Carpenter – Vail’s resident astronaut
“Are you Scott Carpenter?” my wife looked at him and asked.
He politely said that he was.
“I want to shake your hand,” she said.
Blanche told him that it would take two days for his ski pants to be repaired because the seamstress lived in Minturn. At that moment, I walked into the shop with a big grin and met one of our national heroes. The grin was because I had just returned from one of the first trips into China Bowl. It was a strenuous but exciting trip. Carpenter was so interested he asked me if I would take him there when he returned from Aspen in two days. Naturally I said I would be delighted.
We went with his friend Howard Singer from Houston and several others (the word had gotten around). We had a glorious day. His friend Howard, not in good shape, had an exhausting climb back up to the lift at the bottom of Sundown Bowl. We thought we might lose him. That was April 3, 1963.
From that day, Scott Carpenter and I have been close friends. We would see each other frequently through the years. Carpenter is a native Coloradan – his family has a ranch near Steamboat Springs. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and now lives half the year in Vail and the other half in Manhattan, N.Y.
After a motorcycle accident in Bermuda prevented him from continuing as an astronaut, Carpenter became involved in the navy’s Sea Lab program in San Diego. It involved the study of the undersea environment, marine geology and marine biology. At one time he lived more than 200 feet below the surface of the ocean in the sea lab for 30 days.
While living there, he and his companions had the services of a trained dolphin named Tuffy. Tuffy would deliver mail and Coca Cola from the surface. Tuffy’s most important duty, however, was to carry a line to a lost diver and show him back to his only haven ‘ the underwater Sea Lab.
Carpenter has written several books and makes speeches all over the world. Recently he received a special award from the Lotos Club, one of the country’s most prestigious honors. During the ensuing years, other members of the original Mercury astronauts – John Glenn, the late Alan Shepard, and Wally Schirra – have spent considerable time in Vail. I felt honored when Carpenter agreed to write a foreword for this book.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 127th installment, an excerpt from chapter 15, “The Rich and the Famous.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.