In Search Of…Deke Slayton Museum 7/28/05

 

“3…2…1…liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery, beginning America’s new journey to the moon, mars and
beyond.”

But it was America’s first journey to space that many area residents hold dear. You might not know this…but the
Mercury Seven crew, the pioneers of the space program…included the likes of John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Sparta
native Deke Slayton. “Deke was born right here in Sparta, Wisconsin in the hospital that’s only a block from here, he
graduated from Sparta High School.”

Kay Bender is the Executive Director of Sparta’s own Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bike Museum. It opened it’s
doors in 1999 and highlights this local hero and also the rich biking history the city is known for. “The museum is a
progression of transportation from the first bikes to the Wright brothers flight into outerspace. There’s something for
everybody here.”

Coming here you will learn all about Deke’s younger years. “Fort McCoy had a great influence on him simply because
of all the airplanes that flew through the area.” You’ll hear interesting stories. “When Deke was 5 years old, he
lost his ring finger in a farm accident. When he applied to be a pilot, he had to meet a certain criteria including
having all five fingers….but you can be missing the ring fnger of your left hand. Any other finger and he never
would have been a pilot.”

You’ll see actual pieces of space history. “We’re pleased to have an actual Mercury 7 suit that belonged to Deke
here in the museum.”

Deke passed away in 1993, but this month the museum is marking a milestone in his space career. “Deke slayton flew
in one mission in outer space. It was called Apollo Soyuz and we’re actually celebrating 30 years of that
flight.”

From the first journey…to the journeys unknown…this Sparta native has carved a permanent place in America’s
space history.

We went in search of a place that take you out of this world….we found it.

If you would like to check out the museum, it’s open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 – 4:30, Sundays from 1:00 –
4:00. For more information call 1-888-200-5302.

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