book review of "The Astronaut Wives Club"
In her book, “The Astronaut Wives Club,” Lily Koppel takes us back in time and revisits the lives of astronaut wives. The time period covers just over a decade from about 1959 to 1972. In all, there were about fifty wives. Only about seven couples remained married at the end.
As is common in our society, there were not surprising cases of husbands being unfaithful while wives continued their mission of supporting the family. There were the roles and the appearances they were expected to attend. The one event we sadly rarely witness these days is a public gratitude for God’s creation. During Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve at 9:30 pm the crew delivered a message via television broadcast.
They read the creation passage from the biblical book of Genesis about heaven and earth, light and darkness, day and night, water and seas, and God saw that it was good. This message was heard around the world.
That’s a broadcast I wish I could remember witnessing. I would have been just a little boy. Those days are now gone in an era where God is excluded in our country.
Lily introduces us to the four sets of wives. There were the original seven, followed by the new nine, fourteen, and nineteen. At first, many of the families came from a military background in the Air Force. The wives were used to having officers’ wives clubs. Life in the NASA community was different, so one of the women suggested that they become a support group for each other, as their lives would become so intertwined.
Normally, in the civilian world, an individual may not want such constant and close contact with others. However, each wife knew that she could be the next widow if a mission was unsuccessful. In fact, there were some deaths that occurred. They attended each family’s funeral and rejoiced at each safe return.
All of this travel happened during the decade of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. During this short period of time, the women went from being the real housewives of the 1950s to the mod style of the 1970s. They lived with the reporters in their houses. They protected each other and their families. They came together, with individual personalities for the good of the whole.
The women had their first meeting in 1991. In this time when we are so often separated from the community, we may be missing out on lifelong friendships based on mutual care. This was an era we may not see again.