Having a blast: Watertown man shares love of building model rockets

in People/Technology 167 views

SACKETS HARBOR — At Market on Main, the newest spot to shop in the village, a corner evokes nostalgia, wonder and excitement. Model rockets line the wooden shelves, both a reminder of a beloved childhood hobby and an opportunity to discover something new.

A Buffalo native, Joseph J. Eberle Sr. recalls growing up an outdoor kid, playing outside every chance he could get. He was about 11 years old when he began building and launching model rockets as a hobby.

“We’d make homemade ones, we’d make them out of kits,” he said. “And then years went by and I never really did anything about it until the grandkids came along.

Mr. Eberle, now 67, left the Buffalo area when he was 18 and said he has been a Watertown and Jefferson County guy since 1977. He and his wife Kathy raised their four children in the county and now live in the town of Watertown. Their first grandchild, Fiona, was born in 2006, and they now have seven grandchildren who call Mr. Eberle all variations of “Pop.”

On Sunday nights, the Eberle clan gets together at Mr. Eberle’s house for family night and will occasionally shoot off some rockets on the property along Route 11. This is where Mr. Eberle says everything began for Pop’s Rockets, stemming from the joy of sharing the hobby with his grandkids.

Last Christmas, he made 14 rockets and told the kids they were going to spend the day shooting them off together. And shoot them off they did, with all the kids, spouses and grandkids spending an afternoon watching the launches.

“Kids and adults, they just have a blast,” Mr. Eberle said. “It’s really fun because they go really high, it’s exciting.”

For Mr. Eberle’s birthday this past year, his daughter Kelly M. Clark, owner of Market on Main, gave him a poster featuring a stylized rocket ship that says “Pop’s Rockets, est. 2006.” She shared with him a vision that had been discussed by friends and family for Mr. Eberle to make his rockets to sell at Market on Main under the name of Pop’s Rockets. After traveling to Florida for about a month, he got to work when he came back. So far, with the market not having been open for a full month yet, Pop’s Rockets has already sold over 20 rockets. Proceeds from the rockets, which cost a little over $20, go back into the purchase of materials for more rockets.

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