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The Infamous B & H "Rustoff" Reunion!
5 PM -- June 28th, 2014 at the
Merritt Island Moose Lodge


WHAT was the "RustOff" all about?
By Bill Heink

Rust Off photo 1

Rust Off photo 2

Rust Off photo 3

Rust Off photo 4

Rust Off photo 5

An old timer's reunion? KSC and the RustOff? What is this all about?

Here's the background.

A group of us old ner-do-wells that used to frequent the B & H store on north Merritt Island as our favorite after work "watering hole" -- pretty regularly you may recall -- decided we should have a reunion of some of the old KSC gang before everyone dies! We concluded that a good attraction would be to re-live the crazy Rustoff competition we held in the summer of 1986.

I'm sure some of you remember, but in the Spring of 1986 most of us Shuttle guys had morale that was lower than a snake after the loss of Challenger in January. So later in the Spring, over beers at the B & H, a bunch of us started talking about what we might do to collectively drag us all out of our despair, and someone (I'm pretty sure it was Maria Metcalf) came up with a ridiculous idea of holding a competition to see who had the ugliest, rustiest, most disreputable pick up truck. After general agreement that it was a great idea (beer does wonders for gaining consensus!), we somehow conned Bob Lang and Gene Nurnberg into being the contestants and the game was on. We papered KSC with Flyers announcing this great Friday afternoon party at the B & H and by the time contest time arrived there were an estimated 400 people at the B & H! Owner Fred Jewett probably sold more beer that afternoon than he did in a normal 6 months!

The planned start time was 4 PM, and at 3:55 Lang and his rusty, cruddy, ugly black GMC were there, but no sign of Nurnberg. We feared a forfeit! But at 3:59, from the south we heard a roar that sounded like an M1A1 Abrams Tank, and Nurnberg and his old rust-riddled red and white Ford roared up, without a muffler of course -- and complete with the right side bed panel -- which was rusted away at the front right behind the cab -- flapping wildly in the breeze. Game on for sure!

John Tribe and I had created detailed judging criteria in total secrecy, and recruited some trustworthy (?) judges, including John Janokitis (Sr.), Ted Carey, John Presnell, Dick Metcalf, and others, who did not get to see the criteria until that afternoon when we handed them a clipboard and told them to start judging. The criteria had some crazy stuff on it -- in addition to just being an ugly and disreputable truck the vehicle got 15 extra points for a gun rack in the rear window, 25 points if there was a gun in the rack, and 50 points if there was a pistol in the glove box.

I added the "(?)" about the judges being "trustworthy" because one of the high points of the afternoon was a little shenanigan that occurred during the judging. Dick Metcalf was quietly pulling for Lang, so when he saw the gun criteria, he quickly went into the store where Fred was selling beer, and asked Fred to let him have the pistol that we all knew was always under the counter. Fred, of course, said "no way", but Dick somehow convinced him so Fred unloaded the gun, handed it to Dick, who quietly slipped it into Lang's glove box. Lang ended up winning and I suspect that extra 50 points was the reason! Lang damned near S**T when he saw the gun in HIS glove box!

Anyway, whether you were there or not, it was a stupendous affair and about 400 people had a ball. I think most of us felt that it was one of the major turning points that got us all back in the groove after Challenger.

So we want to be sure everyone knows about this reunion and hope you will come and join us if you can. Below are a few pictures of that afternoon, and the Flyer is attached. Please feel free to share this Flyer with as many people as you know who might want to come. It is not our plan to restrict this to just the old time B&H-ers, and hope that anyone who worked at KSC will feel welcome! The more the merrier!


P.S. If you have any old pictures of that era -- not just the B&H, but anything related to work and Shuttle, please see if you can scan them and send them to me at If we can get enough we'll put a slide show together to play during the party. We have a copy of the "official" RustOff video and definitely plan to show that.

Below are the pictures! Look at these pictures and note how much younger we all look. I guess 28 years does that!

U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum

308 Pine Street
Downtown Titusville
P. O. Box 6385
Titusville, FL 32782-6385
(321) 264-0434
Open Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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