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Goddard's 100th Anniversary Day, October 19



One hundred years ago today, 17 year old Robert Goddard climbed a 
cherry tree in the backyard of his family's home in Worcester, 
Massachusetts. In later years he wrote about that day:

"This was the situation when, on the afternoon of October 19, 1899, I
climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of the barn, on a plot where I
had visions of some kind of frog-hatching experiments, and, armed with a
saw which I still have, and a hatchet, started to trim the dead limbs
from the cherry tree. It was one of the quiet, colorful afternoons of
sheer beauty which we have in October in New England, and as I looked
toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to
make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars,
and how it would look on a small scale, if sent up from the meadow at my
feet. I have several photographs of the tree, taken since, with the
little ladder I made to climb it, leaning against it.

It seemed to me then that a weight whirling around a horizontal shaft,
moving more rapidly above than below, could furnish lift by virtue of
the greater centrifugal force at the top of the path. In any event, I
was a different boy when I descended the tree from when I ascended, for
existence at last seemed very purposive."

This date was of such significance to Dr. Goddard that he thereafter
referred to  it as "Anniversary Day" and almost every year made some
reference to it in his diary as his personal holiday.

On the 100 year anniversary of that day, with a US spacecraft
approaching Mars for a landing, it would be fitting for the modern day
descendents of Goddard to reflect on his vision in the cherry tree one
October afternoon.

Dan Schultz N8FGV

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