Pogue and his fellow Skylabbers wanted more time to think

Oklahoma State University is a lot of things. Boring is not one of those things.

From the cheese fries and cartoonish t-shirts at Eskimo Joe's – both favorites of George H.W. Bush, who gave the commencement address there in 1990 – to an equally cartoonish tycoon T. Boone Pickens who has donated a pile of money – large bills, no coins – to the university’s athletic programs recently, OSU is always at least entertaining.

Oklahoma State University is known for a lot of things. The university isn’t just famous for newspaper columnists who graduated 21 years ago, animal husbandry and individually wrapped slices of peanut butter (It’s true, OSU developed peanut butter in individually wrapped slices to make PB&J sandwiches even more convenient), but interesting astronauts as well.

Colonel William Pogue,, who died recently at the age of 84, got his Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Oklahoma State University before becoming an astronaut. Pogue wasn’t the first man to walk on the moon but he was one of the last men to pilot Skylab. His mission on Skylab was also the longest on the orbiting space station. One reason it was the longest is because he and the other two astronauts aboard the mission decided to go on strike.

Strikes in space have far shorter picket lines but the reasons for the work stoppage are far more interesting than just wanting more money or longer vacations.

In typical Aggie fashion, Pogue and his fellow Skylabbers wanted more time to think. I mean, how often does a guy get to go orbit the earth. He got tired of spending that magical time working on experiments all day every day.

He wanted a little “me time” to contemplate where he was above the world.

“We had been overscheduled,” Colonel Pogue wrote in one of his books. “We were just hustling the whole day. The work could be tiresome and tedious, though the view was spectacular.”

According to a New York Times report on his death, “(Pogue) told interviewers that he was particularly proud of contributing to spacecraft improvements in such facilities as toilets, showers, sleeping hammocks, exercise equipment, kitchens and a line of special plastic sacks known in the high-altitude trades as vomitus bags.”

If you were impressed that OSU grads developed sliced peanut butter, you have to be mesmerized by my fellow alum’s work on anti-gravity barf bags.

But Pogue went even further by writing a children’s book called “How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?”

His autobiography called, “But for the Grace of God: An Autobiography of an Aviator and Astronaut,” was released in 2011. Fellow astronaut Alan Bean said of Pogue’s autobiography, “But for the Grace of God is one of the two best memoirs ever written by an astronaut and should be required reading for every pilot or astronaut aspirant. In his book, Pogue packages his adventure-filled life into easy-to-read, inspiring tales that move swiftly from page to page. They are filled with his reverence for his family, God, nature, and mankind.”

I can’t wait to read his memoir. I hate that Pogue was already dead before I discovered I shared an alma mater with the man who led a strike on Skylab when I was three years old.

I would love to have found him at Eskimo Joe's and bought him some cheese fries and listened to some stories.

They would have been anything but boring.


Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com