Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport is getting a little better at recognizing native sons for their contributions to the world, but we seem to be leaving one guy out of our tourist pamphlets.
Most people in Lockport are becoming familiar with the name William G. Morgan. He’s the guy that is credited with inventing the game of volleyball. He invented the game in Holyoke, Massachusetts, but he was born in Lockport, New York. That is not a bad guy to have listed in the “Lockport Map of the Stars,” but he isn’t who I am talking about.
Birdsill Holly was a creative genius who was born in Auburn, New York in 1820. He moved to Lockport in 1851 and set up a factory along the Erie Canal where he did all of the work he was remembered for. Holly invented a lot of things and died ranked only second behind Thomas Edison in the number of awarded patents.
The most famous thing Holly did was develop the foundation for the modern fire hydrant system. Lockport was one of the first cities in the world with modern fire hydrants, and that is pretty cool. That is still not the guy I am talking about though.
William Gregory is one of our very favorite sons, and for good reason. Gregory was born in Lockport and graduated from Lockport Senior High School in 1975. Twenty years later, Gregory was part of the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour. I will never forget the way which NASA allowed Mr. Gregory to speak to the students of Lockport Senior High School while he was on the shuttle. It was a moment that we should all be proud of and a moment that Lockport will never forget.
William Gregory will probably be remembered as one of the most significant Lockportians of all time. He has earned his spot on the Lockport visitor’s pamphlet along with acclaimed artist, and true Lockport treasure, Joe Whalen. But there is one guy that we always seem to forget when we are discussing famous people who were born in the city of Lockport.
Has anyone ever heard of Robert Thurston? When I was growing up on Oliver Street in Lockport, we all knew about the Thurston’s house. It was the blue house with the long driveway that sat next to the Baker’s house and across the street from the Abbott house. The Thurston’s were nice people and I always liked talking to them when I had the chance. I had no idea that their son Robert helped to write several episodes of one of my favorite television series of all time; “Battlestar Galactica.”
When I was a kid, “Battlestar Galactica” was one of those television shows that I never missed. I had the toys and I had the posters on my wall. I know that the series was recently revised with a new cast and new writers. But, I have to confess, I have never watched the new version. I wanted to keep that image of the original series in my head as one of my finer childhood memories.
I remember someone mentioning that Robert Thurston was coming to visit his parents on Oliver Street back in the early 1980s, and that he had something to do with “Battlestar Galactica.” I remember seeing broken “Battlestar Galactica” cigarette lighters scattered all over Oliver Street the day after he left, but I never got a chance to meet him.
Robert Thurston helped to write eight episodes of the original “Battlestar Galactica” series, along with its creator Glen A. Larson. He was also involved with the Isaac Asimov “Robots” project, which was a series of books written by other authors, but tied loosely to Isaac Asimov’s “Robot” series of short stories. Robert Thurston wrote the novel in the series titled “Intruder.”
Robert Thurston has also written a long list of published short stories that include “Carolyn’s Laughter,” “Under Seige” and “Searching the Ruins.” He did most of his work in the 1970s, but he has plenty of titles that were released in the 1980s,1990s and 2000s as well.
When you consider the impact that “Battlestar Galactica” had on television and its huge success, it is important to remember that a Lockport native son helped to launch that whole thing. I would love to have sat down and talked with Robert Thurston, just to see where some of the ideas for the book and the show came from.
So, as we update the “Lockport Map of the Stars,” we need to include the Lockport home of Robert Thurston. He is someone whose imagination became a huge part of the childhoods of millions of people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. The best part is, he lived just a few houses down from where I grew up, in the little ol’ city of Lockport, New York.George N Root III is a Lockport resident and shameless name dropper. His column appears every Wednesday and he wonders if Robert Thurston has ever seen it before. Robert Thurston is more than welcome to contact George by email at email@example.com.