John Kleeman's son, Peter, was three years old and casually mentioned he wished he had a "Star Wars" spaceship to fly around in.
Well, Peter got exactly that on his fourth birthday. It was hand-crafted by his father. It's quite literally just plywood, some plastic, an old office chair, a flashlight, a rusty barn door latch, and a stove burner cover that resembles a blaster sight. But to a four-year-old future space junkie, it was out of this world. And it was the catalyst for a decades-long collection of star stuff.
That collection, housed in a giant hay barn in rural Connecticut, is unavailable to you, I'm afraid. There are zoning and safety and a hundred other bureaucratic concerns that make it so. However, the Kleemans were kind enough to allow us inside.
Their celebration of the cultural significance of us humans going to space is really something to behold. They hope to one day make it available to the public. An I'm on their side.
But all those robots, ray-guns and rocketships pale in comparison to the most remarkable thing this reporter saw in that old hay barn.
A father found a connection to his young son, and has cultivated it throughout their lives. They told me nearly every item in that huge barn, and in what has to be a rather large off-site storage unit, was found one-by-one, over countless weekends and vacations and excursions, by a little dude and his dad. On a mission, together. Wow. That's quite an enterprise.