If you want to see small town USA at its finest, exit Interstate-94 North at Sparta for a visit to the Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bicycle Museum! Monroe County Wisconsin's favorite son shares his wing of the museum with the town's claim as Bicycle Capital of the USA. And yes, Deke's two-wheeler from his childhood is also on display. Sometimes the charm of old-fashioned values and new-fashioned spaceflight sort of hits you just about right - and this is just such a place.
Deke's Mercury pressure suit raises an arm in greeting as you enter the gallery. He was of course one of the famed Mercury Seven - the first U.S. astronauts. Due to Deke's unpopular grounding for a minor heart murmur, there was no Delta 7 flight - which was to be the second Mercury orbital mission, following John Glenn's in 1962. Thus the shiny silver suit was relegated to training role, and never flew as Deke's environmental protection. His backup Apollo suit, twin to the one which he finally got to wear into space, is on display at Space Center Houston.
Deke's memorial represents the widest array of personal artifacts and genuine expressions of affection that can only come from a small town full of traditional Midwestern-American values. News clippings, family snapshots, and his wartime mementos coexist with relics from his triumphant ride to orbit aboard Apollo-Soyuz (left) - a dozen years after he should have first flown. Add the many other USAF presentos and NASA tributes, flightsuits, medals, and wings, and you have a enjoyably complete picture of a legendary leading figure in U.S. spaceflight.