Space City Seniors

Jim Lambert was a member of the Space City Seniors for three years, having first joined the group when he was 75 years old.  The following is a summary of our interview with Jim, which was conducted in December 2016. 

Name:                            Jim Lambert

Age:                                77 (as of Dec. 2015)

Resides In:                     Houston, TX

Education:                     PhD in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology (ITT).

Work History:               Boeing Engineer for 35 years.  Boeing Aerospace in Seattle, then Space Station in Houston.

Background:                 Jim retired from Boeing in 2006.  He then realized he wasn’t quite ready to retire so he joined Lockheed for four years to work on the Orion capsule for NASA.

 Jim and his wife Mary participate in a square dancing group.  One evening there was a flyer passed out – asking interested seniors to try out for the Houston Rockets “Senior Dance Team”.  This being a team of 20 seniors (age 55 or older) who would perform hip hop dancing during halftime at the NBA games.

AA:       Jim – how would you describe your Boeing career?

Jim:      I was a design engineer for Boeing Aerospace.  During my Seattle career our job was to make sure that “everything” would blow up.  Then I moved to Houston for the Space Station design work – where our job was to make sure that nothing would blow up.

AA:       What made you decide to try out for the Houston Rocket Senior Dance Team?

Jim:      We saw the flyer at our square dance group and I thought “Why not try something new?  I could learn something fun.”

AA:       Tell me about the tryout.

Jim:      One had to be 55 or older to tryout.  There were 60 people trying out for 20 positions.  During the dance tryout it was easy to identify the bottom 20 and top 10.  So that left 30 people competing for the remaining 10 positions.  And I was chosen.

AA:       How old were you when you tried out?

Jim:      70.  In fact my uniform had the number 70 on the back.

AA:       What can you share about the Senior Dance Team experience?

Jim:      We performed hip hop dance entertainment during halftime of Houston Rocket games.  About six games a year.  The routine was approximately 90 seconds in duration and it took a lot of work and practice to prepare for that performance.  We received shoes, a uniform, free parking, and seats for the game.

AA:       What was the most gratifying aspect of the experience?

Jim:      The fact that I could do it.  I had some moves I didn’t know I had.

AA:       How long were you a member of the Senior Dance Team?

Jim:      Three years.  The first two years it was just me and the third year it was my wife and I.

AA:       Any failures along the way?

Jim:      In year four we tried out and didn’t make the team, but I was ready to move on at that point.

AA:        Is there anything else on the horizon?

Jim:      We’ve been square dancing since 1996 and this past Fall we’ve gone through a series of classes for a higher level of square dancing.

AA:       How do you keep your brain engaged?

Jim:      I’ve been reading a few books on computer coding.  I taught myself Visual Basic.

AA:       What advice would you give to a 50-something re: the 2nd act of their life?

Jim:      Be open to new experiences – work, recreation, social groups.  Learn to play bridge.  Try fishing.  I learned to fly at age 57, and I’m still flying today.  I own a Cirrus SR22 with two friends.