What are your memories of the first moon walk? -(40th anniversary next Monday)

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What are your memories of the first moon walk? -(40th anniversary next Monday)

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1cataylor
jul. 16, 2009, 7:27pm

I remember the summer of '69 well because we moved and I was living a half block from my best friend in Norfolk, Virginia. Seems the back ground noise all summer was Walter Cronkite, the scratchy, beepy noises from Apollo 11, and Neil Armstrong's words "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

great websites: http://moonlanding.historybeat.com/ and http://wechoosethemoon.org/

2staffordcastle
jul. 16, 2009, 7:34pm

Thanks for those links, cataylor!

I remember being glued to the telly on the occasion - my imagination was going on overdrive!

3cataylor
jul. 16, 2009, 7:38pm

I got teary tonight watching footage on the news of Apollo 11's lift off. Wow! We really did something huge!! Still get teary when I watch a shuttle launch.

And Godspeed Endeavour! May you return to us safely.

4stevetempo
jul. 16, 2009, 8:31pm

I remember sitting on the floor in our living room watching Neil take that first step on a black and white TV. I wondered how long it would be before we went further to Mars. At that time my Dad worked for Grumman Aerospace (Long Island, NY.) Grumman developed the Lunar Module (the craft that actually landed on the moon.) I still have some newspapers and souvenirs from that day in 1969. It was an incredible time and very inspirational to me.

5PhaedraB
jul. 16, 2009, 8:45pm

The week of the moon launch my life was in total chaos. I knew it was happening, but I have little memory of seeing any of it live.

However, I found out later that my uncle designed the radiation detection equipment on the lunar lander. The family story goes that he wrote his name on a teeny tiny piece of paper and stuffed it into the lander while he was installing the equipment.

6detailmuse
jul. 16, 2009, 9:17pm

I was at the home of friends of my parents -- the adults were inside playing bridge and my brother and I were swimming in their in-ground pool, how fabulous was that, we thought!! I remember being called out of the pool to come inside, where we watched events on TV, standing in our swimsuits.

My memory of that night brings to mind Tony Earley's collection of personal essays, Somehow Form a Family, and a passage that I love from his Introduction:

On the night of July 20, 1969, my little sister and I followed our father into the backyard, where we studied the moon through a surveyor's transit owned by a neighbor. Peering through the eyepiece, I felt as if I could almost see Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface (...) It's one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. When I wrote about that night almost thirty years later, I described the full moon in detail (...) When a fact checker at Harper's magazine informed me that the moon on the night of July 20, 1969, had not been full but had been a waxing crescent, I refused at first to believe her. When I looked it up for myself and discovered that she was right, I was faced on one hand with a memory so strong I was sure it had to be true, and on the other hand with an objective truth significantly different than what I remembered.

He goes on to discuss fiction and nonfiction in the universe of creative writing ... and subtitles his book, "Stories That Are Mostly True."

7tymfos
Editat: jul. 16, 2009, 9:55pm

I remember we were in the midst of a heat wave that July. Our only air conditioning unit was in the living room window, and when the weather got really hot, we curtained off the doorways to the rest of the house and "camped out" in the living room -- with Mom & Dad's big mattress on the floor in front of the TV. That's where we were when we watched the events broadcast live from the moon. I thought it was awesome!

8WholeHouseLibrary
jul. 16, 2009, 10:29pm

Picture, if you can, 10 people sitting around, and watching for hours, a 12" television screen. That was my family - 2 parents, 4 brothers, 3 sisters, and me. (We're still pretty close.) The fact that it was televised real-time (maybe there was the standard 7-second delay...), considering all of the things that could possibly go wrong, was absolutely amazing to me. I was 17 at the time, and I recall not being able to get to sleep that night, and Walter Cronkite's reaction.

I also recall feeling sad for the Russians, whose unmanned probe crash into the Moon. I forget now about how many days there were between the 2 events. To me, it truly was "a giant leap for all Mankind", regardless of political ideology.

9krazy4katz
jul. 16, 2009, 10:46pm

My parents and I watched TV the entire time. It was just so exciting!

My father did some contract work for the space program, although not directly connected with that flight. I know I took a photograph of the television screen when Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon. I remember all you could see clearly in the photo was the square edge of his backpack. I have plans to look for that photograph this weekend.

k4k

10usnmm2
jul. 16, 2009, 11:09pm

I was in my fourth week of summer camp (boot camp) for the U.S. Navy. they let us say up and watch in on a (very small) T.V. that the C.C. (Company Commander) had brought in.
The best part was they let us sleep late the next day (till 7a.m. rather than 6 a.m.). And if you don't think that is a big deal you never were in boot camp.

11theexiledlibrarian
jul. 16, 2009, 11:24pm

I have no memory of the event, even though I was 10 at the time. My dad was in the army, and we were stationed in Japan. I think we had a small b/w tv, but there was no English language tv. I'm sure the Japanese televised it, but I don't remember seeing it. I know almost nothing about American tv between 1968-70, and then again in 73-74 when we went back.

12Rowntree
jul. 17, 2009, 6:34pm

We watched whatever was televised for hours but for some reason what stayed in my head even more than the 'first step' were the somewhat earlier words: "Houston, this is Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed."

Still gives me goose bumps, just typing it.

13fugitive
jul. 17, 2009, 8:24pm

Driving back from somewhere with my mother's second husband ... going over some pass over the Cascades ... listening to things on the radio ... thinking "We'll never get to see this happen live ..." and making it "home" in time. Turning on the TV. Seeing the touchdown live. Relief. Joy. Stamped indelibly.

Wonder. (I was 12 years old).

14stevetempo
jul. 17, 2009, 10:03pm

>10 usnmm2: I know quite well how wonderful it is to have even an extra minute of free time in that training situation...USAF/Lackand AFB 1976

15arubabookwoman
jul. 18, 2009, 1:30am

I was in college, and was spending the summer with my parents who were then living in Singapore. I'm pretty sure it wasn't televised there, and I know I didn't see it. The events of the late summer of 1969--the moon walk, Chappaquidick, and Hurricane Camille--are all closely associated in my memories.

16Booksloth
jul. 18, 2009, 7:05am

I was 13 and, although the event must have been even bigger for those of you in the States, it was pretty darn big here too. For us, it all happened in the middle of the night/early hours of the morning but my father came and woke my sister and me and we went into the sitting room to watch those first steps on TV. My main memory of the events is my sister announcing that she had worked out why it took less time for the astronauts to return home than for them to get to the moon - because it's downhill. (She never really improved much from then on.)

17mckait
jul. 18, 2009, 7:31am

I had spend the day in Pittsburgh with a friend. We hung at Point Park and I believe there had been music ( a symphony?) that evening. We got off the bus on the main street of our town, and there was a tv in the window of the store. We stood there and watched with no sound as he took that first step.

My house was just around the corner .... a minute away, so we then went there to sit and watch with my mom and sister..

18karenmarie
jul. 18, 2009, 7:42am

I don't remember it at all. It had to have been a big deal at our house, because my father was chief engineer for Precision Sheet Metal in Los Angeles. They made parts of the engine(s?) itself.

I seem to recall at the time I was pretty militantly against the space program, if you can believe it - wanted to spend all that money at home. I know, I know. Immature. I didn't realize the scientific and economic benefits that were gained from that huge national effort. It was also mixed up with my feelings for my dad at the time.

19AlanPoulter
jul. 18, 2009, 8:34am


We were on holiday in my grandmother's caravan at West Runton, in North Norfolk. We had an awful tiny b&w portable TV. I remember the momentous words coming out against a picture that was just a dark mush.

20Booksloth
jul. 18, 2009, 10:31am

#18 I was against it as a waste of money too. Still not completely sure where I stand on that one!

21mckait
Editat: jul. 18, 2009, 12:19pm

# 20

ditto.. i see no use for it..

22tymfos
jul. 18, 2009, 8:55pm

I think few people realize how many things we take for granted that are by-products of the space program. And the knowledge of the universe we've gained . . . some of those photos from the Hubble Telescope just take my breath away.

But then, I'm an old Trekker. (Somebody on this board had another name for Star Trek fans that I loved -- what was it?) I'm still hoping we'll discover Warp Drive and find a whole bunch of interesting new friends out there . . . ;-)

23cataylor
jul. 18, 2009, 9:44pm

>22 tymfos: Me too tymfos - and I would go up in a heart beat if I ever got the chance!!!

24tloeffler
jul. 19, 2009, 12:26am

I feel unpatriotic. I must have been almost 13, but I have no memory of watching it, although we must have. The big event (and my only memory of it) in our family was that one of my Dad's cousins watched it while she was in labor, and named her daughter "Dawn."

And maybe because we've seen it replayed so many times, I really DO remember it, but it's mixed up somewhere in the replays.

25Booksloth
jul. 19, 2009, 7:46am

#22 I completely agree with you there - but what most people who use that argument fail to realise is that everything has by-products. If the money had been spent on any kind of scientific or medical research that would also have had by-products or side effects that we would now take for granted. I'm not trying to start up an argument against space exploration here - as I said, I don't really know how I feel these days about the whole thing and the point is that what's done is done and we can't go back now anyway, but I do wonder what difference that money might have made in other spheres. Neverthless, it was a memorable moment for most of us, which is the whole point of the thread.

26mckait
jul. 19, 2009, 8:12am

I am old enough to still use Trekkie

And I can understand that we have found some useful things by the research. It is the millions ( billions?) spent on the actual travel I question.
Hungry Children v/s fly to the moon... ?

I dunno...

And as for looking for ways to populate another planet after we ruin this one.. I don't think we deserve another one. just imo, tho

27Jim53
jul. 19, 2009, 7:27pm

My wife and I had an interesting chat about this yesterday. We were both in high school at the time and hadn't yet met. Both of us remember, more clearly than watching the landing, looking up at the moon in the sky that night and thinking, "There are people there!"

28MerryMary
jul. 20, 2009, 1:01pm

I prefer "Trekkist." Seems more mature!!

29nobooksnolife
jul. 20, 2009, 11:20pm

It was the summer between 8th and 9th grade for me, a blur of 100-degree heat (living in Las Vegas), raging hormones, and a 14-year-old's insecurities. The moon landing did nothing for me, but was eclipsed (pardon the pun) by the rebroadcast of Elvis's 1968 comeback show which I had missed seeing the year before. I remember my mom going nuts about the moon landing, telling me to watch...we took a picture of it on the TV which of course reflected the flash, so we have a memorial photo of a flash reflection. I don't remember my dad having much to say about it.

Of course since then I've seen moon landing reruns, and like #24 they are kind of blurred so I don't know what my true memory is. (But I would never forget Elvis and his black leather!)

30Papiervisje
jul. 21, 2009, 2:18pm

I was 11 and in a children´s hospital, recovering from a very bad kidney poisoning. I still remember the nurses waking up the older kids to watch. It was deep in the night and we watched the whole thing on a very small black & white television.
It was magic and I have never experienced anything like it.

31varielle
jul. 21, 2009, 3:40pm

I remember that we were made to go to bed because it was getting to be so late when they finally walked, so we missed the actual event.

32mckait
jul. 21, 2009, 3:49pm

31 now that is a shame.

33ddelmoni
Editat: jul. 23, 2009, 12:49pm

With all my high school girl friends (between 10th and 11th grade) at our friend Isabelle's house for a sleep over. It was her 16th birthday and we all watched together...with our hair in curlers! YIKES...

I remember watching Alan Shepard and John Glenn from a folding chair in our grade school auditorium -- the set was so big but the sceen B&W and soooo small we really didn't "see" anything.

So in 2000, when my husband and I went to Kennedy space center for a shuttle launch, we were both in awe that we experienced an actual space launch.

34cataylor
jul. 23, 2009, 3:41pm

>33 ddelmoni: LOVE your sleep over story!! That's great.

I can imagine an actual launch is something no one would ever forget.

35ddelmoni
jul. 23, 2009, 4:19pm

cataylor

>I remember that sleep over vividly AND their B&W TV!

>If you ever get the chance go! It was a night launch and totally awesome. That was our "special" memory for the turn of the millenium.

36OsideNative
ag. 10, 2009, 5:29pm

It was the summer between 11th and 12th grades and my parents had dragged me along on a 4-week vacation with them. (We're not going to let you stay home alone - you're a KID - you just want to have your friends over and have parties in the house every night.) At the time of the moon landing we were visiting relatives in Denver and Littleton, and were staying in a motel between those two cities in Englewood, CO. We watched it on the tv in the motel and afterwards I remember going outside into the parking lot and just staring up at the moon in awe of the whole thing.

37lbradf
des. 23, 2009, 3:37am

I'm behind times on this, but just came across this thread. We were visiting my brother and his wife in Seattle. Everything stopped so we could watch this great moment. I remember all of us sitting around the TV. I remember my dad taking a picture of the TV screen with Neil Armstrong at the base of the lunar module.

38BethyB
des. 29, 2009, 2:26pm

We were at my grandmother's - we all got to stay up late, but I'm the only one of the kids who actually got to see it, as my younger sisters fell asleep. I was thrilled - and still am.