It had to happen: some kind of synchronicity between my former life (“The 1968 Exhibit”) and my current one– this project and this blog about Charles Lindbergh.
Lindbergh was an avid supporter of the U.S. space program since its inception in the late 1950s–and, of course, was still a major celebrity in the history of exploration and aeronautics. So it was with a great deal of excitement on all sides that Charles and Anne Lindbergh met with the Apollo 8 astronauts–Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders–on December 20, 1968, while the crew was in living in their pre-launch quarters at the Kennedy Space Center. Lindbergh reportedly told them about how he had used a piece of string to measure the distance on a globe from New York to Paris and how he had used that to calculate the amount of fuel needed for the flight. The next day, the Lindberghs watched the launch of Apollo 8 from a nearby dune. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Earth Shine is about the Apollo program.
The Lindberghs would meet again with the Apollo 8 astronauts at a White House dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson in December 1968, where Lindbergh and the astronauts signed autographs together and posed for photographs.
I wasn’t aware Lindbergh was a celebrity into the 1960s. What were his politics by this time?
Lindbergh was probably a solid Republican of the (relatively) affluent, East-Coast, quasi-liberal type (though he and his wife both voted for Stevenson instead of Eisenhower). By the 1960s, he was no longer writing anything that smacked of white supremacism or pro-Fascism; on the contrary, he was writing about the “wisdom of wildness” and extolling “the primitive” (e.g., the Maasai in Africa). Mostly he kept a low profile; the 1968 White House dinner was a rarity.