WYSO

The Best of the Book Nook: An Interview With John Glenn

Jan 18, 2016

In 1999 John Glenn published a book called "John Glenn: a Memoir." Glenn never intended to write down his life story but he changed his mind after deciding that some tape recordings he made for his grandchildren might merit a larger audience. Glenn and his wife Annie made the recordings so that their grandkids could know more about their lives.

And what a life they have had together! In this 1999 interview the author describes how he first met his future wife. Their parents had been friends and they had met as toddlers in a playpen somewhere in the small town of New Concord, Ohio. That means that John Glenn first met Annie Glenn over ninety years ago. Glenn will turn 95 in July.

This interview was recorded during the period when I hosted the Excursions music program each weekday. The Book Nook segments ran during the 2 o'clock hour. Senator Glenn called me punctually at 1:59. I was just getting ready to provide the station ID then transition into the five minute top of the hour National Public Radio News break. I had enough time to realize that it would be rude to ask him to stay on hold for five minutes before conducting this live interview. So I decided on the spot to roll over NPR news and go straight into the interview.

And that is exactly what we did. It ended up becoming the longest interview in the history of this program. We talked about his small town roots and his early love of aviation. We got into his military career as a pilot in WWII and the Korean War. We talked about his time spent as a test pilot. Then we delved into his memories of being one of the first astronauts. The previous year Glenn had returned to space to become the oldest person who has ever left the planet.

And that is all that we covered in this edited version of that interview. Glenn served those four terms in the US Senate. He ran for president. He went back into outer space. What a life he has had. And he is still living it. John Glenn was my first American hero. And all these years later he is still my hero.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio:  the Greene County Public LibraryWashington-Centerville Public Library, MidPointe Library SystemClark County Public Library and the Dayton Metro Library.