Many of us created scrapbooks of our favorite things as kids, but Star Wars fan and NASA contractor Michael Grabois’s Star Wars scrapbook from 1977 is downright Force-tastic. Michael scanned his scrapbook for all to see. It might be rough around the edges but it’s full of charm.
StarWars.com chats with Michael about his scrapbook and how his love for Star Wars seeps into his work at NASA in unexpected ways.
Before we start chatting Star Wars, what do you do at NASA?
I currently work for a NASA contractor at the Johnson Space Center in Houston where I train astronauts and flight controllers how to operate the Space Shuttle. It’s the second coolest job in the world, behind actually being an astronaut.
What are your first memories of seeing Star Wars?
I grew up in Edison, NJ. My dad got transferred to Houston the summer when I was between 9th and 10th grade. I saw Star Wars and Empire in Edison (in a 2-screen theater that has long since been torn down) and Jedi in Houston.
What made you want to start a Star Wars scrapbook when you were a kid?
My best friend when I was a kid was Mark Bernard, and we were always in competition to see who had the best or the most of something at any given time. I was 3 months shy of my 11th birthday when Star Wars came out (Mark was 2 months younger than me). We were both nuts about Star Wars and we tried to one-up the other with how many times we saw the movie, or who had the most stuff related to the movie, things like that. In order to manage our collections, we each started a scrapbook.
My version mostly consisted of me cutting out movie theater ads, newspaper articles, trading card wrappers, merchandise ads, etc. Mark had more of the toys than I did, but we ended up blowing most of them up with firecrackers (I know, why did I blow them up when we could have saved them mint on the card?). Mark’s favorite character was Han Solo. I liked Han too, but Mark had called it first, and since we couldn’t both have Han as favorite, I chose Luke to be my next favorite. (It made sense at the time!)
What’s your favorite part of the scrapbook?
I’m not sure if I have a single favorite thing in the scrapbook — just going through it reminds me of being an 11-year old again, which I’m convinced was the perfect age to see Star Wars in the theater. I was just old enough to go by myself since the theater was just down the street. I went with my sister on opening weekend on a Saturday to see an early afternoon show, but the lines were so long that we got tickets for the 5pm show. I didn’t realize that meant we’d be in the theater during dinner, so we had to eat early so my sister and I could see the show. Of course, I was blown away, and that was the only one of the six movies that I did not see on opening day. I ended up seeing the movie about a dozen times in the theater, and when I saw the Special Edition re-releases it took me right back to being a kid again.
So maybe the cut-up box from the Series 1 trading cards could be my favorite thing in the scrapbook, as the pieces remind me of spending my hard-earned quarters buying packs of cards to get those elusive ones I was missing, and trying to cram all that bubble gum in my mouth at once. I did finally manage to get a full set of cards, though I didn’t complete my sticker set until the mid-1990s at the San Diego Comic Convention.
What’s the weirdest thing in the scrapbook?
The weirdest thing would probably be the top to the plastic bag that at one point contained Star Wars pajamas. I never had them, so I assume they must have been Mark’s. The weirdest thing NOT in the scrapbook — since they were in a separate box which I just found tonight — is a pair of R2-D2 socks, which I pretty much wore out in the summer of 1977 and saved them instead of throwing them out. (They were washed before I saved them).
Working at NASA have you ever dropped a few Star Wars references into the mix?
In the early 1990s I was working a console in Mission Control called Targeting. One day I found a card which I think was from the second 1977 series (red border) that had Luke in his X-Wing in the trench battle at the Death Star. I put the card on console with me right below my computer screen (at some point when nothing was going on), then powered off the screen. I said to myself out loud, “Mike, you’ve turned off your Targeting computer. What’s wrong?” Nobody else got it.
Check out all the photos from Michael scrapbook here:
1977 Star Wars scrapbook