Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chuck Yeager, 'The Right Stuff' on tap for Literary Journalists again

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Tom Wolfe's classic book about the U.S. space program, The Right Stuff, will be up for discussion again Monday night in Literary Journalism class.

The book got generally good reviews in the first round of class chatter - I even got to tell my Chuck Yeager story.

Chuck Yeager about the time he broke the sound barrier

A much older Chuck Yeager

I had just taken over as editor of The Union newspaper in Grass Valley in 1980 - after a particularly bruising time in the newsroom with a rebellious staff. I came back from lunch to find a grinning Chuck Yeager, sitting in my editor's chair with his cowboy boots on the deck, heels digging into some papers I had left there.

I went straight for the desk and told Yeager to get his $^%&#&* boots off my desk, embarrassing the then-chair of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, Eric Rood, who had brought Yeager in to show him off.

He and Yeager had served in the US Air Force together.

I had no idea who Yeager was, and in hindsight all these years later, I probably still would have told him to get his $^%&#&* boots off my desk had I known that the cocky guy sitting in my chair was the legendary Chuck Yeager.

Yeager and I met a few times after that at Nevada County social functions and laughed (sort of) at that incident.