We lived in the Mustang Village housing project at the time and could not afford to buy cereals just to get in to see the "space ship". I was about 10, at the time (now 57) and was such a pitiful looking little waif, I guess, that the attendant allowed me in for "free" after checking to see that no one noticed, of course. Because of his kindness, over the years I have purchased a lot of Chex cereals, which I have never learned to like.
Do any of your links provide information/photos of this version of "The" rocket?
Could this be a ship similar to what Cadet Joe Sidore saw in his visit described on the Anniversary page " I WAS ON THE SPACE PATROL TELEVISION LOT-http://www.solarguard.com/spannver3.htm ? The idea of a "modular" ship that could be assembled for display inside of a building is very interesting. Anyone have any memories or pictures??? Thanks Robert, I can say I do like the Rice Chex cereals, but it took a lifetime of diets and desperation to come to that point :-) Cadet Ed
Was on board the rocket in St. Louis, MO. Remember the aircraft like controls and the map of Terra City under a plastic cover also. May be wrong after all these years but somehow I remember that there were actually two rockets, the winner of the contest got a rocket just like the one that toured or possibly the contest was such a success that they had another. Can't recall exactly.
There was a Kraft Marshmallow's naming contest that used a rocket giveaway. Thanks to Bob Burns for a picture of the contest - see comments below. There were other companies that jumped on the bandwagon with similar types of touring "rockets". The Oscar Meyer traveling hotdog is still seen today. Not a rocket but the same idea of promotion. Maybe there was another "touring rocket" that was a promotional set used for inside displays. Cadet Ed
I am using your great screen saver--to the mystification of younger folk: "who'er they?" I was interested in the photo of Carol and Tonga sitting on the fin of what is evidently the touring rocket.
The Ricky Walker (Gent) Rocket was a three-fin model, with the fins spaced 120 degrees--sitting on the fin would not have been possible.
Another difference between the two rockets is evident in the pictures of Ward Dean with the Gent rocket in 1979: The Gent rocket has a straight top fin, while the touring rocket has a curved fin (which is indeed how I remember it) evidently an attempt to give "swish" to what probably started out as a big propane tank trailer.
Thanks Ray for your observations. The fins play an important part in all of the rockets,including allowing Carol and Tonga to sit on the fin!! Cadet Jack McKirgan has worked to identify many of the early Space Patrol rockets based on style and design with fins playing an important identification element. We hope to see his work soon. Cadet Ed
In Rick DeMeis' article about the rocket in Gent, New York, he asks if anyone
ever saw a Ralston Rocket on tour. I did (two Wheat Chex or Rice Chex box tops,
please) and offer the following recollections.
The rocket I saw in a grocery store parking lot in Albany, California had, the best I can recall after all these years, the following features:
Thanks Ray for the insight. Any other cadets remember seeing the Rocket in person? A more important question, anyone have pictures of the Rocket on Tour from the 1950s? Ray noted some differences between the Gent Rocket and the Touring Rocket which adds to the evidence that there were two rockets.
While I do not have any personal knowledge of the rocket, I dug an old book
out of my attic because it had information about the rocket. Perhaps someone
else has already given you this information. The book is from 1981 and is called
Saturday Morning TV. According to the author, Gary H. Grossman,
the Terra was thirty five feet long and cost $30,000. Grossman went on to say
that Walker's parents sold the rocket a few years later to a traveling carnival
for $1000. In 1980 it was owned by Harry and Eleanor Nolin of Quincy, Illinois
who used it as a mobile NASA museum. This information came from page 235 of
Thanks Jeff for jogging my memory. Yes, Saturday Morning TV is a very good resource. Saturday Morning TV also provided the winning name for Planet X - CESARIA!!!
Saturday Morning TV also provides information on a number of other Space Opera shows of the 1950's. If you can get a copy of the book, do so, it's an excellent resource.
I think I can answer the question about the mystery rocket that Mike Elmo was talking about. I'm sending you an ad I have from an old comic page that I have. The type is small I hope it can be read. It is the rocket in the photo. It is not the Space \ Patrol rocket. It was a Kraft Marshmallow's naming contest. It was a near rip off of the Ralston rocket.
The date was October 1959. Can you forward this ad to Mike so he can put it on his site? As far as I know there were 2 rockets made for Ralston. One that toured the grocery stores across the country. I was in that one. My Dad worked at a market where they brought the rocket. I got friendly with the guys travelling with it and they let me in after hours when the crowd was gone. I had the whole ship to my self. It was really neat. The cockpit had a rear projection system, just like the Kraft ship.
The one that went in the Ralston contest was a bit different in the interior. It had bunk like beds and locker type storage areas.
Talk to you soon,
Cadet Bob (Burns)
Visit http://www.mycottage.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org...
Cadet Ed Pippin here. Many thanks Bob for your insight and to Mike Elmo for sharing the information. For those who want to see the ad click on the link below. It is interesting to see how the promotional minds of the 1950's work. Much like the Marx Toy People. If you had a good idea.. repeat it again and again. With The Marx Toys it was the playsets and space guns, with the Advertising men it was the "touring rocket".
Reading some of the later comments on the Ralston Rocket probably caused an old memory to pop into my mind as I woke up this morning. About 10 to 15 years ago, I was driving down a heavily-commercially-developed interstate-like divided highway on the way to a doctor's office, when I saw a new strip shopping center having a grand opening. It was anchored at one end by a large grocery store. In the huge parking lot of the grocery store was a silvery, truck-bed-mounted rocket ship, with a banner inviting closer inspection. This was here, in Austin, Texas.
AT that time, I knew about the Ralston Rocket, but had never seen a photo of it. I had heard that the Ralston Rocket had been sold to a salvage yard and scrapped. So it never entered my mind that this could have been the Ralston Rocket, in some later incarnation. I couldn't stop, because I was going to an appointment.
Rushing back from the appointment, I was on the far side of the divided highway and couldn't see the rocket well. When I thought of it later, and had a chance to drive out that way again, several days had gone by. I did drive out, but there was no rocket any longer.
In the last 5 years I've seen several good photos of the Ralston Rocket. All I can say is that the rocket I got a glance at roughly a decade ago in the shopping center was about the same size and shape. It was unpainted, riveted silvery metal, with airliner-like stairs going up to a hatch that opened upward. On the truck bed, it was tilted up at about a 20 degree angle, which I thought odd at the time.
Now, I am pretty sure that there were two Ralston Rockets. And I strongly suspect that the company which built the one given to Ricky Walker for Ralston built not just the one more, but, perhaps a couple more, which were somewhat different in style, but about the same size and shape, precisely for the purpose of Grand Opening ballyhoo, and that they were sold as such. And I suspect that other companies built somewhat similar rockets over the years from 1955 - 1965, again for Grand-Opening ballyhoo.
Whatever is the case, I would enjoy getting a close up view of ANY of these display rockets! Has anyone seen anything like this lately?
Addendum: one of these touring rockets, rather crude compared to the Ralston Rocket, but about the same size, is shown in a photo on p. 103 of the great book IN ADVANCE OF THE LANDING: FOLK CONCEPTS OF OUTER SPACE, by Douglas Curran (Abbeville Press, 1985). Correcting some errors in the caption, the info that "the 40 foot rocket was built for Republic Pictures' TOBOR THE GREAT, then sold in 1954 to Blakely Oil Company. During its stint with Blakely, the rocket was carted from gas station to gas station, where it would entertain an audience of 24, seated inside, with a 16 mm projected film depicting space flight, while the rocket vibrated along. In 1965, the rocket was bought by a meat-packing company, and then in 1970 by Ray Welch, who intended to refurbish it for a proposed amusement park, but by 1985 had not done so."
I would suspect the histories of the Ralston Rockets is even more complex than
"Within a few months after receiving the prize he (Ricky Walker)sold it off to a touring carnival where it became a minor attraction on their tours of themid-western circuit for years. The rocket dropped out of sight for quite awhile and nobody seemed to know what happened to it. Starlog Magazinelaunched a nationwide search in the early eighties to locate the ship ordiscover what became of it. Two dedicated Space Patrol collectors, one ofthem Andy Anderson, finally located Ricky's prize ship in the front of aconstruction company in Gent, New York, where it was a sort of advertisingprop, and in really poor condition. Efforts on the part of Andy and someother fans to raise money to save the ship and return it to California werenot successful. Somebody from the construction company put his foot thruthe wall of the ship and it was decided the ship was in such poor conditionthe it constituted a safety hazard, and without further ado theconstruction company sold it for scrap salvage. And that was the end of that."
However, "there were actually two of those rockets"used "as a promotionalgimmick for the Ralston cereal division or R-P." "Nobody knows what happenedto the other ship, the so-called Ralston Rocket, the one used in thepublicity tours across the country. It vanished without a trace, and everyeffort to get information from the Ralston Purina company has been metwith silence and indifference. Fans say there was a five foot difference inlength between the Ralston Rocket and the Ricky Walker rocket, altho whichwas longer I can't say. My guess is that the Walker rocket was longer toaccommodate the bunk room sleeping area at the back of the ship advertisedin the contest."
(Editors note: Would this second ship be the ship that Dr. WARD DEAN acquired? The Academy has written Ward at his last known address but we have not received a reply yet. I guess we will have to wait until Ward responses. Cadet Ed )