Visitors to the Cincinnati Museum Center won’t be able to see the Apollo 11 spacecraft “Columbia” until the exhibit opens on Sept. 28, but local residents can see a 1/25th scale model of the vehicle plus other collector’s items of the first moon landing mission at the Highland County District Library in Hillsboro beginning July 8 and running throughout the month.
On July 20, 1969, 38-year old Ohio native Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. To commemorate the historic event, the Hillsboro library will host an exhibit of mementos and museum-quality scale models from a Times-Gazette reporter who has followed the space program since childhood.
Tim Colliver said that the first space mission he can remember was John Glenn’s flight in Feb. 1962, when he was just a little more than 4 years old.
“The reason I remembered it was that it always struck me odd, in a child’s way of thinking at least, that he had two first names — John and Glenn,” Colliver said.
Through the ensuing years, he became a collector, historian and speaker on both the American and Soviet space programs, adding newspapers, magazines, books and other collector items to his library, in addition to crafting ordinary model kits into high-quality pieces.
One such model is the Apollo 11 landing site which will be one of many items on display in the library’s table display case, which Colliver said took only an hour to build, but more than a month to customize.
Another smaller model of the complete Apollo spacecraft displayed over the moon took an extra month to modify as well.
“It’s amazing what you can do with wire from paperclips and the gold wrapper from Rolo candy,” he said. “And the invention of super glue was really a life saver.”
Other items in his collection may look like toys, but are actually expensive collector’s items he picked up over the years.
One of those items is a 1/25th scale model of Columbia, depicting the spacecraft as it appeared at the Smithsonian on its display pedestal.
“If they can’t wait until September or aren’t able to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center, they can check out my Columbia,” Colliver said. “She’s accurate in every detail and I propped open the hatch so you can see inside.”
A three-foot tall Saturn V rocket was given to Colliver by his mother in 1994 for the 25th anniversary of the mission and a 12-inch fully articulated Apollo astronaut saluting the flag on the moon was acquired in 2003.
“The most expensive thing I’ve bought was a Soyuz cosmonaut’s communications headset,” Colliver said. “The company couldn’t verify if it flew to the Mir space station or was used at their Star City training complex, but I gave almost $400 for it.”
“My wife, Clarine, told me ‘you’ve got things that you had before you and me,’” he said. “She said ‘buy it because I know you’ll have it the rest of your life.’”
Other items on display at the library include newspapers from the day man walked on the moon, magazines, pictures, trading cards, record albums and a moon lander toy that Colliver said was filled with nonpareil candy and cost all of 29 cents when it was purchased at the former Ayer’s Drug Store in Hillsboro.
Colliver’s more than three-decades in broadcasting allowed him to meet people such as music and TV stars, political figures and some astronauts. However, he admits that interviewing and having coffee with three of the 12 men that walked on the moon actually weren’t the three most important events of his life.
“Not counting my wedding day, three of the most important events in my life all have names,” he said. “Scott, Andrew and Daniel — being there for the birth of my three boys.”