John Glenn’s Space Peaches

I met John Glenn.  It was during the 1992 election when Clinton was running against the senior George Bush. I was working for Lyon Video and they had a satellite uplink.  Glenn was a Senator in Ohio and was campaigning for Clinton.  He was going to be interviewed by some cable channel. I put his mic on.  It’s the closest to orbit I will ever get. 

A few years later, I was working for COSI, a science museum in Columbus.  We built a display case for John Glenn’s artifacts in an exhibit about space.  Due to poor planning, the artifacts were lit with incandescent MR16 bulbs.  The small spaces they were displayed in turned into Easy Bake Ovens and the artifacts were cooked.  One of those artifacts was an aluminum toothpaste tube of peaches.  I knew they were peaches because there was a typewriter written label on the tube that said, “PEACHES.”  There was also a plastic tube that would screw into the top of the aluminum tube that would break the seal and allow those sweet, sweet peaches to go into John’s gullet.  The heat from the light caused the peaches to expand and blow out the bottom of the toothpaste tube.  When we were alerted to the problem (challenge) we cut power, extracted the artifacts from the case and sent it out to get fiber optic lighting.  Because the peaches were homeless, I decided to give them a home in my work desk drawer.

Time passes.

At some point, that display case was upgraded to fiber optic lighting.  The artifacts were replaced and all was well. Except the peaches remained in my office drawer. Mostly to the back, but not so much so that I didn’t see them at least once a week.  The tiny squirt of space peaches sneaking out the bottom was frozen in physics, sneakily within the recesses of my drawer. I knew they were there, but no one asked about them and I wasn’t about to say anything.

About a year later, I got a call, “Do you have John Glenn’s peaches?”


“Do you?”

“Yes. They are right here.”
“Could we have them back?”
Of course you can. Of course. I returned them and they were placed back into the display.

And that was the end...

How dare you! How dare you ask if I tasted the peaches? The peaches that had broken the surly bonds of earth. The peaches that survived space but didn’t survive a week in a poorly designed, overheated cabinet. How dare you!

They were sweet, my friend. They were sweet.

Thank you, John Glenn. Thank you.

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