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Did a search and couldn't come up with many posts about NASA, especially in the early 60's when it was new. I had the opportunity of living practically right across the road from NASA when I was a kid and watching it get built. I remember going to church in Webster with several astronauts, including John Glenn. It was a pretty desolate area before NASA, but it quickly changed. I was wondering if anyone had any photos from NASA and that area from the early 60's?

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Alas, I have no photos, just memories. In 1964 I went to work for Philco/Ford Division, contractors who built and maintained Building 30 or MCC as it is known to everyone. We had a beautiful new building on El Camino, off-site. I used to go over to the MCC sometimes, so exciting in those days with all the big missions. We had a raucous "Gemini IV Beer Bust" in Clear Lake Park upon the great success of that one.

At the time I was there, from 1964 through 1966, the major thing in the works was, of course, the Apollo Program. Many large Top Secret files to guard in the planning phase, tons of scientists from all over the world working hard. They were an interesting and colorful lot.

One place you may recall is where we used to go for lunch all the time. There was a hotel across Nasa Rd. 1 from the site. Upstairs they had a daily lunch buffet, with good stuff like Lobster Newburg. It was always filled with folks from NASA proper and us contract employees. What amazed me at the time (my early 20's) was that almost everyone had a cocktail with lunch. Houston born and bred, that was not a usual practice before. Being a lightweight, I always figured I'd be too bombed to do my work after lunch, so abstained.

You are so right, it was a wasteland, nothing in the vicinity but NASA and contract companies. The hotel of which I speak was about the only place to eat lunch. Years ago, I went by my old building and it was sadly empty with a for sale sign in front. Still looked great, though.

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Wow WestU, I thought I was the oldest one in this group. It's neat that you were there when it was being built. We moved to League City in 1971 when I was still in high school. But I remember everyone calling NASA "MSC" (Manned Spacecraft Center). It was changed to JSC later on. Nassua Bay was the "cat's meow" back then. Clear Creek Village had the next best seats, along with Clear Lake Forest which was just being developed. Nassua Bay had their own telephone company, "Continental Telephone Co". Webster and League City and places south were served by General Telephone Co. Electricity in Webster and League City was served by Texas-New Mexico Power. This was way back in the day before deregulation.

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Wow WestU, I thought I was the oldest one in this group. It's neat that you were there when it was being built. We moved to League City in 1971 when I was still in high school. But I remember everyone calling NASA "MSC" (Manned Spacecraft Center). It was changed to JSC later on. Nassua Bay was the "cat's meow" back then. Clear Creek Village had the next best seats, along with Clear Lake Forest which was just being developed. Nassua Bay had their own telephone company, "Continental Telephone Co". Webster and League City and places south were served by General Telephone Co. Electricity in Webster and League City was served by Texas-New Mexico Power. This was way back in the day before deregulation.

The power company used to be Community Public Service before it was Texas-New Mexico Power. I remember this very well from the bills my folks used to pay. I grew up in Newport, and there were times my dad thought he should have bought a home in Clear Creek Village instead. Now maybe he thought differently after the floods of Claudette....

Now for a picture of the space center area, circa January 1962. I downloaded this and a few others several years ago -- I no longer remember where, unfortunately. As you can see, there is NOTHING in this picture! The land for the space center has been cleared, and some construction has started. But there is no Nassau Bay, no Clear Lake City, and no Nasa Road 1. The old FM 528 is there, going much closer to the shoreline than Nasa Road 1 does. And you can see where the road curves, right where El Camino/Egret Bay is today.

WestUNative, you're speaking of the old Nassau Bay Hotel, aren't you? I can remember the NBC News studio and logos on top of that building. It's long gone now; on or near the site are a CVS drugstore, a Luby's, a Microtel and an Extended Stay America.

(Edit: I don't know how to post images so they show up inline rather than as attachments)

post-3751-1188871384.jpg

Edited by rreini
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rreini, thanks for your memory! Yes, Nassau Bay Hotel, where all the visiting newspeople hung out and government reps stayed on their oversight trips. It was very nice and I do recall the logos. The picture is splendid, it is so hard to believe in my lifetime it all going from nothing to wow, then changing so drastically down the line. Everything was so brand new and sparkling and clean then. Eventually as is the way, so many junky businesses sprang up, such overcrowding. The last time I drove by in 1993, I couldn't believe my eyes and the traffic on NASA Road 1 was beyond belief.

Ah-ha, plumber 2, even I am not the oldest person on these boards! I will not 'out' anyone, but I do know of one member 6 years my senior, so there.

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Now for a picture of the space center area, circa January 1962. I downloaded this and a few others several years ago -- I no longer remember where, unfortunately. As you can see, there is NOTHING in this picture! The land for the space center has been cleared, and some construction has started. But there is no Nassau Bay, no Clear Lake City, and no Nasa Road 1. The old FM 528 is there, going much closer to the shoreline than Nasa Road 1 does. And you can see where the road curves, right where El Camino/Egret Bay is today.

Thanks for the picture. That's the NASA area that I remember.

Yes, that is the West Mansion in the lower part by Clear Lake.

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Ah-ha, plumber 2, even I am not the oldest person on these boards! I will not 'out' anyone, but I do know of one member 6 years my senior, so there.

I see that as a plus, a big plus WestUNative.

I personaly have always been drawn to the more seasoned opposed to the younger set. Any day any time! :P

We need more of you all here. Please do hang around.

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My father came to Houston in 1964 to work for Philco/Ford at NASA as well. We settled in Baytown and my dad drove in down Highway 146 to Red Bluff, through El Lago to NASA 1 then into NASA through Gate 1 which was right next to the West Mansion (and now closed). I also remember the NBC News studio logo atop the old Nassau Bay Hotel which could be seen from NASA 1. Lots of people have told me they remember when NASA Road 1 was a shell lane.

I actually spent a week at that hotel in one of the rooms by the pool back in the early 1980s when I was in my early 20s. The action in the hotel bar was still good even then. The scene at old Portofino Apartments were akin to the Mid Lane apartments back in the 1960s. They are still there. I lived in the Nassau Bay Village apartments for several years back in the 1980s. I remember the old Jet gas station across the street from the hotel where the Wendy's is now and I also remember what used to sit where the Hilton now sits. Does anyone else?

For an interesting look at the old NASA, watch the 1966 Don Knotts movie The Reluctant Astronaut many exterior shots were done on site and the openness of it is startling.

One thing I remember from those days is a bar or night club off NASA 1 that was called, I think, the Spook House. It was an old house painted with ghosts and bats on the front. Anyone remember that place?

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The scene at old Portofino Apartments were akin to the Mid Lane apartments back in the 1960s. They are still there.

Oh my lord -- the Portofino Apartments. I lived there for about a year from late 1965 through late 1966. WestU is absolutely right about how wild and wide open the bay area was in those early days of NASA. There was a party going on somewhere practically 24-7, and Portofino was right in the middle of it all.

I shared a two bedroom studio with three other guys, and in the interests of keeping me from getting kicked off this website, let's just say the action was almost non-stop. It wasn't because I or my buddies were especially appealing. We were nothing special, but the area was practically overrun by NASA groupies who thought anybody who lived down there around Clear Lake just had to be the coolest thing since canned beer.

I think enough time has elapsed and enough people are dead that I can spill a couple of spicy secrets from those days. A spectacular looking girl who lived across the patio from us didn't have a job, but she always seemed to have a lot of money to spend, drove a Corvette and lived in an apartment that in 1965 was renting for 400 dollars a month. Today that same apartment would cost four or five times that.

Her secret was that she was one of Alan Shepard's girlfriends. He "kept" her there, and came to "visit" her at all hours of day and night. She was one of several "Al's girls", and she knew that but didn't care because she loved the life style. She told me she was free to date anybody she pleased, but she had to be available when Al called because he was paying all her bills.

Shepard was amazing. The original "good time Charlie." He didn't care who saw him or what anybody thought. He was independently wealthy by that time because he had parlayed his astronaut celebrity into lucrative business relationships that made him a lot of money. By the late sixties he was rich enough to move out of the bay area to River Oaks. The retired astronaut character Jack Nicholson played in Terms of Endearment was based loosely on Shepard.

In another big studio apartment there were four of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. They claimed they all worked in the NASA Protocol Office, even though they seemed to be at the apartments all the time, lounging pool side, or coming and going from parties or sailing on the bay. I was suspicious, because their lifestyle, cars and wardrobes just didn't seem to fit the GS salary scale of those days.

I learned on my own that the Protocol Office "took care" of visiting dignitaries, corporate contractor bigwigs and celebrities. The Chief of Protocol had a whole stable of beauties stashed in apartments around Nassau Bay who were on call to serve as "escorts" for these visitors. They were glorified hookers!

Ah yes. Those really were the good old days. I really hated to leave and move away but my job moved me to Austin.

Edited by FilioScotia
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