Today, our nation celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the first moon landing. If you were alive way back then, chances are this was one of those "You'll Never Forget Where You Were" moments.
However, I have forgotten quite a bit about the first moon landing, and I also think that I've probably swirled a whole lot of the Apollo trips together. Yesterday morning, my mom asked me if I remembered where I was and what I was doing at the time of the landing. I thought I did, but I got it wrong, or at least confused. Hopefully, this has more to do with the fact that I was three and a half at the first landing, and not any indication of any advancing senility!
I assumed I was watching it all on television, at night. But, according to my mom's report, I was actually at a play at the "Spanish Pavilion." They interrupted the play to announce the moon landing. At three and a half, I apparently cheered loudly. This would place the importance of the moon landing for me pretty close to the time one of the dwarfs fell off the bench he was sleeping on into the fireplace during a Muny performance of "Snow White." I loved that.
This event began my fascination with space, space travel, and related topics that continues to this day. An enumeration of key examples of my fascination:
- An early visit to Washington D.C. I was greatly disappointed that the Air and Space museum was essentially closed while they built the new exhibit space. All you could really see were a few key artifacts in a small building.
- Starting building and flying model rockets in the 6th or 7th grade and continued through college.
- Finally got to the new Air and Space museum after it reopened. I believe I read every single word that was written on any sign or exhibit in the entire museum. There was no "browsing" for me. I had to go back for a second day to finish, while my family continued on with something a little more interesting for them!
- Purchased a Newtonian telescope with a 10" mirror to gaze into space from our backyard. The major trigger for this was an incredibly close approach of Mars a couple of years back. I did end up getting an incredible view, on an unusually calm and clear night.
So if some of my recollections were a bit hazy, what exactly DO I remember from those moon landings?
- Looking through the red plastic that used to be wrapped around banana stems, to make our B&W TV image into a color image.
- The explanations (probably by Walter Cronkite) of exactly how the rockets worked, and how the the lunar lander would emerge, land, and then re-launch.
- Our B&W TV going on the fritz, so we'd rush across the street to watch on our neighbors set.
- Looking up at the moon in the night sky, straining to see the astronauts. I was probably, at some point, convinced that I found them.
In the great scheme of things, odd stuff to remember, but stand-out memories for a three year old that have lasted all of these years. Of course, I "remember" all the video and pictures of the astronauts bouncing across the moon. I'm just not so certain whether I remember it that well from the actual events, or from the repetition over the years!
We now live in a world where travel to space is probably not so magical for most kids and doesn't even figure prominently in the news. However, I'm still excited about every manned launch and every probe that is launched, but I'm really looking forward to the United States returning to the moon and heading out to Mars!
There is so much to see and explore out there! If you'd like to restore your own wonder, I'd recommend making "The Astronomy Picture of the Day" your homepage. One fantastic photo every day, along with great information and links! As this post is published, today's picture is naturally the first moon landing.
What are your moon landing memories?