge decided enough was enough, and she finally
uniformed in broad-brimmed hats, knee-high boots, and silver star badges, to escort the ladies throughout their visit. The wives were driven to the governor’s mansion for coffee with the First Lady of Texas, Nellie Connally, who gave them a tour of her Greek Revival–style mansion. The wives counted twenty-five rooms and seven bathrooms! This was a dream home! How many kids do y’all have? Nellie wanted to know, so the wives commenced a “countdown of brats.” They crossed the street to the pink
stand the long hair the boys wore: it made a man look like a girl. Hell, if he got down to it, he couldn’t stand long hair on a female. Dodie was relieved to paddle toward home, a new apartment complex in Nassau Bay. From the middle of Clear Lake, she could see the space burbs all around her, so quiet, so isolated from the rest of the world. She paddled home as the Moon rose over Togethersville. Perhaps what was going on here was more important historically than the war in the Congo, or the
Buzz’s spaceflight than she had three years before, when Buzz manned Gemini 12. She’d assumed that after his space walk, he’d be much less cold than he usually was, that he’d share his feelings about what he’d experienced. She’d expected him to have a profound spiritual transformation in space, like Ed White’s ecstasy of the deep, so that back on Earth he’d become closer to her, more emotionally engaged. She told Dodie Hamblin of Life that she’d envisioned their sometimes tenuous and distant