jump to navigation

Steve Weinberg and From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 21, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Steve Weinberg, a Columbia-based investigative journalist and author of six books, will be introducing Dianna Borsi O’Brien at the Thursday, June 22 reading/signing of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

The event will be 5 to 7 p.m. in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St. If you can’t attend, the book will continue to be on sale at the BCHS as well as Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St.

Of course, all books are works of many hands, but in this case, Weinberg literally helped the book get started.

In 2007, Jon Gehrke called Weinberg about possibly working with Charles W. Gehrke to write his biography but Weinberg didn’t have space in his schedule. So Weinberg suggested Jon Gehrke call his former graduate student and fellow journalist O’Brien — and as they say, the rest is history.

From 2007 to 2009, O’Brien and Charles W. Gehrke worked on the book that outlines Gehrke’s childhood, from his childhood poverty growing up in Canal Lewisville, Ohio, near Coshocton, to his education at Ohio State University to his arrival at the University of Missouri, his NASA work analyzing the moon rocks of the Apollo mission, founding of ABC Labs, which employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout, and his family life along the way.

Yet, the book was more than the product of Gehrke and O’Brien’s efforts. The University of Missouri Archives office found crucial materials including a recording of a radio show from the 1970s that featured Gehrke speculating that scientists might actually find life on the moon, something we scoff at today.

Dozens of people gave their time during interviews, replied to email queries and helped during the reporting process for the book. Then when the manuscript was ready, the first edit was done by Karen Pojmann, a fellow journalist who has worked as an editor with several publications. The manuscript went through several other edits as well as the design process by Ginny Booker and publishing processes by Yolanda Ciolli of Compass Flower Press.

And along the way, Weinberg was there with suggestions, support and guidance. Now, he’ll get to give the introduction before the reading and book signing of the author of a book he literally started.

Other options

Can’t attend?

  • Come to see O’Brien at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Columbia Mall for local author’s day.
  • Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. has the book on its shelves.
  • Contact O’Brien via this website and receive the book by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.  Buy Now Button
  • The book is on amazon.com as well.

 

 

 

Four solutions to an over-packed schedule June 15, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Yikes! I know the feeling. You just can’t fit everything in and you’re not going to be able to attend the 5-7 p.m. Thursday, June 22 reading of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks at the Boone County Historical Society. But you still want to get your hands on that book!

Charles W. Gehrke, circa 1928.

Charles W. Gehrke as a boy, circa 1928.

Aside from the tragedy of not getting to enjoy the mini-cupcakes at the reading, don’t worry. Here are four ways to get the book without coming to the reading.

Come to see me at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Columbia Mall for local author’s day. I’ll be there with bookmarks to hand out! I’ll have chocolate, too. Not mini-cupcakes, but close.

  • Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. — Yes, that cute little bookshop downtown right across the street from Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream — almost like mini-cupcakes! — Has the book on its shelves.
  • Contact me via this website and I’ll mail the book to you! Easy peasy, through the old fashioned snail mail system for $20 plus tax and shipping. And you don’t even have to get out of your jammies. Just click below.Buy Now Button 
  • The book is on amazon.com, too! I haven’t checked, but you could probably order mini-cupcakes from the online behemoth. Again, all in your jammies.

If none of these options work, really, I’d love to see you at the book reading at the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St. It’s just 5-7 p.m. and I’ll even sign your book for you!

 

 

Three reasons to read From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 13, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Why do people read? So many reasons and all of them good for you — the list is below!

That’s why I would love for you to read my book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, and attend the book reading from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 22 at the Boone County Historical Society.

  • To find yourself: Discovering and creating yourself is one of 10 reasons people read, according to the website whytoread.com, a site designed to encourage reading. In From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, you’ll be able to see yourself in the experiences of the late Columbia resident Charles W. Gehrke, 1917-2009. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in Charles’s experience, growing up poor but that keep him from becoming successful. He was an MU professor from 1949-1987. Perhaps you’ll be able to identify with Charles who toiled in jobs he didn’t necessarily like, such as inspecting slaughtering houses and restaurants for cleanliness. Perhaps you, too, know what it’s like to experience loss. Charles went through the grief of the loss of two infants and an adult son. The list could go on, but perhaps reading From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks might help you see yourself and perhaps imagine something else for yourself, as Charles did when he went off to college, when he began to investigate the moon rocks instead of agricultural fertilizers.
  • To learn: People also read to learn, says whytoread.com. In From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, Charles tells about what it was like to be a young boy working on a farm in the 1920s and 1930s, how he would jump into the nearby canal to cool off and to stop the nagging itch of wheat mites. He describes why they stacked the wheat sheaves a certain way so rain would run off rather than into the stack. This is information we’re rapidly losing, but you can learn about it by reading.
  • For entertainment: I don’t know about you, but I love to lose myself in a good book. Cares and troubles fall away as I enter another world, one where there is no dust to clean, no deadlines to meet or pesky bills to pay. This is another reason whytoread.com says people read. In From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, you’ll be transported into a man’s life where his teachers went to his mother’s house to convince her to send him to college, to a time when Charles turned to friends to start a company that went on to employ 300 people before it was sold in 2015 to a global scientific firm, a moment in history when no one knew whether there was life on the moon or not, when a man walking on the moon was fearful and amazing at the same time.

Of course, you can also buy the book at Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. or order it below for $20 plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

Yellow Dog and Moon Rocks June 9, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

So what does Yellow Dog Bookshop have to do with moon rocks? The bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St., Columbia, is now selling the book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.”

The book is about Charles W. Gehrke, who analyzed for life the moon rocks brought back from the NASA Apollo moon missions from 1969-1972. Gehrke also founded Columbia-based ABC Labs, which employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout by global firm EAG Laboratories.

The book, "From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks", now for sale at Yellow Dog Bookshop on Ninth Street, Columbia, Missouri.

The book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks”, now for sale at Yellow Dog Bookshop on Ninth Street, Columbia, Missouri.

If you’d like a signed copy, author Dianna Borsi O’Brien will be signing and reading from the book from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22 at the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St., Columbia, Missouri. RSVP to dobrien387@gmail.com

Or you can buy a signed copy of the biography and have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

So what’s From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks about?

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support their family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA which would soon launch missions to the moon. Charles was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript I uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs, a firm that was the first tenant of Columbia, Missouri’s research park, Discovery Ridge. The company employed 300 people before it was purchased by EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was published March 2017.

Buy it here now:

Have a signed copy shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

 

 

June 22 signing of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 7, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events, Publications.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Come and enjoy light snacks, wine and a reading from the newly published book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.” The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22, 2017 in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St., Columbia, Missouri.

The book follows Charles W. Gehrke from his poor childhood in the foothills of the Appalachians to his success as a scientist who analyzed the moon rocks brought back from the Apollo moon landings and an entrepreneur who founded with two colleagues ABC Labs, which employed 300 people before its 2015 buyout by a global firm.

The book will be for sale at the Boone County Historical Society at the event and then in the BCHS’s shop from then on.

What? Can’t make it to this event? More events are coming!

The book is also available directly from the author, Dianna Borsi O’Brien, via this website.

Now available — the biography of Charles W. Gehrke, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

You can buy a signed copy here by clicking the PayPal button below.

The book is also available through  amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.

A signing and book launch is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr Street, Columbia. RSVP to Dianna O’Brien at dobrien387@gmail.com

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

So what’s From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks about?

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support their family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA which would soon launch missions to the moon. Charles was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript the author uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs. The company thrived and before its buy out in 2015 it employed about 300 people. Today, ABC Labs now part of EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was released in April 2017.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

 

Melon Fields book launched April 27, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in Publications.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

With a headline of “From Columbia to the moon: Charles Gehrke’s biography charts his path, the Columbia Missourian published an article about the book “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.”

Written by Marta Payne and published April 27, 2017, it provides an excellent summary of the book and Gehrke’s accomplishments. It also notes that the inaugural book launch was held on Wednesday, April 26.

If you missed the event, another book signing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22, 2017 in the Boone County Historical Society. If you want to read the book now, you can buy it here or from Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St., Columbia Missouri.

You can also buy it here now by clicking the PayPal button below.From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

The book is also available through  amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

Here’s more about  “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.”

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support the family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA, which would soon launch missions to the moon. Gehrke was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript the author uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs. The company thrived and before its buy out in 2015 it employed about 300 people. Today, ABC Labs now part of EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks” highlights the adventurous life of Gehrke, an MU biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was released in April 2017.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

The story behind melon fields and moon rocks at book signing April 26, 2017 April 23, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

“From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” the book about Charles W. Gehrke will be officially launched with a book signing from 5 to 7 pm. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Orr Street Studios in Columbia, Missouri.

Perhaps you’re wondering what melon fields have to do with moon rocks? Dianna Borsi O’Brien will talk about that and the man behind the science at the book launch and signing.

Charles W. Gehrke eats a water melon on the fields he worked in Canal Lewisville, Ohio, circa 1928.

Charles W. Gehrke eats a water melon on the fields he worked in Canal Lewisville, Ohio, circa 1928.

Can’t make it? Here’s the connection: Gehrke, an MU biochemistry professor and founder of ABC Labs, literally worked his way up to those positions. He spent his youth working as a field hand to help support his mother and four siblings. Here’s a photo of Charles, circa 1928, taking some time off.

You’ll be able to buy a signed copy on Wednesday or buy it here now by clicking the PayPal button below.From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

The book is also available through  amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

Here’s more about  “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.”

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support the family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA, which would soon launch missions to the moon. Gehrke was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript the author uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs. The company thrived and before its buy out in 2015 it employed about 300 people. Today, ABC Labs now part of EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks” highlights the adventurous life of Gehrke, an MU biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was released in April 2017.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

Available now — From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks March 30, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events, Publications.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Now available — the biography of Charles W. Gehrke, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

You can buy a signed copy here by clicking the PayPal button below.

The book is also available through  amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.

A signing and book launch is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr Street, Columbia. RSVP to Dianna O’Brien at dobrien387@gmail.com

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

So what’s From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks about?

Charles W. Gehrke was unflinching. Determined. Persistent.

He grew up among the poorest of the poor, yet carried only happy memories of those early years. Out of necessity he learned the value of hard work, as he and his brother helped support their family even as children — but he never complained and never stopped working even during his final days on this earth.

In the 1960s, his work searching for amino acids, the building blocks of life, drew the attention of NASA which would soon launch missions to the moon. Charles was tapped to investigate the lunar samples for signs of life. Spoiler alert: He didn’t find any — but a transcript the author uncovered of a radio program from that time shows that he thought he would.

In 1968, he did something else unusual at the time and brought his research to the marketplace, launching ABC Labs. The company thrived and before its buy out in 2015 it employed about 300 people. Today, ABC Labs now part of EAG Laboratories, a global scientific services company headquartered in San Diego.

The book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks highlights the adventurous life of Charles W. Gehrke, a biochemist, entrepreneur and family man.

Published by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker, the book was released in April 2017.

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

NASA and Charles W. Gehrke September 14, 2011

Posted by diannaobrien in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Today’s NY Times article about NASA announcement about developing a powerful rocket to take astronauts into deep space could make it easy to forget how uncertain space travel even to the moon once was.

The history of NASA’s early plans to land on the moon is part of the still to be published autobiography of Charles W. Gehrke, From the Melon Fields to the Moon.

In researching for the book, I found a recording of an interview of Charles for a University of Missouri radio program called “University Up-Close.” The program is archived and made available by University Archives, Division of Special Collections, Archives and Rare Books of the MU Libraries at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

In the program, Charles says,

“I doubt there’s much question that what we might find will be either one of two things: We’ll find absolutely nothing except for a bunch of rocks with all the inorganic material in them or it will be at the other extreme, that there will be considerable organic materials in these samples as well as even the possibility as rather complex organic molecules. I really believe we will find these molecules.” (Material provided by the University Archives, University of Missouri-Columbia.)

Today, we take it for granted there’s no life on the moon and no danger of killer germs from our nearest space neighbor, but at the time, when the first person walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, things weren’t as certain.

But what’s important is that Charles and his team of scientists — like those at NASA today — persevered despite the unknowns at the time. That’s a powerful lesson Charles’ autobiography can still teach us, that it is persistence that makes the difference between success and failure.

 

 

Literary agent reviewing From the Melon Fields to the Moon August 24, 2011

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

A literary agent has expressed interest in the manuscript of From the Melon Fields to the Moon.

Getting a book published takes time, from gathering the information to write the book to finding the right agent to find a publisher for the work. Charles W. Gehrke and I began our work together in March of 2007. It started with an outline he’d written and continued through years of interviews of him and 38 of his former colleagues, students and associates. Then, after the death of Charles in February 2009 at 91, as I promised him shortly before his death, I finished the book using the materials from documents and the interviews already recorded.

Now, the next step is getting an agent who will seek a publisher for the book. An agent is reviewing the manuscript and will provide feedback in a few weeks.

Approaching an agent included developing a book proposal for this rag-to-riches story, which is a story with a twist. Because Charles’s story isn’t just that he began life working in the melon fields, it is about how he went from his humble beginnings to a career that included — but didn’t just include — working on the rarest of scientific samples, the moon rocks from the NASA Apollo moon missions.

The keys to his success were not just his intelligence and hard work, but included his bravado, networking and even some publicity hound tendencies.

Another key to his success was his persistence. Even when he analyzed the moon rocks, he and his team didn’t just do it once, he always noted. They ran the tests over and over to make sure the results were accurate.

And that’s the key to finishing this book and to getting it published. Persistence. Now it’s time to wait for the agent to review the book. And if this agent rejects it, another agent will be sought.

After all, that’s what Charles W. Gehrke would have done.