PAW’s brief article and PAWcast (posted Nov. 6 at PAW Online) on Pete Conrad ’53, the third person to walk on the moon, kindled a very particular interest in me. In the 1970s, enjoying my good fortune as a graduate student at Princeton and abroad, I never would have imagined that decades later I would have the pleasure of owning the house that Conrad and his family lived in from 1963 to 1974, while he was a Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab astronaut.
Located in Timber Cove on the southern edge of Houston, less than five miles from the new Johnson Space Center, the Conrad home was in the middle of the first NASA bedroom community. The house was within two or three blocks of the homes of other first astronauts, including Glenn, Grissom, Schirra, Carpenter, and Lovell. Stories circulate of well-known individuals of that era, from von Braun and Armstrong to Cronkite and Wolfe, who participated in gatherings at the house’s convivial barroom and the pool out back. (The pool also served the Conrad boys as a splashdown target, with them jumping and even riding bicycles off the house’s roof simultaneously with one or more of their father’s successful ocean returns to Earth.)
As PAW makes clear, Conrad was both a highly skillful pilot and a fun-loving individual. He and his family are still remembered well and fondly in Timber Cove. Although I no longer live there, PAW’s story has helped to further link two of the unexpected privileges of my life: each in its own way, the closest I’ll ever be to over the moon.