a tree: "At the age of seventeen (Robert Hutchings) Goddard (who would later be called the father of American rocketry) climbed a cherry tree to trim branches and happened to look at the countryside below him...and realized how wonderful it would be to make some device in which he could ascend towards the planets, watching the earth recede as he went. He relates that he was a 'different boy when he descended the ladder. Life now had a purpose for me.'" (Osman,1983)
threat clouds: A flight of incoming enemy missiles. "The earth we would depart from is also the earth we have wired for destruction. Thus the death we would escape comes back to haunt us in the shape of the nuclear clouds of annihilation." (Romanyshyn.1989)
failiors: "Failior crowns enterprise." -Goddard in boyhood notebook. "In the emptiness and rubble (of Hiroshima), people walked wearing 'an expression of wanting nothing more.' Many of them thought of why some had lived while so many had died." (Browne & Munroe,1981)
the test: "War sets hard problems, affords the investigator opportunities to test his results in actual practice, is not niggardly with funds; therefore it is not to be wondered at that war gets results from laboratories." (Gray,1943). Although supported by a small grant from the Smithsonian Institution, Goddard's work didn't progress far until the United States entered W.W.I. Then, with a government grant in hand, he began applying his theories to the development of machines of war. Later, during W.W.II, Goddard enthusiastically worked for the Navy.
education: Robert H. Goddard Senior High School is located in Roswell, NM, near where Dr. Goddard had his workshop from 1930 to 1932, and again, from 1934 until 1942, when the Navy moved him to Annapolis.
nervous Nell: All of Goddard's rocket tests were named "Nell," after a student of his said, "They ain't done right by our Nell;" meaning the press had blown the dangers of a test out of proportion. Nell, here, also refers to "nervous Nellys," which is what President Lyndon Johnson called protestors of the Vietnam War.
fume: "In the third century B.C., the story went that, as Marcius was addressing this troops, 'without his feeling it, flame steamed out of his head to the great alarm of the soldiers standing about.'" (Onians,195l)
ashes: "By the time I graduated from high school, I had a set of models which would not work and a number of suggestions which, from the physics I had learned, I now knew were erroneous. Accordingly, one day I gathered together all the notes I could find and burned them in the little wood stove in the dining room." (Goddard,1960, P.25). While poet Gary Snyder "raised pure flames/With mystic fists and muttered charms!", then burned "All the poems I wrote before nineteen..." (G. Snyder. From, "To Fire.")