Sunday, August 16, 2015

The victory of Annie Glenn, Wife of John Glenn

by Dianne

For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth; the enduring affection for him is so powerful that even now people find themselves misting up at the sight of his face or the sound of his voice.

But for all these years, Glenn has had a hero of his own, someone who he has seen display endless courage of a different kind:

Annie Glenn.

They have been married for 72 years.

He is 94; she turned 95 in February.

This weekend there has been news coverage of the 50th anniversary of Glenn's flight into orbit. We are being reminded that, half a century down the line, he remains America 's unforgettable hero.

He has never really bought that.

Because the heroism he most cherishes is of a sort that is seldom cheered. It belongs to the person he has known longer than he has known anyone else in the world.

John Glenn and Annie Castor first knew each other when -- literally -- they shared a playpen.

In New Concord, Ohio, his parents and hers were friends. When the families got together, their children played.

John -- the future Marine fighter pilot, the future test-pilot ace, the future astronaut -- was pure gold from the start. He would end up having what it took to rise to the absolute pinnacle of American regard during the space race; imagine what it meant to be the young John Glenn in the small confines of New Concord ..

Three-sport varsity athlete, most admired boy in town, Mr. Everything.

Annie Castor was bright, was caring, was talented, was generous of spirit. But she could talk only with the most excruciating of difficulty. It haunted her.

Her stuttering was so severe that it was categorized as an "85%" disability -- 85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out.

When she tried to recite a poem in elementary school, she was laughed at. She was not able to speak on the telephone. She could not have a regular conversation with a friend.

And John Glenn loved her.

Even as a boy he was wise enough to understand that people who could not see past her stutter were missing out on knowing a rare and wonderful girl.

Wedding picture.

They married on April 6, 1943. As a military wife, she found that life as she and John moved around the country could be quite hurtful. She has written: "I can remember some very painful experiences -- especially the ridicule."

In department stores, she would wander unfamiliar aisles trying to find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to ask the salesclerks for help. In taxis, she would have to write requests to the driver, because she couldn't speak the destination out loud. In restaurants, she would point to the items on the menu.

A fine musician, Annie, in every community where she and John moved, would play the organ in church as a way to make new friends. She and John had two children; she has written: "Can you imagine living in the modern world and being afraid to use the telephone? 'Hello' used to be so hard for me to say. I worried that my children would be injured and need a doctor. Could I somehow find the words to get the information across on the phone?"

John, as a Marine aviator, flew 59 combat missions in World War II and 90 during the Korean War. Every time he was deployed, he and Annie said goodbye the same way. His last words to her before leaving were:

"I'm just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum."

And, with just the two of them there, she was able to always reply: "Don't be long."

On that February day in 1962 when the world held its breath and the Atlas rocket was about to propel him toward space, those were their words, once again. And in 1998, when, at 77, he went back to space aboard the shuttle Discovery, it was an understandably tense time for them. What if something happened to end their life together? 
She knew what he would say to her before boarding the shuttle. He did -- and this time he gave her a present to hold onto:

A pack of gum.

She carried it in a pocket next to her heart until he was safely home.

Many times in her life she attempted various treatments to cure her stutter. None worked.

But in 1973, she found a doctor in Virginia who ran an intensive program she and John hoped would help her. She traveled there to enroll and to give it her best effort. The miracle she and John had always waited for at last, as miracles will do, arrived. At age 53, she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts.

John has said that on the first day he heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to offer a prayer of gratitude.

He has written: "I saw Annie's perseverance and strength through the years and it just made me admire her and love her even more." He has heard roaring ovations in countries around the globe for his own valor, but his awe is reserved for Annie, and what she accomplished: "I don't know if I would have had the courage."

Her voice is so clear and steady now that she regularly gives public talks. If you are lucky enough to know the Glenn's, the sight and sound of them bantering and joking with each other and playfully finishing each others' sentences is something that warms you and makes you thankful just to be in the same room.

Monday will be the anniversary of the Mercury space shot, and once again people will remember, and will speak of the heroism of Glenn the astronaut.

But if you ever find yourself at an event where the Glenn's are appearing, and you want to see someone so brimming with pride and love that you may feel your own tears start to well up, wait until the moment that Annie stands to say a few words to the audience.

And as she begins, take a look at her husband's eyes.

WOW!!! What a story!


Jodi said...

DIANNE - What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it!

Just_Lin said...

Dianne Thanks for the blog today. I didn't know that about Annie Glenn until I started watching the TV show "Astronaut Wives". I did have a business lunch with Wally Shirra when he was the spokesperson for a home security system.

Just_Lin said...

HOdi Waving my flabby wing at you.

I just returned from breakfast with a few of my former co-workers. We try to get together every couple of months or so. It's mostly a beautiful day here but I can see some haze in the air due to smoke from wildfires further north.

Jodi said...

Well, I didn't get my nap outside. Ended up taking Jake to meet a new "girlfriend" for mini golf and did some last minute shopping. When I got back I had laundry to fold and pack. Oh, well....maybe tomorrow. And it won't be so hot!!!

Jodi said...

SLIN - What did you have for breakfast? Enjoy the rest of your day pretty lady ♥

Mary/MI said...

Happy Monday gals!
Jodi, you are looking especially radiant tonight! Must be from thinking of Hawaii!!

Dianne, I loved reading about the "Glens". I had never heard of it.
I am so glad she was able to lose her stuttering. That had to have been so hard on her!
I used to babysit my neighbors boy since he was about 6 months old. He used to stutter. I felt so bad for him! He is no longer stuttering. He has graduated from school and college and working in Utah as a firefighter.

JL, I love meeting with my ex co-workers! We meet for lunch once a month. The "snowbirds" leave us about Nove., but there are still a few of us that meet until their return :)

Jodi said...

MARY - We are so excited! Already have dinner with TURTLE planned the first night! She is going to give me a map for the circle island tour, since she was our ever gracious tour guide the last two times!

Jodi said...

Best get my butt to work. T minus 8 hours til vacation! Woot woot!!

Just_Lin said...

HOdi Wow, your vacation is finally starting! Do you think Paul is excited? That's great that you will be able to visit with Turtle the first night. That will start your vacation off well. Give her a hug from us ho's.


Just_Lin said...

We just had a bit of an earthquake. Kind of puts me on edge waiting for an aftershock.

Just_Lin said...

Mary It is fun to meet with the former co-workers and catch up on each other's lives. A couple of them are still working at the vet clinic so the rest of us get updated on happenings there, as well.

Mary/MI said...

JL, Earthquake?? We haven't heard about it. How big was it?

Hodi, super hugs to our Hawaiian Turtle!

Dianne, where are you? Getting your tooth taken care of? I sure hope it goes smoothly!!

It is super hot here again! I need to get to the store for a few things. I will be sweating up a storm between the Jeep and store!

Jodi said...

SLIN and MARY - Will be a pleasure delivering those hugs!! SLIN did you ever get those aftershocks? MARY I hope you didn't melt today!

Jodi said...

Time to hoist and rinse!! We need to be on the road in an hour!!

Have a great day HOoters ♥

Just_Lin said...

Mary It was just a 4.0 so not that big of a deal. If I hadn't already been awake, I wouldn't have noticed it. It was enough for me to feel it as I sat in a chair and it made some sliding glass doors on a bookcase rattle.

Just_Lin said...

HOdi I didn't notice any aftershocks. Wishing you and Paul safe travels and I hope you have a wonderful time. Don't let Paul wear suspenders with his shorts. LOL

Jodi said...

SLIN - Thanks! And I inspected his bag. No suspenders! Ha! We landed in Phoenix about 25 minutes ago. I'm getting my nicotine fix and Paul is having breakfast. I'll check in again when we land in Oahu!

Mary/MI said...

Hodi, thanks for checking in. I hope you have time to bring us along!!

JL, Whew, glad it wasn't any bigger! Crazy weather this year! I sure hope you get rain! We have had more than our share of it! We are expecting more this week!

Oh Dianne!!!!

Just_Lin said...

HOdi I remember those days of having to get a nicotine fix. Hope you have friendly skies on the rest of your trip to paradise.

Just_Lin said...

Mary There's not much left of my front or back lawn. By the time we get rain I will have mud instead of grass.

Dianne/Denver said...

Hellooo, here I am.

No Mary, not getting tooth done until Monday. I have sick on my calendar for Monday and Tuesday!! I'm such a baby and remember the last awful time. I'll get the gas and take a couple of anxiety pills before I go. I'm dreading it.

Today was so nice...mid 70's...makes me look forward to September. We're supposed to have this for a couple of days and then back to 90.

Jodi, I hope you both have a great time. I'm sure glad you didn't have dental issues right before you left. What are you doings with the boys while you are gone?

I got some new reading glasses at Walmart. Ive never had to need them but I really cannot read prescription bottles, bills and Facebook. I'm getting so darn old. My purse is full of glasses.

Barb, I think about you often and miss hearing from you. Hope you check in soon.

JL, I didn't hear about your earthquake here either. Glad it wasn't worse. Do you get scared about those happening? Glad you have a trip planned. Seems like your brother just had a birthday.

Not much going on..just some lunches and dr appts. What full days. Lol.

Just_Lin said...

Dianne Oh, I remember how much I would dread having to go to the dentist. Just hated it! You would think you'd get used to it after having so many appointments but I know I never did.

It was a nice day here, too. I went out for a late breakfast, got my nails done, picked up some salad stuff for dinner, and took the dog for a walk. That's about it besides doing a load of laundry. My days aren't very full or exciting, that's for sure.

Jodi said...

SLIN - We had a great flight in from Phoenix. Even landed 15 minutes early. My Advil pm helped. Got some much needed sleep on the way over!

Jodi said...

DIANNE - Tim is at home since he is 18 and working full time. Jake is staying with my in-laws. He pitched a fit, but they were willing to bring him out to wrestling practice every day. And I didn't feel comfortable leaving him home.

Jodi said...

MARY - Of course I am bringing you along!!

Jodi said...

TURTLE met us at our hotel and leied us both ;) We had supper at Lulu's, and Paul went to bed. TURTLE and I went to Sunway's gig at Hula's for a little bit. I've had 2 beers and will sleep well. Good night from Waikiki!

sacBarb said...

Hello HOoters! I watch the Astronauts Wives show and I knew about Mrs. Glenn stuttering but I didn't know the rest of the story about how she was able to cure it. Are any of you watching it? It doesn't look like the wives were treated very well by NASA and were expected to be subservient for the most part. Although they did stage a protest on the last show I watched.

Jodi, I'm glad you had a good flight to Hawaii. Aren't you guys celebrating your anniversary? I'm sure you will enjoy the island life!

Chad made his reservation today to go back home. He will leave on Sept 8th so he has a couple days before he has to go back to work. He has been such a help to me especially with the kittens. Since I can't bend yet, he has been cleaning the litter box. I go to the doc tomorrow and I hope the bending restriction will be lifted at leas by the time Chad leaves. I have been coming along very well and have almost stopped all the pain meds. I only take them once in a while when I am having a hard time sleeping.

I haven't caught up on all the comments but I hope to do that soon. I hope everyone is well.

Just_Lin said...

HOdi I'm glad you had a nice and uneventful flight. It's so nice of Sue to have leied you both. It sounds like your vacation is off to a wonderful start. So.....when you can't have Spotted Cow, what do you get?

Just_Lin said...

Barb I was just going to check to see if you had found your way back into the nest yet. I'm glad you are doing so well. Maybe if you had a stool to sit on next to the litter box you wouldn't have to bend over as far.

I've been watching "Astronaut Wives" and I agree that they weren't treated that well by today's standards. They were just expected to be the pretty little woman who stands by her hubby's side and not much more than that.

Jodi said...

BARB - So good to see you here! I'm glad your recovery is coming along. Yes, this trip is twofold. To celebrate our anniversary and to attend Angie's wedding.

Jodi said...

SLIN - Last night I substituted with Blue Moon. I guess instead of a Hulamoo, it's a Hulamoon! Ha!!

Jodi said...

I'm resting after our trip up to the North Shore today. We met up with a gal from my hometown for lunch. She and her marine hubby are stationed here. She is young and having a baby in a couple of weeks. I know she appreciated seeing a familiar face from home. We met up at Kenekes (where we had met Sunway for lunch last time). That Kalua pig is still to die for!! Paul found an AA meeting close by. I'm waiting for him to get back so we can watch the sunset together. Have a good night!

Jodi said...

Merrrnin' HOoters! Even in paradise I'm an early riser. We are heading out early today to Pearl Harbor. I am then taking Paul up to the Pali Lookout. When we get back I think we will relax by the pool. It's on the 3rd floor and has great views of both Diamondhead and the ocean. Meeting TURTLE later for dinner before Sunway's gig at LBLE.

Have a great day!

Just_Lin said...

HOdi It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. Thanks for the updates. It makes me feel like I'm along for the ride. Your hotel sounds really nice, too.

Mary/MI said...

Hodi, How I wish I was a tiny bird stowing away in your bra,er, I mean luggage lol!!
Memories of my last trip there with the owls are flowing back!
I forget how long you will be there.

Donna! Good hearing from you! Your son is one special guy to take such good care of his Mom! Let's hope those restrictions are lifted soon! Keeping everything crossed!

Dianne, I cannot believe all the trouble you have had with your teeth! When you smile they look great. I hope you can de-stress before your appointment!

JL, I lol! @ what you wrote. It just hit my-in-the-gutter sense of humor!
"stool to sit on next to the litter box " Some how "stool" and litter box just cracked me up!

Mary/MI said...

SacBarb, sorry I renamed you "Donna lol!!
I am beginning to question my sanity! Must be the flu shot lol! Good excuse as any!!!

Dianne/Denver said...

Mary. Who the heck is Donna? You and Barb always gave me such a hard time mixing up your names and now I'm even more confused. I have had a lot of dental issues and hate them but really dreading this one on Monday.

Tomorrow is my exciting dr to see why my iron is so low and if they should set up an appt for a scoping for me. All this plus I'm so,short of breath is starting to make me a little depressed. I had Louis take me to hair appt today as the handicap parking is far from hair place. I hate to interrupt his work but I was just nervous about the walk. I'm not liking this....

Jodi, I love hearing your daily excursions. It's like we r with u. Thanks for sharing and keep having fun. Tell Sue hi for me. Was it really crowded at Pearl Harbor? I've been there but would love to get Louis over there.

JL. Sounds like you had a nice day. I so wish I lived by you.

Barb, it's so great to see you. Glad to hear you're doing well. I'm sure you're going to miss Chad but now u have those kittens to ke you company. When can you start driving? Maybe you will find that out at the dr tomorrow. Good luck.

Dianne/Denver said...

New blog