2020 Road Trip Photos #12: The Neighborhood Corner Rocket

Grissom Monument!

Mitchell putting the “rock” in “rocket”.

We had one last stop planned in the town of Mitchell before we moved on. As it happens, the Virgil “Gus” Grissom Museum inside Spring Mill State Park isn’t their only tribute to the hometown legend who was chosen to become one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts in America’s fledgling space program. When the place you’re from thinks that highly of you, sometimes one salute isn’t enough.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Then came 2020 A.D.

Even in an ordinary average year, sometimes you really need to get away from it all. In a year like this, escape is more important than ever if you can find yourself one — no matter how short it lasts, no matter how limited your boundaries are. Anne and I had two choices: either skip our tradition for 2020 and resign ourselves to a week-long staycation that looks and feels exactly like our typical weekend quarantines; or see how much we could accomplish within my prescribed limitations. We decided to expand on that and check out points of interest in multiple Indiana towns in assorted directions. We’d visited many towns over the years, but not all of them yet.

In addition to our usual personal rules, we had two simple additions in light of All This: don’t get killed, and don’t get others killed…

A couple blocks south of the Railroad Cafe, in the middle of a quiet residential area stands the Gus Grissom Monument, a 44-foot-tall sculpture dedicated in 1981 to the most famous among all Hoosier astronauts (and there have been several).

Grissom Ave!

It’s not on Grissom Avenue, but we passed that on the way.

Riley School bricks!

Surrounding the monument’s plot of land is a brick wall made from the remains of his old elementary school.

Rosie the Riveter garden!

Also inside those walls was a National Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden. It wouldn’t be the last such sign we saw this week.

last rose!

Nearly all the rose bushes had been picked bare. This was the only one we found waiting for us. We showed it mercy and let it be.

One Of Ours!

A nod from the local Masons in the shape of a typical Indiana historical marker, but it isn’t quite the same thing.

Grissom Home sign!

Signs advertising the nearby Grissom Boyhood Home were also laid down behind the wall. We don’t visit a lot of historical homes, and I don’t believe they’ve been open this season anyway, as you can imagine.

Grissom part 1!

Eight panels attached to the monument tell Grissom’s life story, which begins here.

Grissom parts 3-4!

Parts 3 and 4 cover his years as a test pilot and as an early NASA recruit.

Grissom Part 6!

Part 6! Grissom becomes the first American astronaut to venture into space twice.

Grissom part 7.

Part 7: The final hours during his lifetime, followed by the tragedy as horrifyingly portrayed in Damien Chazelle’s First Man.

Grissom quote.

The parting thought at the end of Part 8.

Bonus happy postscript: three weeks after our visit, folks in Mitchell graciously arranged for the monument to receive a much needed-cleaning. An updated photo showing off much brighter stonework is now available on the Grissom Boyhood Home’s Facebook page.

With one last bit of respect paid, we left Mitchell and headed north to focus on another kind of exploration.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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