SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Space-Age Sputnik Stirs Calhouners In 1957

By Bob Weaver

In 1957 America was startled that Russia had one-upped them in what was to become the "Race into Space."

It was frightening to hear the beep-beeps on TV and radio news, picked up from their new Sputnik satellite, an audible statement that the Soviet Union got there first.

The military implications were enormous.

Walking down Hur Hill, my grandmother McCoy was in the yard declaring such ventures into God's domain, surely a sign of the end of the world.

Grandma firmly believed that tampering with the earth's atmospheric crust caused severe weather changes and unnatural disasters.

She held that belief until she died at almost 100 in 1976, saying "See, I told you so," following each catastrophe.

I told her about the Calhoun rocket boys, who had been launching rockets for years with virtually no recognition.

At the time, I thought if only the government could have tapped our talent, tragedy would not happened.

That evening, our rocket group gathered on the hill at Hur to catch a glimpse of the shiny Sputnik in the setting sun.

Bill Barnes lamented how such a technologically advanced country as ours could be left in the dust.

A few days later it was homecoming at Calhoun High, marked by the homecoming parade, clearly the biggest crowd-drawing event in the county.

The Rocket Boys took over the design of the Junior Class float, creating a large replica of Sputnik with radio antennas protruding from an aluminum foil globe which was installed on top of a car at the end of a pole.

A recording similar to the Sputnik's beeps was made on a recorder and a battery operated PA system borrowed from Stump Funeral Home, projecting an eerie sound through the streets of Grantsville.

While few of the Rocket Boys pursued space-age technology as adults, the arrival of Sputnik inspired a generation of Americans to surpass the Russian's feat.

Over ten years later American astronauts landed on the moon.