Space Academy Opening-Space Cadets
From Diaries Roger Manning never kept...

SPACE CADETS and The Williamsburg Festival

Space Cadet! Used to be a magic sounding word as part of the opening of the show every time we aired .. and gradually we saw it meant a different thing.

I think it began after we had become wildly popular with the viewers.. and even adults were tuning in. Of course, as the series went on and on, we cadets were always getting into scrapes and somehow managed to get out of them..and it wasn't long before the comedians were making remarks about our show and then referring to other folk as space cadets, and now it meant somebody who was having problems or being a screw up in some way..and after a while the entire nation was using the term in the same fashion.

We had nothing to do with it. We were still the gung ho heroes of outer space and tried not to pay attention to how the words had been altered in meaning..our fans did the same thing. They ignored the strange references and didn't let it throw them. Who was to know the phrase would continue to be used in the same way many years after and is still in use today? But we know better. WE went to the moon and the planets long before NASA got around to it..and many of their guys were originally fellows who watched our guys when they were kids. And that's what counts. I think good old Roger was the only one who merited the new meaning..and loved it.

Talking about should have been in Williamsburg with some of the brave heroes who dared to come down despite the bad weather everywhere but in Williamsburg. Oh, we had one slight snowfall..but the sun was out and it didn't last.

I cheated and wasn't totally a cowboy for the festival .. wore my boots and rodeo shirts but also wore my son's patches on a safari jacket.. so everyone was asking about the Aerospace Archeology Team and his X Hunters. A few of those cowpokes got a little more to think about when they looked up at the sky at night..

It was my pleasure to meet Cadets Ed Pippin, Chuck Lassen, Jack Mckirgan,Mike Elmo and get to wear a gift Chuck gave me..a genuine POLARIS II Crew cap.. if I could just Space Cadet Jan Merlin - In dress blues - a gift from Mike Elmo hold my pot belly in, I might get away with wearing it among you younger fellows..when I saw Mike Elmo in his uniform, a neatly tailored version of the Space Ranger outfit...... you can bet I had to suck in my stomach so he wouldn't laugh too hard. Mike was kind enough to supply me with a Cadet Jacket and T-shirt as well.

What a fine time we had together! And I was so flattered that you guys came to the festival .. we even had a chance to talk about the series during the various panel discussions..which was fun for me because I've usually just talked about my Westerns and how a city boy got to be a cowhand heavy..and managed to learn to ride. I just received VCR tapes of the Festival from Bill Sasser..and they are first rate.. with all the panels shows and the kidding around and the stories and the banquet..felt like I was there again. I took a few rolls of film of everyone there..and sent the negatives to Larry Floyd, so he could have them reproduced for any of the folk wanting've seen similar ones of our solarguard group which they took themselves. Most of my shots were of EVERYONE in mass assembly.

I can't tell you much more than Chuck and Ed have put on the net..they've done a heck of a job with their reports..about the only way to get a better image of it would be to get the tapes of the show from Bill Sasser..Ben Cooper is a howl..and Peter Breck sings..and James Best turns out a great James Stewart and Walter Brennan..and John Mitchum recited his poetry and his cute little wife did her funny act..and Paul Picerni told his tales of gangsterland and westerns.. and we all tried to outdo one another with amusing the audience as well as possible..I think everyone there had a wonderful time

And I got to have a reunion with old friends and met some new ones.. and all were as instantly familiar as if we were family..

Thanks for bringing your wives..they were delightful..and thanks for being there for me..I know you had to make room in your daily lives to make the trip..pity the festival didn't run a couple of more days so we could spend more time together..We were really pooped the first day of the festival you can notice on the tapes..except the first panel is shown last, I believe ..trouble was getting up before the birds to catch the plane to Williamsburg..and only after the first day did we get rolling as we should. Hey..nostalgia IS all it's cracked up to be!

Jan  Merlin

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